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How can you keep your home and vehicle safe as the temperatures drop?

As temperatures drop, Better Business Bureau (BBB) urges consumers to make sure their homes and vehicles are ready for winter.

“The last thing anyone wants is to be left out in the cold when winter hits,” said Michelle L. Corey, BBB St. Louis president and CEO. “By doing a few simple things, you can keep your family safe from the elements.”

Take steps to avoid waking up to a faulty heating system or frozen pipes. Plan ahead to make your vehicle reliable in adverse conditions.

Here’s a checklist of what you can do to keep safe during these winter months:

For your home: 

  • Find quality companies to work for you. If you need heating or plumbing help, turn to BBB for information about Accredited Businesses in your area. Check out Business Profiles, which contain customer reviews and consumer complaints. You can see how others have fared with the company and how the company reacts to any problems.

  • Get it in writing. When you contract a job, even when it’s an emergency, make sure to get everything you and the business agree to in writing. Make sure what is being done is within your budget. Read the contract thoroughly and have all questions answered before you sign. Remember to pay by a credit card if possible in case you need to challenge it later.

  • Get an expert. You may think you can repair that leaky or cracked pipe, but a plumber can help you locate the problem and fix it for good. Plumbing repairs can be tricky and may end up costing you more if it is not fixed right the first time.

For your vehicle: 

  • Check the fluids. Make sure all of the fluids in your vehicle are full, including the coolant, oil and washer fluid. The coolant must have the correct antifreeze/water levels to prevent the fluid from freezing in your radiator.

  • Double check your tires and battery. Make sure your tires are the correct pressure and that your battery has enough power. Tires lose air in cold weather, while batteries can also lose their power in frigid temperatures.

  • Win the battle with the elements. Various road maintenance treatments can harm your vehicle’s paint job. To protect your paint, apply a fresh coat of wax prior to the start of the snowy season. Washing your car regularly can undermine the affect those treatments may deter rust from forming on your vehicle.

Avoid scammers: 

  • Don’t bow to the pressure. If there is a weather event that damages your residence, don’t be tempted to hire someone on the spot. Make sure you research the business before agreeing to hire it.

  • Ask for credentials. If a business is going door-to-door seeking work, make sure you ask for a solicitor’s permit and other identification so that you can research the company to make sure it is legitimate. Check for a vehicle with a business name, phone number and license plate number.

  • Shop around. Get at least three estimates for any work that is to be done. Make sure they are written estimates. Be wary of low estimates, which could be a set up for a bait and switch tactic.

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