Let it Snow: Winter Storm Preparedness Month and You

We’ve had a few tastes of it so far this year, but forecasters are foretelling everyone to get used to the sight of snow in the upcoming months. In honor of a possibly white holiday season, we’d like to begin December 2012–National Winter Storm Preparedness Month, at that–with a comprehensive list of tips for surviving the winter.

Everyone knows the basics of surviving winter; put your window wipers up overnight so that the don’t get snowed over and frozen to the windshield, beware of black ice and ice hidden underneath snow to curb chances of a painful fall, and, for goodness’ sake, don’t travel if the snow is coming down hard and visibility is highly impaired. But there are many tips and tricks tailored toward homeowners hunkering down and weathering the winter that are, albeit, less known, absolutely just as useful. For instance:

Before a winter storm:

● Make sure your home has a sufficient amount of fuel in case a situation arises where the oil truck can’t get to you for a tank fill-up or the electricity goes out for an extended period of time. If you lose heat, other issues may arise such as frozen and burst pipes that will cause major damage to the home. While you need to be well-stocked in the fuel department, keep in mind also that fuel sources need to be clean and well-vented to minimize the possibility of a fire. Remember to have candles and matches ready and be sure to practice fire safety and keep them out of reach of flammable objects and children.

● Winterize your house by installing additional insulation and adding caulking and plastic over windows as needed to keep in warmth and keep out that same icy cold that can wreak havoc on pipes. Speaking of pipes, make sure they’re all insulated, as well, and leave water dripping just a little from the faucets to further protect against freezing.

● Check that all of your home’s gutters are clear in the event of any type of precipitation. Rain can freeze and cause property flooding from lack of open waterways and snow is just as apt to melt and refreeze in the gutters, causing the same problem.

During a winter storm:

● Conserve fuel by keeping the home cooler than usual, or turning off the heat to parts of the house, if possible. While dealing with lower temperatures to extend the heat supply, don’t over-sacrifice at the expense of your water pipes.

● FEMA, the Federal Emergency Management Agency, has some great advice in the instance of freezing pipes: “If the pipes freeze, remove any insulation or layers of newspapers [from around them] and wrap pipes in rags. Completely open all faucets and pour hot water over the pipes, starting where they were most exposed to the cold (or where the cold was most likely to penetrate).”

After a winter storm:

● Check on everything. Make sure all water is running steadily and smoothly and that fuel is at a sustainable level to heat the home for at least the next few days in case of potential delivery delays. Verify that wind hasn’t knocked any winterizing accoutrements such as storm windows out of place and that all insulation is still in working order. Lastly, it’s crucial to clean off gutters. Snow piling onto them may cause the gutters to unhinge and–potentially–fall off, leaving the water coming off your roof no way to successfully and safely drain back into the earth or sewer. A quick brushing off of all gutters will prevent this kind of issue altogether.

And those are your most reliable words of wisdom when it comes to surviving winter anywhere that boasts changing seasons all year ‘round. Be sure to check back with us as the winter progresses because we’ll be here with more advice on winterizing and survival mode that just might get you through to 2013. Until next time, enjoy the impending winter wonderland.ter wonderland.

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