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Winter weather tips offered

With winter approaching, three threats of the season often present themselves: frozen pipes, ice dams and house fires.

State Farm Insurance offers several tips to avoid winter problems.

Frozen pipes can be prevented by disconnecting outside garden hoses, opening cabinet doors to allow heat to get to piping under sinks and vanities near exterior walls and running a small trickle of water at vulnerable cold and hot faucets.

If you suspect your pipes are frozen, turn off the water at the main valve.

An ice dam occurs when your roof is too warm. If there’s inadequate insulation, heat escapes into your attic to the underside of the roof. The heat melts ice and snow, causing water to run down your shingles. As it meets cold air near the gutters, it freezes again, building up a dam. Water backs up into the home and can damage ceilings, walls and other areas.

To keep a roof cold, make sure your attic is properly ventilated, make sure your attic has adequate insulation and weather-strip the attic door or insulate and weatherstrip the pull-down ladder or stairs to the attic.

Almost half of the families in the United States use alternate heating sources like space heaters, fireplaces or coal or wood-burning stoves. These can be great sources of heat, but they can also be dangerous.

Review your fire escape plan with your family; make sure there are working nightlights at the top and bottom of stairs; have a heating professional check your heating system every year; replace your furnace filter; remove bird nests from chimney flues and outdoor electrical fixtures; inspect and clean dust from covers of your smoke and carbon monoxide alarms; keep all potential sources of fuel, like paper, clothing, bedding, curtains or rugs at least three feet away from space heaters, stoves or fireplaces.

When buying a space heater, look for models that shut off immediately if the heater falls over and never use a cooking range or oven to heat the home. Avoid using candles if at all possible and never go to sleep with candles burning. Discard candles before they have burned completely and don’t leave burning candles unattended. In power outages, use flashlights instead of candles.

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