From freezes in Texas, to wildfires out west, to hurricanes in the east, and everything in between, it’s fair to say the weather is getting a little unpredictable these days. In New England, we know this all too well – it could be freezing in the morning, and 70 degrees and sunny in the evening. While meteorologists and Magic 8-Balls may not have all the answers, there are some steps you can take to prepare your property for winter and it’s various weather events. The following precautions are a great way to get started.
Weatherize for Winter
As we head into the end of the year, the temperatures will continue to drop. Before it gets too cold, take advantage of making these winter-proof changes to avoid costly damages:
- Clean your gutters. Ice and snow can build up on a house, garage, or shed roof, so cleaning out leaves and debris will help prevent clogging and ice dams. If ice and snow do start to accumulate, you will have to dislodge them to prevent a mini-avalanche.
- Stock Up. Having a supply of salt, dirt, ice-melt, and any other winter supplies you need ahead of time can prevent slipping and add traction where needed. If you have a wood burning fireplace or stove, stock up on firewood as well to keep your home warm.
- Catch drafts. Who wants to be cold indoors during the winter? No one! If you feel drafts anywhere in your home, replace weather stripping around doors and windows now so you can keep toasty warm and save money on your heating costs in the coldest months.
- Pipe Dreams. Burst pipes can really put a damper on things. Shut of outside water valves, bring in any hoses, and consider insulating your pipes to prevent bursting.
- Install and set a programmable thermostat. Using technology can not only save you money, but also can make your HVAC system operate more efficiently.
- Change the rotation of your ceiling fans. This is an easy but often overlooked item on the checklist. The fans can be used to rotate the air flow so that the heat rising into the ceiling gets pushed down to where the people are.
Make an Emergency Kit
Fact: unexpected emergencies are stressful. Anything you can do to alleviate some of that stress is a worthy investment, and nothing is more soothing than knowing you have the supplies you need to weather the storm. That’s why building an emergency kit should be at the top of your to-do list.
To begin, choose a bag that’s big enough to carry a variety of objects, but small enough to transport without too much trouble. Double-strapped bookbags with multiple pockets are always a solid option. Next, fill it with the following essentials:
- Refillable water bottle
- Water purification tablets
- Protein bars
- First aid kit
- Prescription drugs
- Battery-powered or hand-crank radio
- Face masks
- Toilet paper
- Garbage bags
- Local maps
- Extra batteries and backup charger
The final step to building your emergency kit is knowing where to store it. Pick a location in your house that’s easy to find and reach even during a power outage. Beneath a bed or inside a linen closet are great options for keeping your kit out of sight, but accessible.
Consider a Backup Generator
One of the biggest dangers and inconveniences of inclement weather is a power outage. When your power goes out, so do all the appliances that rely on it, including freezers and refrigerators, HVAC units, electrical cooking equipment, and, of course, lights. That’s when a backup generator could literally be a lifesaver. However, backup generators are not a one-size-fits-all solution.
The first step to choosing a generator is deciding how much power you want restored to your house. If you want to make sure power-intensive appliances like HVAC units are still operational during an outage, you’re going to need a bigger generator. If you’re just trying to keep the lights on, a smaller option will suffice.
Once you’ve determined your size needs, you’ll need to consider fuel sources for your generator. Modern generators can be powered by everything from natural gas to diesel fuel to solar panels. Choosing which one is right for your home will come down to availability of resources and how much money you want to spend. Whichever option you choose, it’s important to familiarize yourself with all safety precautions relating to your chosen generator. Your best bet is to consult a certified electrician before deciding.
Stock Your Pantry With Nonperishables
If you don’t want to incur the cost of a backup generator, or if the power outage is lasting longer than expected, you’ll need plenty of food around that you can consume at room temperature, and without much preparation. One great example is peanut butter, which is full of protein and nutrients and typically doesn’t require refrigeration after opening. In a similar vein, nuts and trail mix are another handy solution you can eat by the handful.
If someone in your household has a nut allergy — no worries! Canned tuna or jerkies provide many of the same vital nutrients as peanut butter and are also ready to eat right out of the packaging. Pair them with some crackers (that don’t come from a factory that processes nuts), and it’s almost like eating an hors d’oeuvre.
In addition to bottled water, another item you may want to consider keeping around are multivitamins. When food options are limited, it’s hard to make sure you’re getting the right mix of vitamins and minerals during your meals. Having a container of multivitamins will ensure you’re getting a diverse array of nutrients, even if you’re eating peanut butter or beef jerky three times a day.
Don’t Forget About Fun
When a natural disaster strikes, fun will probably be the furthest thing from your mind, but that panic likely won’t last forever. At some point, you’ll be in need of some form of entertainment to distract you while you wait for normalcy to return. One option with a variety of uses is a simple deck of playing cards. Whether you’re playing Go Fish or carefully constructing a house, cards are a perfectly portable way to pass the time.
If you’re able to stay in your home during the weather event, there are plenty of lo-fi board games on the market capable of making power outages a little less stressful. Pick a classic like chess or backgammon or ask an employee at your local game store what they would recommend. And if you’re looking for something a little more collaborative, jigsaw puzzles can provide hours of fun – depending on the number of pieces. Just remember to keep track of them. The last thing you need to pair with the stress of a weather event is the agony of realizing one of your puzzle pieces is missing.
The Bottom Line
The cold is coming and the more prepare you and your home are, the better! Follow our easy tips for a happy and warm winter home. Don’t neglect the other seasons as well, home maintenance is best when done seasonally. Got any other tips for keeping your property and yourself safe when the unexpected happens? We would love to hear them! Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org to discuss your favorite nonperishable foods, analog entertainment, or anything else you rely on to weather any storm.