RISMEDIA - As winter sets in, there's nothing better than hibernating on the sofa with a good book or classic film. But having this spoiled by a home emergency can add a real chill to your winter warmth, especially if it's preventable.

We're all familiar with the issues winter forces upon us: the boiler breaking, pipes bursting or a break-in, which can make the harsh effects of winter far more severe.

Planning ahead now can help protect you against these potential problems. Here are some simple tips from John Lewis Insurance to prevent home emergencies from happening. Many of them are relatively quick and easy to do.

Quick fixes:
* Change the battery in your smoke detector or install them if you don't have any - it's a simple task that can save your life. And make sure you test them regularly.

* Inspect your roof for missing or cracked tiles. If repairs are needed, get them done as soon as you can.

* Vacuum the coils on the back of the fridge. This will help your fridge work more efficiently and will help you save money on your power bills.

* Turn your mattress regularly. We all spend more time in bed over winter - turning your mattress regularly will extend its life and ensure a more comfortable night's sleep.

* Get your boiler serviced. If you haven't had your boiler serviced this year, now is the ideal time to ensure it's in good working order.

More time needed:
* Oil your power tools and if you have a gas-powered lawn mower, drain the gas from it. They will survive the winter better and be in top shape for spring.

* Check all taps for leaks and locate the main pipe to the water mains. Pipes can burst if they freeze so if you leave home for more than a few days, ideally you should turn off the water and drain the pipes.

* Bleed your radiators by opening the valve until water appears - they will work more efficiently.

* The cold doesn't deter burglars so be sure to inspect your locks and any burglar alarms - and consider using lighting timers for that lived in appearance.

Worth the effort:
* It may take a day or two to sort out but cleaning your gutters properly will guarantee they won't get blocked or overflow.

* Trimming back trees is always recommended in the autumn.

* Clean out the garage before anything is stored that can get spoiled by the cold.

Finally, preparing an emergency kit is a great way to make those small and big emergencies as easy to handle as possible. This is what you should have at hand's reach:

* A small tool bag containing a torch, a roll of insulation tape, spare fuses, spare batteries and a screwdriver

* A radiator key

* A fire extinguisher if you have one, checked or recently replaced

* Important telephone numbers like the police, a trusted plumber, electrician, etc.