BOISE – It’s the heart of winter, and AAA is reminding Idaho families to prepare their homes for the cold and icy days ahead.

“Avoiding an expensive home repair can free up some money for a dream vacation later, as well as help keep insurance premiums from rising as a result of a claim,” says AAA Idaho spokesman Matthew Conde.  “Fortunately, homeowners can take simple actions to prevent many small problems from becoming bigger ones.”

AAA’s home winterization tips

  • Clear gutters and downspouts of debris to allow snow and ice to flow freely.
  • To prevent pipes from freezing and bursting, insulate exposed pipes and seal cracks in outside walls. Keep cabinet doors on exterior walls open and keep a slow trickle of water flowing through unprotected pipes during cold snaps.
  • Have your chimney professionally inspected, cleaned, and repaired before winter use. Never leave a fire or burning candles unattended.
  • Take advantage of the lack of foliage to trim trees and remove dead branches.
  • Caulk openings and install weather stripping around doors and windows to prevent cold air and moisture from entering.
  • Follow all safety guidelines when using space heaters.
  • Consider having heavy loads of snow and ice removed from your roof as needed.
  • Have flashlights and extra batteries, a portable radio, extra medicine, baby items, pet supplies, a first-aid kit, heating fuel, food and water, and a fire extinguisher on hand. Ensure that all smoke and carbon monoxide detectors are in good working order.

“As expensive as everything seems to be these days, including the items that you’d need for a home repair, taking preventative measures is the name of the game,” Conde said.  “We want everyone to have a safe and happy winter.”