Mother and two daughters looking out snowy big glass window with Christmas decorations in foreground

Security Systems

How to Keep Your Family & Home Safe This Winter

Published 12/23/2022 by General Security


With winter bringing cooler temperatures, harsher weather conditions, seasonal illnesses, and other changes, it’s important your family, home, and property remain safe and sound. While adding traditional protection measures such as alarm systems with 24/7 Central Station Monitoring and security cameras is an important safeguard, additional steps should also be taken. 

Failing to inspect and service roofs, gas fireplaces, furnaces and oil burners, pipes, HVAC units, and other critical home components can lead to potential accidents, and possibly save lives.

According to the National Safety Council (NSC), a nonprofit dedicated to helping eliminate preventable deaths in workplaces, homes, and communities, there were 974 weather-related fatalities across the United States in 2021—a 35 percent increase since 2017. There were 1,667 reported last year.

During the winter and holiday season, it’s important to ensure safeguards and security measures throughout your home and property.

Consider also pairing protective measures with accompanying smart technologies through the app, such as enhancing fire and life safety, energy and wellness, remote monitoring, and more. 

Below we’ll outline our top tips to protect your family, home, and property this winter.


1. Check & Inspect Gas Fireplaces, Space Heaters & Other Appliances

It’s vitally important to ensure these and other gas-fueled appliances, such as stoves and grills, are properly maintained to safeguard against carbon monoxide poisoning and fires. This also is applicable when running interior space heaters powered by oil, gas, propane, or electric.

As of January 2023, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC) reported more than 100,000 annual hospital emergency room visits due to accidental carbon monoxide poisoning. Yearly fatalities from this detectable danger have also increased, from 393 in 2015 to 430.

Because this lethal gas poses such tremendous health risks—especially during cooler winter months—it’s important to also regularly inspect chimneys, gas furnaces, HVAC units, and smoke and carbon monoxide detectors. 


Directly connect carbon monoxide and smoke detectors to your alarm system’s 24/7 Central Station Monitoring service for real-time alerts and responses.


2. Ensure Working Smoke Alarms & Carbon Monoxide Detectors

Because smoke and carbon monoxide are so dangerous, and even fatal, it is imperative fire and life safety devices are regularly checked and inspected. To ensure proper functionality, listen for any rapid or intermittent beeping or chirping sounds—both could indicate low battery levels or other malfunctions. 

These can also warn about carbon monoxide presence in the home. If so, emergency personnel and first responders must be notified immediately, and all occupants should leave the premises.


Regularly inspect and check carbon monoxide and smoke detectors, and replace batteries during fall and spring daylight savings time. 

With winter bringing cooler temperatures, harsher weather conditions, and other seasonal changes, it’s important your family, home, and property remain safe and sound.


3. Maintain & Clean Roofs, Chimneys & Gutters

While pretty to view with their many colorful hues, falling leaves can also cause problems when collecting on roofs and in gutters. Late fall is usually the best time to clear these areas of leaves and other debris. If ignored, clogs can result in excess moisture and potential flooding.

This is also an appropriate time to check the home’s roof and chimney for issues such as loose shingles, bricks, bird and insect nests, and other potential problems. 


Check and clean gutters and chimneys yearly as a best practice.


4. Minimize Window & Door Drafts

According to the U.S. Department of Energy, amending drafty areas caused by air leaks from windows and doors can provide energy savings of between 10 and 20 percent. These air pockets could also be present near electrical outlets, pipes, floorboards, and other fixtures. To minimize drafts, consider added insulation and weatherstripping specifically around larger areas where heat can easily escape. 

As aforementioned, it’s also important to have HVAC systems regularly serviced and inspected for optimal performance.


Add smart locks and contact sensors to windows and doors for real-time separation or breach alerts.


5. Watch for Leaks & Moisture to Prevent Flood Damage

While leaks and moisture are a year-round concern, taking extra precautions prior to the winter can prevent costly frozen pipe bursts. Turn off all outdoor water sources, such as hoses and garden spigots, and have sprinkler systems blown out to prevent additional damage. You can do this yourself, or have your sprinkler system company conduct this once temperatures consistently drop below freezing.

It’s also recommended to keep interior temperatures at a reasonable level, whether you’re home or away. Shutting heat down or setting thermostats too low can also lead to frozen pipes. If you travel often, or frequently spend time at another location, consider adding smart thermostats to control and schedule heating and cooling according to usage for added energy efficiency and cost savings.

For flooding concerns, the Smart Water Valve + Meter can quickly identify leaks and moisture. This Z-wave water shutoff valve will also automatically provide data and insights on water usage, to maximize efficiencies.


Add flood and temperature sensors to safeguard your home from possible moisture and water damage. Even when you’re not home, smart technologies will send a real-time warning to your mobile phone, should an issue arise.


6. Adjust & Clean HVAC Systems for Safety & Efficiency

Whether your home is heated through gas, oil, or other energy sources, it’s important to maintain furnaces, boilers, and HVAC systems. This includes regular inspections, service, and cleaning by a licensed professional. 

Furnace and air conditioning return and supply vents should also be checked regularly for optimal functionality. If using a central heating and air conditioning system, it’s important to periodically replace filters to help ensure ideal air quality and energy efficiency.


Set a reminder in late fall to schedule HVAC system maintenance and inspection visits.


7. Secure Patio Furniture & Other Outdoor Equipment

Ensure outdoor furniture, such as tables, chairs, and umbrellas are securely tied down and wrapped, or safely stored. It's important to disconnect propane grills and other gas-driven equipment to protect against fires, leaks, and other hazards. 


Consider adding smart stove and grill guards with real-time monitoring and automatic shutoff.


8. Ensure Pools Are Winterized & Covered

While many homeowners neglect this step until late spring, you can avoid problematic issues by conducting proper pool maintenance before the cooler months and throughout the winter. Ensure pools are securely covered to avoid buildup from algae and other debris.


Adding smart technology contact sensors to outdoor gates, pool decks, and other areas prone to safety hazards will provide real-time alerts should any of these become breached or disturbed.


9. Utilize Security Cameras for Indoor/Outdoor Monitoring

Aside from deterring thieves, vandals, and other unwanted guests, doorbell cameras and indoor/outdoor security cameras monitor activities within and around the home, whether you’re there or not.

Besides surveilling deliveries, guests, and other visitors, remote monitoring keeps homeowners abreast of any dangerous, weather-related concerns as well—capturing in real time any damage caused by ice, snow, powerful winds, and other winter hazards.


Download the app to your mobile device for easy check-ins, communication and remote viewing of your home and property when you cannot be there.


10. Safely Maintain Vehicles 

Winter safety precautions also include conducting vehicle maintenance, such as oil changes, and checking tire pressures, windshield wipers, and other important functions. Doing so—and driving safely—can be the difference between arriving at your destination safe and sound, or suffering accidents and injuries, or worse. 

These tips are valuable year-round, but hold extra significance during winter months. According to the U.S. Department of Transportation Federal Highway Administration, 24 percent of weather-driven vehicle accidents are caused by snow, or slushy and icy conditions. More than 1,300 drivers have also died as a result of these hazards.  

Checking weather reports within your community and route should be completed prior to departure. This can help avoid risks associated with impending ice or snowstorms. Remember, nothing is worth risking your family’s safety! 

To help avert issues associated with inclement weather or poor vehicle maintenance, always keep an emergency kit in your car or truck with essentials such as shovels, ice scrapers, jumper cables, roadway reflectors, cell phone chargers, and first aid items.


Consider adding an Connected Car tracking device. This provides real-time information on the vehicle’s exact location should first responders require your position. It also stores important maintenance records and service reminder updates.


11. Keep Germs & Illnesses at Bay

With illnesses such as the common cold, flu, and coronavirus even more active during cooler, drier months, it’s imperative to maintain healthy habits and hygiene practices. 

According to CDC “2022-2023 U.S. Flu Season: Preliminary In-Season Burden Estimates,” there were between an estimated 13 million and 27 million reported flu cases from Oct. 1, 2022 through Dec. 3, 2022.

Frequent hand washing and sanitizing should be a daily routine. Staying home when you’re not feeling well can also help stave off infectious community spread. Keeping your home germ-free is also recommended, with frequent spot-cleaning of high-traffic surfaces such as doorknobs, counters, sinks, and faucets.

Adding a dehumidifier and air purification system can also help with interior moisture and air quality. Dry, stagnant air is often a breeding ground for germs that can lead to potential illnesses. 


Practice healthy hygiene, and stay home if you’re not feeling well.

With illnesses such as the common cold, flu, and coronavirus even more active during cooler, drier months, it’s imperative to maintain healthy habits and hygiene practices.


12. Check on Elderly Loved Ones & Those With Disabilities

With shorter, cooler days, winter months can be lonely for even the most socially outgoing people. However, for the elderly and disabled population living alone, this can be especially dangerous. Ensuring these folks have essential items in case of emergencies is important. Set a reminder to check on an elderly or disabled family member or neighbor, especially if they have limited mobility. If you cannot physically be there, consider adding Wellness and Wellcam

Working concurrently, Wellness is a Personal Emergency Response System (PERS) set to monitor important schedules pertaining to medication, diet, sleep, and more. 

Wellcam’s 1080p resolution camera monitors living spaces for daily activities through two-way audio and video. An in-app report also provides insights regarding any changes or disruptions.


13. Protect From Frostbite & Hypothermia

Spending time outdoors during winter months is still a must for those who enjoy activities such as ice skating, skiing, or snowboarding. While this can be fun, it can quickly become problematic without proper outerwear, footwear, and other protective gear. 

To ward off potential frostbite and hypothermia, ensure everyone wears a lined winter coat for warmth. Hats, gloves, scarves, and boots are also important for hands and feet, which are most likely to experience frostbite. Should you fall victim, immediately seek shelter, and monitor for loss of feeling in affected areas, as well as a pale appearance.

Hypothermia is characterized by an extreme drop in body temperature. Watch for shivering, memory loss, slurred speech, and extreme fatigue. If you or anyone you’re traveling with is experiencing these symptoms, seek immediate medical attention.


If venturing outside in cooler temperatures, wear protective outerwear and footwear.


14. Remove Snow & Ice With Care

Whether operating a snowblower or shoveling, both can be dangerous and lead to fatigue and cardiovascular risks, such as heart attacks.

To avoid overexertion, the American Heart Association recommends taking frequent breaks, avoiding shoveling immediately after eating, and watching for signs of frostbite and hypothermia. If you’ve recently had a medical condition, it’s always best to seek the advice of your doctor prior to resuming any physical activities. 

Precautions when operating snowblowers include keeping your hands a safe distance away from blades and rotors, turning off the ignition if it becomes stuck or jammed, and checking for gas leaks and other hazards.  


Look for warning signs of frostbite, hypothermia, and other health-related concerns when shoveling or operating snowblowers.   


15. Create a Winter Safety Checklist & Emergency Kit

Discuss with your family what should be included in your home safety plan and winter emergency kit. This will provide critical assistance during dangerous situations. 

The Red Cross suggests homeowners include emergency kit staples such as water, non-perishable food items, flashlights, batteries, and other essentials.


Download this free Home Safety Checklist from General Security to get started!


Keeping Your Family Safe & Secure This Winter

When developing your winter home safety plan, it’s best to work with a reputable services provider such as General Security for help and guidance.

General Security provides home safety and security measures for homeowners along the U.S. East Coast. Request a free quote to learn more. 

Request a Quote with General Security

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