Preparing for the Abominable Snowman (Making Your Home Winter Ready)

Limitless Contributor

Deck the halls with boughs of non-flammable holly, fa la la la la. Not quite the correct lyrics, but if the writer of that song worked for an insurance company they would have added that detail. Based on data from the National Fire Protection Association and the U.S. Fire Administration, an estimated "240 home fires involving Christmas trees and another 150 home fires involving holiday lights and other decorative lighting occur each year." Together, these fires result in "21 deaths and $25.2 million in direct property damage." Yikes, nothing like a yuletide fire gone wrong to ruin your holidays. Here are some home safety tips, from the USAA monthly home maintenance guide, for keeping your home safe and winter ready.


  • Make sure your fire extinguishers are charged and within reach of your kitchen and garage.

  • Inspect electrical cords to see if they're frayed, and be sure outlets and power strips are not overloaded. (This is especially true for Christmas lights!)

  • Turn off tree and outdoor holiday lights, as well as space heaters, when you're away or asleep.

  • Have gas furnaces and heat pumps serviced every two years and oil-fired systems checked annually.

  • Test smoke alarms regularly to ensure they're working properly and make sure to change the batteries at least once a year.

  • Ventilate your attic and insulate the attic floor to stop warm air in the house from melting the snow and ice on the roof.

  • Wrap exposed pipes with insulation sleeves to prevent them from freezing and bursting.

  • Caulk cracks and holes near those pipes in outer walls and the foundation.

  • Leave kitchen and bathroom cabinet doors open during cold spells to allow warm air to circulate around pipes.

  • Trickle water through faucets connected to pipes that run through unheated or unprotected spaces.

  • If your house will be unoccupied for an extended period of time, shut off and drain your water system.

Check out these additional resources for even more tips to keep the abominable snowman away!

Winter Storm Question & Answers from USAA
Christmas Tree Fire Hazards (U.S. Fire Administration)
USAA's household checklist provides more tips to help stop damage from freezing weather.
Extreme Temperatures: Winterize Your Home Before a Storm (Federal Alliance for Safe Homes)