With the harsh winter weather only days away, there are several step that you can take to make your home safer, and more comfortable, when the freezing weather arrives. Its best to get started now, before a weather related crisis catches you unprepared. What precautions should you take?
Keep a supply of spare batteries. Heavy ice and snow can easily take down power-lines, cutting of your communication with the outside world. Extra batteries for a radio will solve part of the problem, by allowing you to keep track what is happening with the latest weather forecast.
If you use a fireplace, be sure to have it checked for creosote buildup every year. Have it cleaned if necessary. Also, be sure to have your heating system check and serviced. If you heat your home with a kerosene heater, be sure it is in proper operating order, and well vented.
Smoke and carbon monoxide detectors are essential during the winter months, especially if you use kerosene or space heaters. Check these devices frequently, and be sure to have spare batteries handy in case you need to replace the old ones.
Waterlines, especially those which are outside, or run along exterior walls are in danger of weather related damage should the temperature fall below freezing. Be sure that all pipes are wrapped with UL-listed heat tape before the cold weather arrives.
Dont forget to take into consideration hidden dangers that may lurk outside your home. Survey any trees that are close to your house, and remove dead limbs and branches. Ice and snow can cause tree limbs to break. A large limb, covered with ice, is capable of penetrating your roof, and poses a significant danger to your family.
Check the roofs drainage system. Gutters should be free of leaves and other debris. To help prevent foundation damage, make sure that water draining coming off the roof drains away from your house.
Outdoor steps and handrails should always be kept in good condition, but during freezing weather this is especially important. Never neglect loose boards or rails. Also, be sure to keep the steps free of any object which might cause an accident.
It is a good idea to keep a close eye on fuel levels. Keep tanks filled. Should they begin to run low, be sure to call the utility company and order a resupply. If you heat with kerosene, never store it in the house, but in a secure, dry area away from the house.
Caulking and weather stripping your doors and windows will help keep your home more comfortable during the cold weather, as well as keeping your power bills down. You might also want to consider replacing window screens with storm windows during the winter months.
Perhaps the most important way to prepare your home for winter is to maintain an adequate emergency supply of food and water. Should a severe winter storm strike your area, you may not be able to get to the grocery store for several days. Be sure to keep your pantry stocked with with enough food to last at least three day, or longer.