Here in New England, we just had our first snowfall… on Halloween. It was so bad in some areas that trick-or-treating had to be postponed for safety reasons. How lame is that? Fall is my favorite season, and Winter’s already butting into Fall’s business… like a jerk. I had to pull out my snow shovel the next day, and it got me to thinking about other things I should do to prepare for this jerk… Winter.
- Check Heating System: I turned on my heating system in mid-October just to check and, sure enough, it didn’t work. But, my father is a plumbing/heating expert, so I called him up and we had it ready to go that day. Some things you can do yourself, like change a dirty air filter. But don’t hesitate to call in a professional if you’re experiencing problems. If you use a fireplace, have your chimney inspected/swept. If you want to be thorough, you can get your entire home audited for energy efficiency. Professionals will analyze your home using several techniques and tools to find any areas where your home is leaking heat/energy. Visit EnergyStar.gov for more information.
- Seal Leaks: I mentioned the home audit, but some things you can figure out on your own. If you feel a draft by a certain door or window, that’s wasted energy. Some caulking might seal the leak around window and door frames. Weather stripping is another option for a door, and shrink-wrap can seal a window. If you have a basement, you might have a door that leaks cold air into the rest of the house. A draft guard is a cheap and easy fix.
- Clean the Yard: I need to mow the lawn one last time, and rake up any leaves/debris/branches lying around. I don’t want all that stuff sitting on top of the grass while covered in snow and ice for months.
- Car Maintenance: I recently replaced my car battery so I know that it’s all charged up. You don’t want to be caught with a dead battery in a snow storm, but there’s other stuff to check as well. Make sure your coolant and wiper fluid is topped off. You’ll also want to make sure you have certain supplies in the car like an ice scraper/brush, jumper cables, some spare clothes/blankets/gloves, a flashlight, and all the usual roadside necessities. I also like to keep a collapsible snow shovel in the trunk in case I need to shovel out away from home. You may also consider joining AAA. I am a member, and that service has definitely paid for itself over the years. Visit AAA.com for more information.
- Have Winter Supplies Ready: As I mentioned before, I’m already set with my shovel, but I’ll also make sure I have some ice-melt for the front steps and walkway. I also need to pull out the warm coat, gloves, hat, boots, etc.
- Smoke/Carbon Monoxide Detectors: If you don’t already have detectors, get some. If you already have them, make sure the batteries are fresh and the device is working properly. Carbon monoxide is an odorless poisonous gas that kills hundreds of people every year. The danger is greater in winter when homes are sealed tight and the gas can be emitted from gas appliances and heating devices.
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