9 Things to Do to Prepare for Winter
We hate to break it to you, but winter is on its way. We know it doesn’t technically start until late December, but come on, we’re Canadian. Most of this country has to be mentally prepared for snow as soon as we head into fall months.
While the first snowfall is always a bummer, you can at least get ahead of your winter prep before we enter a full blown blizzard season. There are things you can do in your home and car to make sure the season is not just more pleasant, but safer as well. And a few organizational moves will also make that first snow-white morning a bit less of a scramble.
1. Condition Your Home (and Yourself!) to Cooler Temperatures
As soon as our homes get chilly, the kneejerk reaction is to run to the thermostat and crank up the heat. While our bodies are instantly grateful for our natural impulses, our wallets will start to feel the pain not long after.
If you usually keep the house at a balmy 24°C, try lowering it by one degree each week for a month. Slowly changing the temperature allows you and your family to adjust. This tip has the potential to save you quite a bit of money this winter.
Another great tip he shares to help your home capture more heat during the winter is to seal or wrap your windows to prevent cold air from seeping in, and open the blinds and curtains in the morning to take advantage of the natural heat from the sun that will pour through your windows and help raise the temperature of those rooms a bit.
2. Watch Out for Pests
This is the time of year that rodents, spiders, cockroaches, and other pests seek shelter from the winter elements — and unfortunately our warm homes make the perfect haven. It’s important to take preventative measures now to keep these out because they can spread disease, bring in other pests such as ticks and fleas in to the home, and trigger asthma and allergies.
To stop them from moving in:
- Seal cracks and holes on the outside of your home to help prevent rodents from getting inside. Be sure to check the areas where utilities and pipes enter the home. A mouse can fit through a hole the size of a dime.
- Replace loose mortar and weather stripping around the basement foundation and windows.
- Store firewood at least 20 feet from the home. Mice and ants can make their nests in woodpiles and easily gain access to your home if the pile is nearby.
- Rodents can hide in clutter, so keep storage areas well organized, and store boxes off of the floor.
- Eliminate all moisture sites, including leaking pipes and clogged drains. Pay special attention to kitchens and bathrooms, as these areas are particularly vulnerable to cockroach infestations.
- Keep attics, basements, and crawl spaces well ventilated and dry. Install door sweeps and repair damaged screens in windows.
- Screen vents to chimneys.
3. Stock Up on Winter Gear
You wouldn’t face an impending winter storm without the proper essentials indoors — bread, milk, toilet paper, WINE/BEER — and you shouldn’t forget about the supplies you’ll need to take care of the outside of your home either. Do an early check to make sure you have rakes, shovels, snow blowers, sidewalk salt, and other winter cleanup items that you’ll need to keep everybody safe who will step on to your property before, during, and after a winter-weather event. Rush the hardware store a day before and you’ll likely find very little stock left or face supply-and-demand pricing, which will only make matters worse. While you are at it, take stock of your winter gear (scarves, mittens, toques, etc) to make sure you have enough for the whole family and no one has outgrown anything.
4. Check Vents & Chimneys
Obstructed chimneys and vents can cause carbon monoxide poisoning. Stay safe and warm this winter by:
- Inspecting vents & chimneys to make sure they are clear of leaves and vines or anything other blockages. Remove anything around a vent or chimney as it can block the exhaust, which can cause carbon monoxide to back up into the home as well as trigger heating system shut-off or malfunction.
- Install, check and/or replace smoke alarms and carbon monoxide detectors. Fire and carbon monoxide can be deadly and silent. Manufacturers recommend replacing detectors every five years.
5. Prevent Frozen Pipes
The last thing you want this winter are burst pipes that have frozen because you didn’t properly prepare them. WikiHow has a great step-by-step DIY article on how to properly prevent pipes from freezing.
You can also check to ensure sprinkler systems are blown out and winterized and exterior faucets and water lines are insulated; drain the air conditioner pipes; and if your air conditioner has a water shut-off valve, turn it off.
If you have a swimming pool in your yard, it’s important that you properly winterize that as well.
6. Get Your Flu Shot
COVID-19 is all that’s in the news right now but seasonal influenza claims thousands of lives each year. Give your body the best chance of avoiding the flu — and fighting it if you do catch it — by getting a flu shot. While you’re at the doctor, update your prescriptions and take care of any other check-up type necessities, so you can make fewer trips when the weather is poor. If you don’t believe in getting the flu shot, you could stock up on some natural remedies like Vitamin C, echinacea, and zinc to help ward off nasty colds.
7. Get Your Car Ready
Some ways to prepare your car for winter emergencies are topping off your gas tank, pre-treating your locks so they don’t freeze, covering your car if it’s susceptible to the elements, and keeping the engine block warm. Also, now would be a good time to think about getting those winter tires out.
You can also keep a first-aid kit in your car (at all times, not just during the winter), along with hand warmers, flares, heavy blankets, and, if you are planning on traveling very far, a few days’ non-perishable food and water in the event that you’re ever stranded. These items literally could be the difference between life and death.
8. Replace Shingles and Clean Gutters
Hop up on the roof to inspect and replace any loose shingles to avoid a potentially devastating in-home disaster from melting precipitation that could make its way inside. At the same time, clean out your gutters to remove leaves, sticks, and other debris that can block the flow of rain and melting snow and ice and which also will put an added strain on your gutters with additional precipitation on top of it.
9. Consider Your Well-Being
Winter is notorious for bringing on bouts of depression as a result of many nefarious factors — cold temperatures, limited daylight, cabin fever, etc. That’s why it’s important for you to plan ahead and prepare yourself based on how you expect you’ll feel when the going gets tough.
These preventative measures will be different for every person but you probably have a good idea of the initial steps you can take to make the best of this situation. Start taking Vitamin D, consider a light box, and do things that keep yourself physically and mentally healthy.