With clocks going back an hour this Sunday (4 April 2021) ICNZ is reminding Kiwis to check their house and property is ready for the cooler months ahead.

Tim Grafton, CE Insurance Council of New Zealand, says that while winter is a couple of months away, the long Easter weekend ahead offers a perfect opportunity to do the annual pre-winter check.

“The shift in weather this week has reminded us that winter is on its way.

“With heating being used for the first time in a few months, there are some things you can do to keep yourself and your family fire safe and reduce the impact of extreme weather on your home and property in the months ahead.”

Fire safety check

Last September Fire and Emergency NZ released sobering stats, saying that in the year to 30 June 2020 only 60 percent of house fire callouts they attended had working smoke alarms.

ICNZ encourages all Kiwis to check their fire alarms expiry date and batteries this weekend, to ensure they are working and can alert you if there is a fire in your house.

It also pays to check your fireplace and chimney and have a good stock of dry wood to prevent build-up of creosote inside the flu when it burns.

“Having your chimney checked and swept ahead of winter is an important step to reduce the chance of a house fire. Have a look at your house and contents policy as well as it may specify certain requirements you need to meet – and call your insurer if you have any questions.

Other things to check include:

  • Test non-electric heaters for gas or carbon monoxide leaks, and make sure all electric heating appliances are free of dust and have cables and plugs that are undamaged.
  • Check electric blankets are in good working order and install timers to ensure they’re not accidentally left on.
  • Heaters use more energy than standard appliances so check they are plugged straight into a wall socket to avoid overloading multi-boxes.

Minimise the risk of damage in severe weather

To minimise the risk of anything going wrong, it’s important to get out and check how well-prepared your house is for winter before it gets too cold and damp, with some simple steps able to be taken to help keep your property safe.

ICNZ’s pre-winter checklist for landlords and homeowners:

  • Check roofs and gutters to make sure they are well maintained and clear of debris and leaf litter.
  • Trim overhanging branches and remove dead or dying trees to reduce the likelihood of damage during storms.
  • Add drainage to pathways that collect puddles or may ice over.
  • Check the seals on windows, doors and roofs. Insurance doesn’t cover gradual damage so any existing or potential water leaks are best checked for and repaired regularly.
  • If you have an old hot water cylinder, consider having it checked by a plumber to ensure it’s functioning well and doesn’t need to be replaced. A ruptured hot water cylinder can cause a lot of damage and be expensive to recover from.
  • Make sure your home and contents insurance policies are current and you have the right level of cover. Be familiar with policy inclusions and exclusions.
  • Most contents policies will often cover temporary accommodation costs – this includes renters contents policies, and so if a place they rent is uninhabitable after a weather event they can be supported with somewhere to stay.
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