18 Winter Home Safety Tips

Posted January 23rd, 2024 by SimpliSafe

Winter brings the festive joy of Christmas and New Year, but it can also bring hazards with it too. Due to the plummeting temperatures and icy conditions, winter can increase the risk of falls, house fires, illnesses and frozen or burst pipes. Plus, with the longer nights, burglaries increase over the winter months.

To stay safe this winter, it’s important to be aware of common household hazards and adapt your behaviour to fit the season. Here are 18 of the best winter home safety tips to help you strengthen your home security and safety this year.

Keeping your home warm

Our first few tips revolve around keeping your home warm when temperatures plummet outside. While you may be tempted to switch off the heating to save some extra cash, keeping warm is essential for maintaining good health, especially for vulnerable groups like the elderly and babies. Here’s how you can keep your home warm safely this winter:

1. Look after vulnerable people

As mentioned above, vulnerable people can face more serious consequences if they don’t stay warm enough. Both elderly people and infants under one-year-old lose body heat more easily than other people, which means they shouldn’t be in cold rooms or homes. 

If you have a baby, make sure their room is maintained at a warm and comfortable temperature. You can also keep them warm by dressing them in thicker clothing, but avoid using soft bedding for very young infants as this can increase the risk of overheating or smothering.

If you have elderly relatives and neighbours, it’s a good idea to check in with them when the weather gets really cold, especially if they have health issues. Make sure they have a warm home and offer assistance if needed.

2. Prevent frozen pipes

When temperatures drop below freezing, the risk of your pipes freezing or even bursting increases. This can be an annoying and costly problem to fix, so it’s best to prevent frozen pipes in the first place.

The most obvious tip is to try and conserve heat in your home, but there are also additional things you can do such as insulating your pipes with foam pipe sleeves, getting your boiler serviced annually, and switching off your water supply when you’re away. Plus, we would recommend installing a temperature sensor, which will alert you when your home drops below 5°C. This will remind you to warm up your home before your pipes have a chance to freeze.

3. Conserve heat

You should always conserve heat where you can to protect your health when it gets very cold. Heating up your entire home can be expensive, but luckily there are ways you can make the most of your heating or find alternative ways to stay warm. 

Dressing up warm and using blankets is a simple way to prevent you from losing too much body heat. To heat up an entire room without using the heating all the time, you should close the curtains at night and avoid opening windows and doors unnecessarily. In more extreme temperatures, it may be beneficial to close off unneeded rooms and use blankets or towels to block the cracks under doors. It’s easier to heat a couple of rooms than the whole house.

Fire safety in the home

With the temperatures dropping so low, many people turn to their central heating, fireplaces, portable heaters and candles to stay warm and create a cosy ambience. However, these heating methods can greatly increase the risk of fires in your home.

To prevent house fires, you need to practise fire safety at home. Here are some of the most important fire safety tips to keep in mind:

4. Have a working smoke detector

All homes must have a working smoke detector to warn people in the event of a fire. Your smoke detector will alert you to smoke before it can escalate into a large fire, which can mean the difference between escaping safely and being in grave danger.

In addition to ensuring that your smoke detector is properly installed, you also need to perform regular maintenance and testing to check that it’s working as it should. Smoke detector maintenance should be carried out once a month by you holding the test button. If it beeps, your alarm is working correctly. If it doesn’t, you may need to change the batteries.

Coupling your smoke detector with a professional monitoring system will mean that the emergency services are automatically contacted for you. Here at SimpliSafe, our 24/7 monitoring centre will immediately dispatch emergency services to your home upon visual verification of a fire through your security system, even if you’re not currently at home. This takes the burden of alerting the authorities off your shoulders, allowing you to focus on keeping yourself and your family safe.

5. Don’t leave open flames unattended

What could be more festive than snuggling up in front of a roaring fire or lighting a few Christmas candles to banish the cold and dark? We all love to get cosy in the wintertime but make sure you enjoy these simple pleasures safely.

Even if you’re just popping out for five minutes, it’s never a good idea to leave open flames unattended. It only takes a few moments for an ember to land on flammable material and set it alight. To stay safe, only light fires or candles when you’re in the room, and always extinguish them when leaving or going to bed.

6. Keep children and pets away from fireplaces and space heaters

You also need to be present to ensure that any children or pets don’t get too close to open flames. Keep them at least three feet away from fires at all times, and make sure they’re constantly supervised to prevent accidents. You can install a fire screen to prevent embers from flying out across the room and causing a health and safety hazard.

The same rules apply to space heaters. These portable heaters can get very hot, so it’s important that children and pets are kept away from them and supervised while they’re in use.

7. Keep flammable materials away from space heaters

In addition to keeping flammable materials away from open flames, don’t forget to keep them away from space heaters too. As these appliances can get very hot, they could start a fire if you keep them too close to your furniture, blankets or curtains. You should also never cover your space heater due to the risk of house fires.

8. Don’t use damaged appliances

Appliances like space heaters are usually only used in wintertime, so you may have stored them out of sight in your garage or attic since then. As a result, you may not have noticed their condition deteriorating over time. So, before plugging them in again this winter, check that your appliances have no obvious faults such as frayed wires. Don’t use any items that are clearly damaged or produce sparks.

9. Don’t overload electrical sockets

You’re probably using more appliances and devices than usual this winter, including space heaters, electric blankets and Christmas lights. If you can’t find plug sockets for all of these devices, never resort to overloading the sockets. It’s better to buy an extension lead and use the appropriate amount of plug sockets rather than overloading your existing sockets, as this could cause a fire.

10. Switch off appliances and devices before bed

Our final fire safety tip is to always switch off unused appliances and devices before bed, only leaving the appliances that need to stay on all the time (such as your fridge). It’s a good idea to have a bedtime routine that includes checking everything is switched off and all doors and windows are locked, as this can help you remember to keep your home safe and secure each night.

Winter home security

Speaking of security, did you know that your home is more vulnerable to burglars during the winter months? With the combination of longer nights and time spent away from home due to Christmas and New Year’s celebrations, criminals have the perfect opportunity to break in and steal your valuables.

So what can you do? Our next tips will focus on winter home security to keep you, your family and your belongings safe.

11. Lock doors and windows

We’ve already briefly touched on this point, but it’s one of the most important things you can do for your home security. Many criminals can be opportunistic, which means they may target houses that seem easier to steal from in the moment. So, if someone tries your door and notices that it’s unlocked, they could try and sneak in even if you’re still upstairs in bed. These sneak-in burglaries are actually very common, so you need to lock your doors and windows even when you’re at home.

During winter, the longer nights can mean that more criminals may be operating under cover of darkness. Lock your doors and windows as soon as it gets dark and make a habit of checking them before you go to bed.

12. Invest in home security systems

To protect your home even more, you should invest in a wireless home security system. These security systems come with indoor cameras and outdoor cameras, allowing you to keep an eye on valuables in your home and intruders outside at the same time. 

Our SimpliSafe cameras contain high-tech motion detection software, so they can alert you to intruders even when it’s completely dark outside. Coupled with motion sensors and wireless sirens, these security devices can both capture essential footage of crimes and help deter opportunistic criminals, who may think twice about breaking in if they see your high-tech security system or trigger a loud alarm. 

13. Use lighting

Although our security systems can detect intruders using heat sensors, it’s still important to use outdoor lighting as a deterrent. Opportunistic criminals can be more likely to approach your home if they’re concealed by darkness, and your security system may not be able to act as a deterrent if no one can see it at night.

If you’re not keen on keeping your outdoor lights on all the time, you can invest in smart lighting that’s controlled by an app or motion sensor lighting that turns on when movement is detected. These kinds of porch lighting are very useful when you’re away from home, as they can convince people that you’re still in. This may deter some criminals who aren’t willing to attempt sneak-in burglaries. 

14. Don’t post about holidays on social media

Did you know that your social media posts can help out burglars? If you post publicly about going on holiday, you have no idea who can see this information. In the worst case scenario, criminals can find out where you live and break into your home while you’re away.

If you’re going on holiday this Christmas or at any point this winter, make sure you only post about your travels after you’ve returned. You should also steer clear of geotagging your social media posts, as this may tell strangers when you’re away from home.  

15. Keep valuables hidden

Thanks to Christmas gift-giving, you may accumulate more valuables over the winter period. Don’t advertise these gifts to opportunistic criminals – keep your valuables hidden by placing them away from windows and drawing the curtains when it gets dark.

It’s easy to forget about all of the packaging for these new gifts, but you should pay attention to how you dispose of it if you want to keep your belongings safe. Hide packaging for expensive gifts in other boxes before you recycle it, and try to shred as much of the paper as possible so criminals can’t get your name and address.

Winter storm safety tips

Although extreme weather conditions aren’t as common in the UK, it’s a good idea to be prepared for the worst. Sudden storms and strong winds could cause power failures in your neighbourhood, or extremely icy conditions could cause health hazards around your property. Here’s how you can be prepared for severe weather conditions this winter:

16. Have emergency supplies

In case of power failures, you should keep a few emergency supplies at home in an accessible location. For example, you need to have access to essential medication, a first aid kit, non-perishable food items, warm blankets, torches and batteries, bottles of water, and supplies for your pets to keep them safe in cold weather too. If you’re anticipating a harsh winter, make sure you get this emergency kit prepared beforehand for your peace of mind.

17. Be careful on icy roads and paths

Winter storms and snow can create very icy conditions on your driveway and garden paths. Black ice is particularly dangerous as you may not see it until you step on it.

Always tread carefully during the winter and avoid rushing around when conditions are icy. Having a security system with professional monitoring could be extremely important in this scenario, as the emergency services can be alerted immediately if someone is seen falling on ice on your outdoor camera or video doorbell

18. Look out for your neighbours

Winter can be tough, but creating a sense of community spirit can help you and your neighbours feel safe and secure. You could ask your neighbours if they need any help, especially if they’re elderly or suffer from health problems. 

Don’t know your neighbours? A great way to meet people in your community is to join groups like the Neighbourhood Watch. Plus, joining a safety-focused group like the Neighbourhood Watch is a fantastic way to help deter crime in your community and therefore make your own home more secure.

Thanks to the partnership between SimpliSafe and the Neighbourhood Watch, members of this community can access SimpliSafe home security products at a discounted price, and SimpliSafe customers will receive expert guidance on crime prevention and community well-being. You can also visit the SimpliSafe blog for more home security advice, including how to prevent burglars from climbing walls and how to keep your home safe while moving house.