Winter Safety Tips and Hot Chocolate

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What is a mountain’s favorite type of Candy?
Snow Caps.

You know what I dislike more than my sense of humor? Winters in Connecticut. Sure, sometimes the snow can make the nutmeg state look magical, but it can also impact your insurance in ways that other things can’t. So, sit back, hug your snow shovel, and burn your mouth on your hot cocoa while I tell you about some ways in which you can prepare.
When I was young, I had dreams of being a princess that lives in a castle or having the ability to fly. Entering adulthood meant trading those wonderful dreams to ones a little more out of reach, such as owning a snow blower or feeling rich enough to buy and store an extra generator for my house. I am reminded of this every time I oversleep for work and must shovel out my car with a cheap snow shovel, all while cursing myself out for ever thinking that cleaning snow like this is “good exercise”.
When it comes to laws regarding who can sue and who gets sued in a situation of slippery walkways, I am just as lost as you. However, googling the words “lawsuit” and “sidewalk snow” makes it seem as though every lawyer to ever exist will have your back in squeezing out every penny of a homeowner that didn’t want to shovel. Different cities have different ordinances. For example, in the town of North Haven, where your favorite insurance agency Trager Reznitsky is located, property owners are responsible for clearing all snow and ice from sidewalks adjacent to the property within 24 hours of snowfall end. The good news? You have one whole day to procrastinate. The bad news? If you neglect to do it, you can get legally sued. Take my word for it, when I say waiting 24 hours will only feel worse as the snow packs down and brings your sciatic pain back… again.
Ever since taking the time to learn about all the wonderful exclusions that come with having a Homeowners Insurance policy, I take clearing snow off my porch just a little more seriously. Did you know that almost every Homeowners Insurance policy excludes losses due to the weight of ice, sleet, and snow? That is why it is super important to have an insurance agent that you feel comfortable going to and asking what the fine print on your policy means.

Worry not, my frozen friends, there are numerous steps you can take to make sure that you are fully prepared for the upcoming winter.

1. Are you insulated or outdated?

It is important to check and make sure that your home is properly insulated. Insulating pipes that are exposed to cold weather, such as pool supply lines and water sprinkler lines can make or break the difference of thousands of dollars. Doing this and taking pictures of the preventative methods you used can give you the upper hand if the pipes ever do burst and cause water damage to your home. You can get fancy about it and purchase pipe sleeves and specific items to cover areas that are the biggest risk on your property, but as your money savvy – generic product buying – will wait in line to do bottle returns friend, I will mention that using good ole newspaper can do the trick. As a fair warning, it will only aid in areas where there is no prolonged and frequent cold exposure.
A quarter inch of newspaper wrapped around a water pipe can provide minimal insulation – alas some is better than none. Additionally, unheated attics are the most common places of pipe burst incidents, so take some time to venture up, say hello to the spooky ghost residing there, and make sure that you are not creating a mini Antarctica.

2. Be your own Salt Bae

Go to the store, buy some Ice Melt, and sprinkle it dramatically on your outside stairs and walking areas. Put on a show for your neighbor, I am sure they will appreciate it. Do a little happy dance knowing that you covered yourself against your great Aunt Betty, who is such a sweet lady, suing you for everything you have if she falls on your icy sidewalk. Even if you do not have a great Aunt Betty (lucky you), do a happy dance anyways knowing that you won’t end up a laughingstock on YouTube when you unfortunately fall on your own property.

3. Check your roof and then raise the roof

I care about you, kind readers, therefore do not see this as a sign that today is the day you should parkour yourself up a long step ladder, climb onto your steep roof, and check every shingle. However, if your roof has not been updated in more than ten years, this would be a good time to hire a professional to take a closer look. If your gutters have not been cleaned in years, the formation of icicles is almost guaranteed. Having gutters cleared of leaves and debris sometime in the late fall can save you a headache in the winter. Take a long snow rake and take your pent up 2021 aggressions out on the snow and ice that forms on the corners of your roof. Try to make a habit out of inspecting your roof for damage and missing shingles every couple of years.

4. Check for damage

When is the last time you checked your water tank? If you’re like me, the answer is never. Well, dear readers, it is time. March up to your water tank, check around for cracks, and if you find one, have it fixed as soon as possible. Kick it for good measure and exclaim “Not today water tank!” (Optional but not recommended).
The average life of a water tank is 10-15 years, which equals out to 95-100 human years. If you know it hasn’t been replaced since you moved in 20 years ago, perhaps it’s time to splurge on a brand new one.

5. Don’t keep it cool, keep it toasty.

Mandatory temperature screening will be required for fans attending the Foreigner reunion concert…
If you’re hot blooded, they’ll check it and see.

Just like we have been getting our temperate checked for more than a year now, one way to make absolute sure that your pipes do not freeze, and you do not have to use a flame thrower to thaw them out, is to make sure your house is nice and toasty throughout winter. Your house should stay warm throughout winter, even when you take a vacation with the money you should have used for the water tank.
If you feel cheated for racking up your bill trying to heat a house that you are not residing in for a while, I highly recommend getting a smart thermostat. One of the best decisions I ever made was installing a programmable thermostat that I can control from the comfort of my own phone. Not only does it make me feel like the tech guru of my family, but it also gives me the ability to control the temperature of my house no matter where I am.
Many stores run sales for such a commodity multiple times a year, making it more obtainable than you may think. It will also save you money in the long run by giving you the ability to utilize the eco mode. Make sure you secure the thermostat with a plastic box equipped with a lock so you and only you are the temperature keeper of the house. (Optional but recommended).

Okay… so you did not prevent, is it all coming to an end?
Is your whole world going to come a halt? Is it all your fault?

Not quite. There are measures you can take in some instances to prevent further damage. If you survive a freezing night and wake up to realize that when you turn your sink on to see a small trickle instead of a steady stream, it is safe to suspect a frozen pipe. DO NOT close the faucet. As you try to unfreeze, keeping the faucet open will allow the water an escape plan and will lower the chance of a burst pipe. Some safe things to use when unfreezing a water pipe include an electric heating pad and a hair dryer, NOT a flame thrower. If you do have a flame thrower, I would first like to know why and I would secondly like to request to borrow it sometime- for scientific purposes of course…
If the frozen pipe is out of reach, it is not the time to learn plumbing via the internets. Call a professional plumber so he can fix the problem and you don’t end up setting up an accidental swimming pool in your basement.
My last tip for you is a simple one. Make sure that you understand the exclusions and coverages of your Home Insurance policy. Feel free to call up your local agent at Trager Reznitsky Insurance who will gladly discuss your current policy as well as what you can do to make sure you are covered for the upcoming winter, perhaps over a nice warm cup of hot chocolate. And if you get told that we do not have any hot chocolate in the office, I was not the one who drank it all, no matter what my coworkers tell you.

Lastly, here is a hot chocolate recipe for you just in case you get snowed in and decide to work from home when the conditions are “Just too treacherous to drive in”
21+ only. Please drink responsibly

Adult Hot Chocolate

4 cups Whole milk
2 tbsp Sugar
1/2 Vanilla bean or 1 tsp vanilla
6 oz Dark Chocolate (60%)
1 tsp Sea salt
4 oz Bourbon
2 oz Frangelico
2 oz Irish cream
1. In a small saucepan heat milk, sugar, salt and
vanilla over medium-low heat until sugar and
salt is completely dissolved. Make sure the milk
does not come to a boil. Add the chocolate in
pieces, whisking until completely incorporated.
Remove from heat.
2. Once removed from heat, stir in bourbon,
Frangelico and Irish cream. Serve immediately
with marshmallows.
3. Share a cup with your great Aunt Betty.

Written By: Elina Petrashkevich

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