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Checklist to Winter Proof Your Home

Winter is often unpredictable and home owners report billions of dollars in damages every year from weather related claims.  There are some simple precautions that can be taken to help minimize and avoid winter related disasters.
Clean out gutters- remove leaves, sticks and debris so the melting snow and ice can freely flow.  This can prevent ice damming, a condition where water is unable to drain, refeezes under the shingles, remelts and seeps into the home.  You can also try gutter gaurds to eliminate this cleaning.
Trim trees and remove dead branches.  Ice, snow and wind could cause branches to break damaging the home or car and possibly injure someone walking on your property.
Repair, sidewalks, steps and handrails to prevent a trip/slip and fall.  Unrepaired items can be lethal when covered with snow and ice.
Seal cracks in holes in outside walls/foundations and make sure skylights and other roof openings have proper weather stripping to avoid water intrusion.  Protect outside water sources from freezing with inexpensive covers.
Keep the house warm and add extra insulation to minimize heat escape that can melt snow that can refreeze causing the ice dam and protects pipes from freezing/bursting. Learn where the main water valve is in case of a rupture and make sure all smoke alarms are functioning.  Also consider adding a carbon dioxide detector , since a well sealed home can trap this toxic gas.