Spring is a perfect time to make sure your home is protected from common summer perils like falling trees, animal damage, barbecue mishaps and burglars. Don’t let these hazards ruin your summer fun.
Yes, summer is on the way, and while that means you get to enjoy backyard barbecues and sitting on the deck, it also means that your home is at great risk from certain hazards that peak in the summertime. Before you go get the sunscreen and your straw hat, you might want to make sure you’re protected from these common summer hazards.
In Ontario, storms happen throughout the year, but the spring is the time to inspect your home and the surrounding property to see how roofing tiles, fences, trees and other structures have fared over the winter, and take the necessary steps to avoid or mitigate the damage that a subsequent storm can cause.
- Check to make sure any larger trees are healthy and stable. A dead tree can come down during a summer storm and do major damage to your home or surrounding properties.
- Check for rot in your fence, especially the posts. Better to partially rebuild your fence than have it collapse during a summer storm and possibly cause damage to other structures.
- Check your roof. If you’ve lost roofing shingles, that could let water into your home during a storm, and cause much larger losses.
This might also be a good time to talk to your broker about adding coverage for overland flooding. Different from “sewer backup”, overland flood coverage is for instances where spring melt or heavy rain causes an accumulation of water that makes its way into your home. Although this kind of flooding has become much more common in recent years, only about 15% of homeowners have this vital protection.
Like anyone, burglars would rather do their work when the weather is nice. Also, the summer is when homeowners are most likely to be away. And statistics show that burglaries are indeed more common in the summer months. Aside from the insurance implications, nobody wants to be the victim of a burglary. There are some common sense actions you can take to lessen the chances that it will happen to you.
- Install a monitored burglar alarm. Most insurers will give you a discount if you do.
- Leave some lights on when you’re not home, or put your lights on a timer so they turn on and off as they would if someone were home. This will discourage burglars.
- If you’re away on vacation, have someone pick up mail so that it’s less obvious that you’re gone.
- It may seem silly to say, but check that all your locks are in good working order.
Damage from pests
During the winter, rodents or bugs will try to use your home to shelter themselves from the elements. Damage from pests is generally not insurable, so when you’re inspecting your home in the spring, if you notice any signs that insects or larger critters have established a presence in your home, you’ll want to get it taken care of right away. Watch for the following:
- Scratching or scurrying sounds coming from the walls or attic
- Strange or unpleasant smells
- Unexplained holes in walls, furniture or fabrics
- Unexplained grooves in exposed wood (likely termites)
- Anything that looks like a nest (debris gathered together)
- Dead critters
Of course, if you see actual live critters in your house, you can assume there are more. Get it taken care of by a professional as soon as possible. Again, damage from pests is not covered by home insurance, and if not addressed, can lead to serious structural damage to a home.
Every year in Canada, thirty or so people drown in backyard pools. Although stats aren’t diligently kept, there is evidence that many of these deaths could have been prevented through proper fencing and locked gates. Though home insurance covers you financially if someone drowns in your pool (and their family sues you), that’s really no consolation. It’s obviously much better to prevent drownings from happening at all.
If you have a pool or hot tub in your backyard, you should be familiar with the rules. Essentially, you need to have a fence around the pool with a locked gate, so as to prevent children from getting in. If you have an above ground pool, you should never leave the ladder attached to the pool when you’re not using it, again, so kids can’t easily get in.
If you have an in-ground pool with a fence, the spring is a good time to inspect it and make sure it’s in good condition.
Barbecuing in the backyard is a favourite summer pastime in Canada. But barbecues can be dangerous if not maintained and used properly. In the U.S., fire departments respond to close to 9,000 home grill fires a year, including close to 4,000 that spread to the house itself. The majority of the fires are started by gas grills. We couldn’t find stats for Canada, but it’s safe to assume that per capita rates are similar, meaning about 400 house fires a year caused by barbecues.
Here are a few precautions you can take to keep your family safe:
- Only use your barbecue outdoors, and position it away from anything flammable.
- Make sure everyone (kids especially) know to keep far away from the grill when it’s on.
- Check your gas grill at the beginning of the barbecue season for signs of gas leaks (soapy water test) or damaged hoses. Don’t use the barbecue if it’s damaged.
- If you have a charcoal grill, don’t use starter fluid after the fire is lit.
- Don’t let grease drippings build up in drip trays or elsewhere around the barbecue. These can ignite and spread fire beyond the barbecue.
It’s also a good time to check your insurance
As long as you’re making sure that your home is safe for the summer season, it might also be a good idea to check your home insurance policy to make sure you have all the coverage you need, and that you’re not paying more than you should. One of our experienced home insurance brokers would be happy to get you 5 or more quotes from some of the best insurance companies in Ontario, and advise you on coverages that you may want to add to your policy. In many cases, we can get you a better price, for better coverage! Give us a call today.