The holidays have arrived, and with them comes the bustle of gift shopping, hosting, and for many, snow. Our November home maintenance checklist will help you with safe turkey preparation, winter weather safety, and home security if you’re going out of town.
November home safety checklist
Before you fire up the range for Thanksgiving, make sure your cooking habits are in good shape. Between 2014 and 2018, the NFPA estimated over 100,000 home fires started from cooking.1 Safe cooking with kids and adults will make your holidays a little brighter.
Follow a few of these basic guidelines:
- Keep flammable materials like curtains or rags away from the stove and oven.
- Don’t leave cooking unattended.
- Turn off appliances after food is done.
- Read and follow all cooking instructions.
- Have a fire extinguisher ready for emergencies.
Check out our guide to Thanksgiving safety to learn more.
How to cook a turkey safely
Remove crumbs from the toaster
The remnants of hundreds of breakfasts lie at the bottom of your toaster, and those crumbs can pose a serious fire hazard. Most toasters have a trap door that allows you to safely remove crumbs and clean the depository.
Clean out the pantry and refrigerator
You’ll spend a lot of time in the kitchen this season, and an organized space can make your holiday cooking that much easier. Throw away expired food and tame that mess in the fridge. (Plus it will make room for leftovers.)
The dishwasher cleans your dishes, but who cleans it? Give your dishwasher a well-deserved scrub to remove detergent grime and buildup both inside and out. Then run it on the “clean” cycle. Your glassware will thank you.
Launder throw pillows and blankets
Give your guests the gift of fresh laundry. Wash the sheets, pillowcases, throw pillows, and blankets in your house. Regular washing keeps icky stuff like dust mites at bay and prevents allergens in your home from building.
Also, give blankets and pillow covers a turn in the washing machine.
Some pillows won’t hold up to being fully submerged, so you’ll have to tackle those with a lint roller and a spot cleaner. After all, fluffing will get you only so far.
It’ll be okay. Promise. The only truly scary things under there are dust bunnies. Get some help moving the bed so you can vacuum or sweep underneath. You’ll sleep easier at night.
Check dryer and hoses for lint
You should be emptying the lint trap in the dryer every time you do laundry, but keep in mind that not all the fuzz ends up in the filter. Check the dryer and hoses, and clean any lint buildup to prevent your next load from going up in flames.
Check water softener and add salt if needed
If you’ve noticed your water seems to leave spots everywhere, your softener likely needs attention. Add salt only when the reservoir is completely empty.
Wipe down cleaning equipment
This may not have occurred to you, but cleaning tools get dirty. Really dirty. Brooms, mops, and vacuums are the workhorses of your house, and they deserve a once-over now and then.
Wrap the pipes for winter
If you didn’t do it last month, early November is a good time to start preparing. Prevent pipe freezes later in the season by wrapping the pipes in your basement. A water leak detector downstairs can also catch leaks that may happen during the winter.
Pretty much everyone who has ever been in your house has touched this. Everybody. Grossed out yet? Disinfect, polish, repeat.
Check for leaks around sinks and toilets
While your toilets and pipes might sweat a bit, anything that’s puddling or dripping consistently should be inspected for leaks. The last thing you need is water damage from an unattended gusher.
Run water and flush toilets in unused spaces
That bathroom no one ever uses? The toilet probably has quite the ring since you last checked it. Make sure everything is still in tip-top shape and give it a flush.
Obviously, cleaning the bathroom should be a regular chore. But with guests coming and your schedule filling up, now’s the time to really get scrubbing. Deep clean your bathroom by sweeping, mopping, and vacuuming the floors. Use bleach (with gloves) to clean the shower, toilet, sink, and other surfaces.
5. Check CO and smoke detectors
With all the cooking and activity going on in your house over the holiday, don’t forget to test your smoke detectors and CO detectors. A simple test or fresh batteries can keep your main defense against home fires up and running.
Having salt on hand for icy sidewalks or sandbags for vehicles that need a little extra weight is imperative. Don’t wait until the next storm blows in to stock up
You’ve been putting it off, but if you live somewhere with frequent snowfall, it’s time to switch your tires before you’re caught on the road in unsafe conditions.
Prepare an emergency kit for home and car
If there’s one rule of the road, it’s that you never known when an emergency will strike, so be prepared with a fully stocked survival kit both in your vehicle and at home.
With so many folks doing their holiday shopping online, porches and front steps will be ripe for poaching porch pirates ready to pilfer packages. This year, consider installing a video doorbell to watch for thieves.
Video doorbells can also make it easier for receiving guests and talking to visitors at a distance.
Arm the home security system if you travel
If you’re going out of town this November, be sure to arm your home security system and turn on your security cameras. If you don’t already have the equipment, you can find affordable options to keep your home safe while you’re away:
- National Fire Protection Association, “Home Cooking Fires,” July 2020. Accessed October 29, 2020.
- Centers for Disease Control, “Food Safety Tips For Your Holiday Turkey,” November 2019. Accessed October 29, 2020.
- United States Fire Administration and Federal Emergency Management Agency, “Prevent A Turkey Fryer Fire,” Accessed October 29, 2020.
- Centers for Disease Control, “Personal And Social Gatherings,“ October 2020. Accessed October 29, 2020.