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Preparing A Home
Auto Preparation
Driving on Slick Roads
Wind Chill
Cold Injuries




Preparing For Winter Weather

  Winter weather can have many affects on life both inside and outside your home. Here are some tips for preparing before a winter weather strikes and tips for dealing with the consequences of the weather once it arrives.

 Preparation Around the Home
Preparation at home really begins long before the storm arrives. The following is a checklist of home maintenance that provides greater protection during freezing weather.

Windows and Doors

  • Regularly, at least once a year, check for air gaps in windows, window panes and around doors. This will stop heat loss during cold temperatures.

If a draft is felt then caulk gaps around window trim, door trim or glass panes in older windows to stop the draft. Around the moving parts of windows and doors, weather stripping can be used to stop drafts. Weather stripping is available at many Home Improvement centers as well as local department stores of various types. Metal, Vinyl and Foam Strips are available. Foam Strips are the easiest to apply and come in a roll which sticks like tape to the door seal after pealing off the backing. Other types attach by nailing in place with small brads and are much more durable than foam. Seek help if needed to apply the stripping because the use of the door or window can be affected if the wrong stripping is used or applied improperly. Ask the supplier which type is best for you, they should be able to answer any questions.

Spray foam can be purchased at most any home improvement center or department store. Follow the directions on the can to fill larger gaps.

The Foundation

Seal up or cover open vents or access points around the foundation to stop outside air from freely flowing into the crawl space or basement if you do not have a slab floor. This minimizes heat loss and keeps pipes from freezing as quickly. Pipes freeze much quicker in moving air.

Cover pipes with heat tape in areas where freezing may occur, follow all directions for the heat tape use. Don't skip hot water pipes. Hot water pipes can actually freeze quicker than cold water pipes. No this isn't a joke. The mineral content of hot water is changed by a process called electrolysis which causes it to freeze quicker in some circumstances than the cold water pipes.

Other Items

Get Chimney's cleaned and inspected if using a fire place or wood stove.
Check batteries in smoke alarms, Install Smoke Alarms if there are none currently installed.
Get a battery powered Carbon Monoxide Alarm and install it properly.

In an emergency these tips may help.
  1. Use towels to block under drafty doors.
  2. Cover windows with plastic sheeting from a local department store. Using cardboard or thin wooden strips to staple or tack the plastic over windows on the outside. From the inside plastic sheeting can be applied approximately 2" - 3" from the glass (to leave a insulating air space) and attached around the window with wide tape (note: some tapes can remove the finish from wood work so a painters tape that won't remove the finish may be best).
  3. Close off unused rooms and block gaps under doors with a towel. Note: Try to keep any water pipes above freezing and leave some water dripping to ward off broken pipes. In very cold temperatures water may need to trickle from faucets if pipes are exposed to the outside temperatures.
  4. Dress Warmly to be more comfortable in chilly conditions. Wear flannel pajama pants and shirt and/ or thermal underwear under outer clothing to increase layers and warmth. Wear layers of loose fitting clothing over this. If need be remove layers if you become warm, Don't sweat or get to hot, this can cause other problems, even leading to frost bite during a period of inactivity, such as sleeping, if moisture is in the clothing next to your skin.
  5. Beware of using non electric space heat  not approved for indoor use. You can be poisoned by odorless and colorless carbon monoxide released from burning fuels of any kind including a cooking stove flame. Assure adequate ventilation if you have a open flame. Candles and light bulbs also give off heat if needed (be very careful not to place a heat source near any item that can catch fire).
    Keep fuels like kerosene outdoors, not inside. Never Ever store or bring gasoline indoors for any reason it is highly explosive and flammable.
  6. If the Toilet backs up see Emergency Toilet Maintenance.
  7. If closing off a restroom containing a toilet during freezing weather, and the room temperature will drop below the freezing level, pour some RV antifreeze (purchased at a automotive or department store) into the bowl and tank of the toilet. Leave water dripping or trickling from all faucets to prevent freezing if need be.
  8. If necessary retreat to a single room in the interior of the home with as few outside windows as possible. Cover windows with plastic sheeting, garbage bags or blankets. Close blinds, curtains or draperies to stop cold air. Use small electric space heater, candles (beware of carbon monoxide) or lamps for extra heat. A clip on light and heat lamp supply heat also if electricity is available. (be very careful with any heat source, a home fire will not help your situation and may result in your death or the death of others.) Bundle in layers of clothing.
  9. If necessary build a shelter using mattresses, blankets and other available items including extra clothing in the center of the room. Huddle with others if available to share body warmth.
  10. Evacuate to a friend's home or local public shelter if needed. Leave a note for family members if you cannot contact them. Make arrangements for care of your pets since these will likely not be allowed in a public shelter.


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