Here are some basic tasks you need to do now to prepare for wintry weather and to ensure your family stays healthy and safe inside.
(BPT) - No matter where you live, there are bound to be weather challenges this winter. Your home may suffer damage, minor or major, from the onslaught of colder weather, along with wind, heavy rain, ice storms or even major snow systems. This can affect not only the integrity and value of your home, but may lead to costly repairs down the road. That's why it's smart to prep now, to prevent bigger problems in the future. It's also a good idea to make sure that your home is prepped for spending more time indoors.
Here are basic tasks to prepare for wintry weather, and to ensure your family stays healthy and safe inside.
1. Perform a safety check
Are your smoke and carbon monoxide detectors in good working order? Make monthly testing of these safety features a regular part of your seasonal household chores. For battery-operated units keep up-to-date with battery changes as per manufacturer instructions. Also be aware and take action if you hear any low battery alarms. Also, do you have a home fire extinguisher in your kitchen?
2. Ensure clean indoor air
Make sure your home’s heating and air conditioning units are in good condition, and schedule regular tune-ups to avoid unpleasant surprises. Change your furnace filter frequently, so your air quality stays clean indoors, where you’re likely to spend more time as temps get cooler. Also, consider setting up a schedule with a professional to have your ductwork cleaned on a regular basis.
3. Keep the outside out
Check weatherstripping around exterior doors, replacing where necessary, then seal and caulk exterior wood, since wood trim can rot around windows and outside doors. Walk around the outside of your home with spray foam gap sealer and caulk to plug gaps, cracks and holes in siding and around windows. Find and seal air leaks where you may be losing valuable heat and letting in the cold. Many energy companies offer an energy audit to discover where you may be losing both heat and money — and advise you on ways to improve your insulation. Making sure your gutters are cleaned out and in good condition helps protect your home's exterior from exposure to moisture due to rain, ice or snow melt.
4. Install back-up power
Power outages occur for many reasons, usually outside your control. In major storms, outages can last for days or even weeks when a large area is affected. To protect your home and family, an automatic standby generator gives you peace of mind — even when you’re not at home.
Look for a unit that comes in a durable aluminum enclosure with options that can withstand up to 181 mph winds and can be installed as close as 18 inches from your home (important for areas with tight lot lines and strict building codes), such as select models of KOHLER standby home generators. They will automatically start and restore your power in seconds, whether you’re home or away.
Units can be monitored remotely from your smartphone or laptop. The unit is permanently installed near your home, and provides high-quality power that can run your sump pump, furnace or air conditioner, and major appliances — plus delicate electronics. KOHLER generators feature commercial-grade engines built to withstand extreme workloads over many years, and they come with a five-year warranty. This is not a do-it-yourself job; you will need to work with a professionally licensed and insured generator installer.
5. Trim your trees
Now is a great time to get your trees trimmed, while it’s easier to access branches without all the extra foliage. Trimming dead branches helps prevent problems that can occur due to wind or ice storms, when a falling branch could endanger a power line, car or home. Like all professional contractors, work with tree service companies that have proper credentials and insurance.
6. Check your roof
Whether you inspect your roof yourself or hire a professional, it's a good idea to take care of repairs before winter wind, hail, snow and ice do their worst. Look for blistering, curling, buckling — or missing — shingles. Moss or lichen growing can indicate decay underneath. Any visible sagging of your roof, rust or cracks around flashing or vent pipes should also be repaired promptly to avoid later problems like leaks.
Don't let the calamities of winter take you and your family by surprise. Doing prep work and maintenance on your home now, with a focus on safety, will ensure that you're ready for anything that may come your way — even if it's just hunkering down in your home for the season.
Plan Ahead for Power Outages
Summer storms are often accompanied by damaging hail, high winds, heavy rain and lightning that cause widespread power outages affecting homeowners’ peace of mind, and their pocketbooks. Get ready for the chance of inclement weather and power outages ahead with these tools and resources.
Plan Ahead for Power Outages
(Family Features) Summer storms are often accompanied by damaging hail, high winds, heavy rain and lightning that cause widespread power outages affecting homeowners' peace of mind, and their pocketbooks. Homeowners can prepare for possible power outages by establishing an emergency plan for their families.
"The coming of storm season often motivates homeowners to start thinking about how to keep the power on and avoid the costs and inconvenience associated with power outages," said Dan Roche with Briggs & Stratton.
Get ready for the chance of inclement weather ahead with these tools and resources:
First aid. Assemble a basic first aid kit with assorted sterile, compression and adhesive bandages, rolled gauze, adhesive tape, disinfectant, antibiotic ointment, tweezers, scissors and instant cold packs. Add pain relieving medications (including children's strength, if applicable) and a few days' worth of any regular medications you take.
Emergency kit. Include items such as a flashlight, battery-powered weather radio, bottled water, non-perishable snacks and personal hygiene items. Don't forget extra batteries that fit your devices and keep a portable cell phone charger on hand. The compact Rayovac Phone Charger, which is compatible with most USB-powered devices, holds enough power to recharge a mobile phone up to three times (depending on device) and holds its charge up to four months. Find more devices ideal for your emergency kit at rayovac.com.
Comfort items. What constitutes comfort likely varies depending on your family composition, but may include things like stuffed animals, soothing blankets or small toys for little ones and more practical items, including pillows and sleeping bags, for older family members. Remember that a storm may leave you huddled in a confined space or without power for an extended period, so diversions such as travel-size games and cards can help pass the time.
Backup power. Portable generators provide a solution during an emergency power outage to power essential items, such as refrigerators, sump pumps and lights. An option such as Briggs & Stratton's Storm Responder Portable Generator is equipped with a digital control panel that provides everything owners need to know, including the amount of power being used, total lifetime hours of the generator and maintenance reminders. Ideal for first-time buyers, the Storm Responder features step-by-step start-up, shutdown and storage instructions, as well as a safety guide printed directly on the unit. Be sure you have a transfer switch installed in your home so you are ready to safely restore the power to your home in the event of an outage. To learn more, visit briggsandstratton.com.
While portable generators can provide users with flexibility and comfort, homeowners and renters should only use portable generators outside in order to avoid carbon monoxide poisoning. Visit TakeYourGeneratorOutside.com to learn more about portable generator safety.
Information guide. In the aftermath of a storm, having emergency information at your fingertips is one less stress to fight. Compile contact information for family members, friends and close neighbors, along with your insurance agent. Also include any relevant medical contacts or information. Stash your guide along with your emergency and first aid kits so it will be within easy reach if you need it.
Seasonal weather can bring unpredictable dangers to your home and family, but assembling the right materials ahead of time will help ensure your family is well prepared to ride out the storm.
Photo courtesy of Getty Images (storm)
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