Preparing for Winter
Be a good winter weather neighbor. Help your elderly neighbors by assisting with snow removal and fall yard work. Donate to or volunteer at the local food pantries and homeless shelters, as they experience increased need in cold weather.
While some of our readers may have never even seen snow in their whole lives, many of us have already been through the first snowstorm of the season. Here are a few tips for thriving in winter weather.
Prepare Your Home. Your home and pocketbook will fare through winter better if you make sure your weather stripping and insulation are in good shape. These help keep warm in and cold out in winter months, and the opposite in hotter weather. Make sure you have a snow shovel if it can snow where you live. You should also have a supply of water, emergency food, a radio, and lighting (candles, flashlights, and/or lanterns) that can be used in the event of a power outage while trapped in the home for a few days. Budget for higher heating bills in winter, and have a backup plan if your primary heating method fails – using a fireplace, wearing extra clothing, etc. Make sure heating appliances are safe – clean the chimney periodically if you have one, change the filter in your heater regularly, have a CO detector installed, make sure your fire alarm batteries are fresh, check for frayed electrical cords and open heating elements that can burn at the touch or cause fires such as electric heaters or plate burners. Also, make sure garden hoses are disconnected before a freeze to help avoid pipes breaking. In extremely cold weather, weather forecasters may advise running some indoor faucets at a trickle to avoid pipe burst.
Have on hand some winter weather healthy food favorites, such as warm cereals like oatmeal, soups, chilis, casseroles, hot chocolate, herbal tea or coffee, and crock pot meals. Make sure walkways in front of your home are safe for delivery workers by removing snow, having adequate lighting, and using deicer if needed. Most local laws require you to clear your walkway within 24-48 hours of snowfall, but often it is needed much sooner – just be careful, as pushing oneself too hard while snow shoveling is a common cause of heart attack among those people with risk factors.
Prepare Your Car. Park it in a garage in winter if you have one. Allow your car to warm up a few minutes before driving if the weather is cold. However, when doing so, it is better to lock the car doors and use a spare set to reopen them, as some car thieves look for unlocked idling cars on cold nights and mornings. Make sure you have a window scraper and emergency supplies in your vehicle for use if you should become stranded. Emergency supplies might include water, food, blankets, flares, safety triangles, spare tire kit, air compressor, battery cables, seat belt cutter, glass breaker, flashlight, etc. In some regions, investing in snow tires and block heaters may be warranted. Consider having a cell phone with GPS tracking in all cars or on your person. Allow extra drive time for poor road conditions and check that your battery and tires are in good shape, your lights all work, and you have plenty of windshield wiper fluid and antifreeze. If you have a choice, avoid using a rear-wheel-drive vehicle on icy roads. If your car becomes trapped in snow, stay in the car and stay warm as much as possible, but be aware you could suffer CO poisoning if you run the engine for heat while the exhaust is plugged by snow.
Prepare Your Wardrobe. Make sure young children and elderly family members wear warm clothing outside in cold weather – including hats, gloves, boots, and scarves when necessary. Designate a place in the home where the winter clothes are easy to access. A decent winter wardrobe might include at least one of each of the following per person: hats, gloves, a winter coat, a fleece jacket or vest, scarf, snow boots, yaktrax, wool socks, long underwear, shearling slippers or similar winter slippers, sweaters for indoor/outdoor use, long fleece pajamas, as well as extra blankets, comforters, or even an electric blanket for the home.
Prepare Your Heart. Be a good winter weather neighbor. Help your elderly neighbors by assisting with snow removal and fall yard work. Donate to or volunteer at the local food pantries and homeless shelters, as they experience increased need in cold weather. Contact your utility company about programs to add a few dollars to your heating bill each month to help prevent needy neighbors from having their heat cut off due to being unable to pay the higher winter bills. Consider donating blankets or similar resources to needy believers in other parts of the world as well.