It’s safe to say that we are now nestled right in the dead of winter. What does that mean for you? It means there’s no more time for procrastination… Winter storms are coming! Winter preparedness is crucial to both your family’s well-being as well as your peace of mind, so we’ve compiled a list of the most important things to remember this season.
Know Your Terms
The track to winter preparedness starts with being aware of exactly what’s going on. You hear these terms all the time but do you really know what they mean? The Center for Disease Control provided the exact definitions for us.
- Winter Weather Advisory: Expect winter weather conditions (e.g., accumulation of snow, freezing rain, and sleet) that could cause severe inconvenience and life-threatening hazards.
- Frost/Freeze Warning: Expect below-freezing temperatures.
- Winter Storm Watch: Be alert; a storm is likely.
- Winter Storm Warning: Take action; the storm is in or entering the area.
- Blizzard Warning: Seek refuge immediately! Snow and strong winds, near-zero visibility, deep snowdrifts, and life-threatening wind chill.
While “stock up” may be a bit of a stretch for some of these, all in all, they’re important things to have on hand in case of an emergency. A good rule of thumb for winter preparedness is to have enough supplies (food, water, diapers, meds, etc.) to last a week longer than you would otherwise need.
- Water: It’s smart to keep as much extra water around as you can. Besides being crucial to our well-being, we use it to bathe, wash clothes and dishes, and so on. Make sure to store the extra water in airtight containers in a place where it won’t freeze.
- Food: In regards to food, of course, it’s a great idea to keep a couple of loaves of bread in the freezer as well as non-perishables such as pasta, canned vegetables, and soup, etc. It’s also important to remember the special members of your family who need extra baby formula or pet food instead of regular.
- Electronics: In the event of an emergency it’s important to stay connected to both the outside world and your loved ones. Keep a battery-powered radio for important broadcasts as well as extra phone batteries and portable chargers to stay in touch with your loved ones and receive important updates. Don’t forget to have a manual can opener on hand as well!
- Safety: Every winter storm is an adventure in itself; you never know what you might encounter. That’s why it’s important to keep certain essentials around for every storm: a shovel, road salt, matches, candles, flashlights, and extra batteries, and a first aid kit.
- Other: Then there are the odds and ends, the things you don’t think about but you would really miss in case of an emergency. First of all, make sure you have extra gas in case you really need to go out, power your generator, or for some reason build a fire. Again, remember to consider your special loved ones when preparing for winter. This includes anything your pet, baby, small child, elderly relatives, or whoever may need (e.g. diapers, medicine, etc.) Also, make sure to have plenty of extra blankets and warm clothing around.
Prepare Your Home
Winter preparedness includes making sure every nook and cranny of your house can stand up to whatever this winter may throw at you. Don’t fret; it’s not as complicated as it sounds. Just follow these simple steps.
- Request Heating Maintenance: While we suggest regular heating maintenance, it’s especially important to make sure that your heating system is functioning at its best before the coldest part of the year.
- Make Sure Your Generator is Ready to Go: This is the time of year where your generator is actually used. If you have a portable generator, locate it, perform a test run, and stock up on extra fuel. If you have a standby generator, we (again) suggest regular maintenance, but you can also call and schedule a one-time appointment.
- Test Your Sump Pump: The easiest way to test your sump pump is to slowly pour a few gallons of water into the sump pit to see if the pump will turn on. This will prevent water buildup and damage.
- Check Roof For Damage: Checking your roof before any major storms for any damaged, loose, or missing shingles can prevent leaks and further damage as the weather worsens.
- Caulk Gaps in Doors and Windows: Experts generally suggest that if the gap between your windows and doors and the siding is greater than the width of a nickel it’s time to apply the caulk. This will cut down on uncomfortable drafts (all seasons) as well as cut down on your energy bill.
- Reverse Fans: This is simple, but reversing your ceiling fans will produce an updraft, which in turn will push heating air down from the ceilings (heat rises!)
- Turn Off External Faucets: To prevent frozen pipes, turn off all of your external faucets, disconnect your garden hoses, and drain the water from the line.