The summer months are a lot of fun, with warm weather and family vacations. The fall months bring color changes, cool weather, and lots of festival fun. The winter months like to creep up on us while we’re having fun, so it’s important to take time, step back, and make sure we’re prepared for the cold, ice, and snow.
Preparing Your Home for Winter
Take some time to survey your home, inside and out. Turn on the heat and make sure it is functioning properly, whether you need it on or not. It’s better to find out the furnace isn’t working in October or early November than on that first cold day when you really need the heat. When in doubt, hire a HVAC crew to come out and do a systems check.
Does your home use oil for heating? Make sure your tanks are filled. If your home has ceiling fans, make sure you flip the reverse switch so that you can create an updraft and push your warm air back down towards the floor where you are.
A survey of the outside of the home is critical as well. Check out your roof to make sure there is no damage that needs to be repaired. A handyman or roofer should be able to make simple repairs. If you have a fireplace, you’ll also want someone to come out and check your chimney, do any maintenance and cleaning necessary, before you begin to use it.
Clean out those gutters to prevent drainage issues and the formation of ice dams. You may also want to put some fresh caulk around your doors and windows to help prevent cool air from entering your home.
Preparing Your Car for Winter
Your car needs a little bit of attention, too. How much will depend on the climate you live in. This is a good time of year to take your car in for a general tune-up and oil change, especially if you haven’t recently had one. Make sure your heating system is working properly.
You’ll also want to take a general survey. Check to make sure your lights are working, your tires are in good shape, and replace your normal windshield wiper fluid with the kind that is designed to not freeze. Always keep the gas tank at least half full so that you won’t be without heat if you are stranded.
Finally, make sure your vehicle has an emergency kit. This should include a charged cell phone (if you don’t already have one) or a charger for the cell you use daily, a blanket, bottled water, non-perishable snacks, a flashlight, and batteries. You should also have an ice scraper and an emergency flag you can put on the outside of your window in case you’re stranded.
Preparing your home and car for winter won’t take a lot of time, and the time spent identifying potential hazards could ultimately save you hundreds or thousands in home repairs – or your life if you’re stranded in a car in a storm.