Getting ready for winter can be overwhelming: when and where do you start? In this guide for winter preparations, you’ll find everything you need to do to stay safe when the temperature drops and enjoy your family winter to the fullest.
When the sun is shining bright and it’s warm outside, you don’t want to think about winter preparations. But the sooner you start the better. Why? That way you’ll have time to fix any leaks or carry out repairs to be fully prepared for the cold months ahead.
Burst pipes can cause a lot of damage. No one wants to deal with a flooded house, let alone when it’s freezing outside. Start by checking if your home’s stopcock works. It’s a small tap that controls the water supply in your house. Usually, you can find it under a sink, but it can also be hidden elsewhere. Turn it off and on again to make sure it works.
A working stopcock can minimize the damage if you have a burst pipe.
The next step is to insulate your pipes, by wrapping an insulation sleeve around them to prevent freezing and bursting. This is crucial for pipes exposed to the cold, for example, if they run through the attic.
Nothing is better than cozying up on the sofa with a book or your favorite show on a cold winter day… but a draft can really ruin the mood. To prevent cold air from getting in and the heat from escaping your home, caulk any gaps in your windows and doors. According to the U.S. Department of Energy, properly insulating your home can lower your energy bill by 5–10 percent! Sealing gaps in your wall, windows, and roof can also prevent mold growth. So, take some time to give your home a once-over and make it winter-ready.
Crackling wood in a fireplace is a winter staple. But first, have your fireplace checked and your chimney inspected to make sure it’s safe to use. Soot build-up can cause a chimney fire, so it needs to be cleaned at least once a year. If you don’t use your fireplace, close the damper to prevent the cold air from getting in through the chimney.
The downside of cozy winter evenings in front of a fireplace is the danger of carbon monoxide build-up. It’s important to keep it in check since you are less likely to open your windows when it’s freezing outside. Check your smoke detectors to make sure they are working properly. If you don’t have carbon monoxide detectors in your home, consider getting some to help prevent carbon monoxide poisoning.
Icy stairs can be a health hazard. You can ice-proof your stairs with rubberized mats, no-slip tape, or an ice-melting doormat. Alternatively, you can add some clear grip to any paint or varnish you use on your steps. This will help add traction to the entire surface of the step.
Stock up on de-icing products you can sprinkle on your sidewalk and stairs to avoid slips and falls. Clear the snow from your steps and sidewalk immediately after the snowstorm.
Driving in winter fog, ice, and snow is challenging, so get your car serviced ahead of winter to ensure it’s safe to drive when the temperature drops. Here are a few ways you can get your car ready for winter:
As much as you sometimes want to, you can’t spend all of winter indoors. Besides, a walk in the snow can help lift your mood and get your blood flowing. You just have to remember a few simple tips for staying safe in the cold!
The natural instinct would be to bundle up with thick sweaters and scarves when it’s cold outside. You can’t be too warm, right? Well, actually you can. The risk of hypothermia is higher when you’re sweating too much in the cold, windy weather.
So it’s better to wear several layers of warm clothing you can take off when you start feeling hot.
There’s a trick to winter dressing, whether you’re going on a hike or just walking with your family. These winter essentials can keep you warm in any scenario:
Ice and snow increase the risk of slipping and falling. To avoid injuries, wear a proper pair of shoes with a good grip on the sole when you leave the house and take small steps when you’re walking on a slippery street. Hold on to a handrail if you’re taking the stairs, and don’t rush. If you do slip, hold your hands close to your body and try to land on your back or buttocks.
One of the first things you need to do when preparing for winter is to learn the early signs of frostbite and hypothermia. Hypothermia occurs when your body starts to quickly lose heat after spending a long time in cold, windy, and often damp weather. Your risk of getting hypothermia is higher when you’re dehydrated, malnourished, or drinking alcohol in the cold. Seek immediate medical attention if you notice:
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Frostbite often affects fingers, toes, nose, and cheeks. Look out for these signs of frostbite:
The early stage of frostbite is called frostnip, and you can treat it by simply warming up the affected area. Later stages of frostbite require medical attention.
Ice, strong winds, and snowstorms can lead to power outages or you not being able to leave your house. So, it’s best to have a 3-day supply of water and non-perishable food prepared for when you’re snowed in. Additionally, put together a basic emergency kit in case you need quickly evacuate your home:
Some additional items to consider:
Pack everything in a bag that is easy to carry (a backpack or a suitcase with wheels) and keep it in a place where you can easily grab it.
It’s never too early to start getting ready for winter. After all, having your home and car winter-ready can spare you a lot of time and effort in the colder months. So check your pipes, clean your fireplace, and get your car serviced before the first frost. Pack a winter emergency kit and learn about the early signs of frostbite and hypothermia. These winter preparations can ensure you're ready for anything the weather throws at you.