It's that time of year when the dip in temperatures can bring on some hazardous winter weather. This can include any combination of extreme cold, freezing rain, sleet, snow, and/or high winds which in turn can cause power outages, accidents, blocked roads, damaged homes, and possible injuries. Don't wait for the big storm to arrive. Take precautions ahead of time so you aren't scrambling at the last minute. Being better prepared for the winter season will ensure you and your families safety.
The unpredictability of the storm severity can leave many people helpless especially if it causes a power outage that lasts for days. Are you prepared for that? Do you have the necessary supplies? What about your home? Can the heating system, exterior facade, or pipes make it through another winter? And lastly what about your car? When was the last time the tires were checked or you had it routinely serviced? We take some of these everyday luxuries for granted and forget that it all needs maintenance in order to stay in top working order and support us when we actually need it.
Our home is our sanctuary and safe place so it's important that it is ready to withstand the winter season to keep you and your family safe. Often times we may overlook something that we don't realize could be impacted by winter weather so it's important to keep in mind that both the inside and outside of your home are prepped.
- Give your heating system a check-up and serviced professionally to keep it working properly.
- Ensure your home is well insulated and that any weather stripping or caulk around doors and window sills are still intact. Additionally, you can install plastic window coverings to help keep cold air out.
- Move any furniture that might be blocking any heating vents.
- Test your smoke detectors to confirm that they are in proper working order; it's possible you might need to change their batteries.
- Ensure that you and your family members know where your water valves are and know how to shut them off in case a pipe bursts.
- Remove any dead, broken, or rotting tree branches that could potentially fall onto your house (or neighbor’s) during a winter/ice storm.
- Check your fire extinguishers and instruct everyone in your house on where they are and how to use them.
- If you have an at home emergency kit, power outage kit, and/or first aid kit give the contents of those items a check. Look for any items that might be expired and replace them, check the batteries of flashlights or other battery operated tools and have spare batteries on hand.
While it's a year round issue, the winter is also a good time to think about carbon monoxide. It's pretty common to have gas powered heating and appliances that sometimes get used improperly during power outages.
- Install carbon monoxide alarms in several locations throughout your home and specifically bedrooms. These alarms will help to provide a warning if there is any carbon monoxide present in the air. They are easy to install and are pretty discreet.
- Make yourself and your family aware of the symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning. You can find out more info of CO risks and symptoms from the CDC.
Yourself, Family, and Pets
There is nothing more important than our own personal safety and that of our family, loved ones, and fur babies. If you'd don't have one already, take some time to create an emergency plan and practice your plan with your family.
- When clearing and shoveling snow be mindful of overexertion. If you have a lot of snow, work in smaller sections and shovel in lighter loads. Take frequent breaks and work at a slower pace.
- Check on neighbors and family that might be at higher health risk from colder weather conditions. They too might need some additional help getting prepped.
- Make sure you have any extra medications on hand for prescriptions you or your family members might have. If roads are bad enough, it could be a few days before you can leave to refill a needed prescription.
- Keep your pantry stocked with non-perishable food, paper goods (plates, paper towels, utensils, and toilet paper), and bottled water. Additionally, having a large cooler handy can be used to keep refrigerated foods cold for a small period of time should you lose power.
- If you plan on venturing out, let people know your plans. Wear the appropriate clothing, footwear, and layer for added warmth.
- Please don't leave your house pets outdoors during winter weather. Stock up on pet food, medications, and any other essentials they might need. If you don't want them in the house, at the minimum keep them in the garage but give them a warm sheltered area.
- Your household pets bathroom routine might also get interrupted so make sure you have extra cat litter, waste disposal bags, paper towels (for accidents), and/or puppy pads that can be used, if needed.
- If you have horses or other outdoor animals make sure they have a place to seek shelter from the wind, snow, or ice so they are protected and make sure that their food supply is stocked and they have access to water that won't be at risk of freezing.
We spend a lot of time in our cars commuting to/from work, running errands, and/or playing chauffeur to children. They often become somewhat of a second home with how much time we can spend in them so they too need to be equipped with essentials and winterized.
- If weather conditions are treacherous, only drive when you absolutely need to.
- Check the tread on your tires and replace any tires if any necessary with all-weather or snow specific tires.
- Top off antifreeze, windshield wiper fluid, gas, and other fluids.
- Keep a winter emergency kit in your car in case you become stranded. A few items to include in your winter car kit:
- Blankets, gloves, and hats
- Cell phone charger
- Snacks and bottled water
- Flashlights and a full charged spare charger for your cell phone.
- Scrapers and a small folding shovel to dig out of snow
- Kitty litter, sand, or ice melt to help provide traction.
- First Aid Kit
- Maps or road atlas
- If you must venture out, stay on main roads and ensure you’ve cleared all the snow from the top of the car, headlights, and windows.
There are so many great resources online to help you further prepare for winter weather. The Red Cross offers further breakdown of what to do before, during, and after a winter storm. Everyone's needs are bit different so seek out additional information online if you need to prepare for winter storms.
Disclaimer: The information provided here is based on my opinions and for informational use only. I do not claim to be an expert in this subject and any items/services/products/advice mentioned in these posts should be used at your own discretion, in accordance with your local & state laws, and you should follow applicable manufacturer’s instructions. You can read more about my privacy & disclosure policies here.