Winter weather safety tips for your family, pet and home
A snowstorm can mean big problems if you're unprepared
Before the arrival of winter weather, homeowners need to prepare for the potential of extreme cold temperatures and inclement weather. You and your family can stay safe by prepping the home, getting a survival kit together for your vehicles and making sure pets are safe even when they're outside.
The onslaught of snow, ice and colder temperatures can compromise home comfort and drive up the cost of energy bills, unless you take the necessary steps to address winter conditions.
- Winterizing: To properly winterize your home, you'll need to check the exterior insulation and seal air leaks. Without insulation, your home will lose a lot of heat, which can spike energy bills. However, heat loss means you and your loved ones will have to endure an uncomfortable home, too. Damaged insulation also lets heat loss occur, so upgrading insulation to current building codes will keep more heat inside. You may need the help of a professional to properly assess the home's insulation. Sealing air leaks also keeps more heat inside the home, and you can do this project yourself. Use a tube of caulk to seal around areas like window and door frames, utility protrusions through the building's structure and in the attic.
- Preparing for inclement weather: Heavy snowfall and ice can wreak havoc to the exterior of your home. Concrete becomes damaged over time from contracting and expanding due to fluctuating temperatures. Salting can also damage concrete with time, so it's best to seal the concrete to protect walkways and driveways. Once your walkways and driveways are sealed, don't skimp on salting! Keep adequate supplies of salt on hand at all times and promptly salt the areas to prevent slips and falls.
- Enduring winter weather: As extreme weather conditions arise, you'll need to have certain items on hand that keep you and your family members comfortable if the electricity go out or you become snowed in. Put together a home survival kit that includes canned goods and crackers, bottled water, flashlights and batteries and medications.
Should you find yourself stranded due to a vehicle break down or bad weather, a car survival kit will keep you and your family warm and fed. If you're snowbound, you'll want the kit to include blankets, hats, gloves, a first-aid kit, bottled water, flashlights and batteries and high-caloric foods like granola bars, dried fruit and energy bars. Don't forget to keep a pair of booster cables in the trunk, along with some sand or ice to get you out of a ditch or give slippery roads traction.
Pets are particularly susceptible to harm during cold temperatures and extreme winter conditions. If you keep your dog outside during the winter, make sure your pet can seek shelter in an insulated dog house. The door should have a flap to keep the elements out, and the door should face southeast. Provide fresh bedding comprised of straw, because it stays drier than a blanket.
Finally, skip the groomer visits and keep your dog's hair longer during the winter, so their fur protects them from the cold. If your dog has short fur, he or she can wear a doggie coat to stay warm. If the temperature goes down to extremes, below 20 degrees Fahrenheit or so, bring your short-haired dog inside. If your dog has thick fur, it can safely stay outside — with the right shelter — in temperatures down to 0 degrees Fahrenheit. If temperatures drop lower, bring your dog inside! Finally, in all weather, make sure your outdoor dog has plenty of fresh unfrozen water and food.
Put together a plan for winter weather safety, whether you're in your home or traveling. Take precautions to keep outdoor and indoor pets safe, too.