November 7, 2014

Time To Think About the "W" Word

The following is a guest post from Arar Han and deals with an important topic at this time of year: preparing your home for winter. In addition to the comfort and financial benefits, the author reminds us that personal safety is one of the goals.  I encourage you to consider which of these steps are ones you should take.


Many of us have enjoyed the long summer, but now winter is coming. Preparing your home for the coming season is no easy task, so the time to start is now. This Winterizing Checklist will help you keep winter at bay. With these tips, you will lower energy usage, reduce the risk of home damage, and prevent dangerous slips and falls.

Staying Cozy
  1. Buy some cozy blankets and house shoes. Don't wear socks around the house - they can be slippery and cause a fall.
  2. Test your smoke alarms and carbon monoxide detectors and replace their batteries.
  3. Replace your furnace's air filter. This will increase its effectiveness and improve the air quality in your house. Moreover, this can prevent fires while reducing the energy bills.
  4. Turn the furnace on and let it run for a while before you need it. You may need a technician to come relight your pilot light if it went out during the summer. When you first start it up after a long hiatus, it is normal to smell a strong odor. This should be short-lasting. If the smell persists, shut down the furnace and call a professional.
  5. Inspect and clean your fireplace and chimney. It is important to do routine maintenance before you sit down to enjoy your crackling fire. Dangerous chemicals can build up in the chimney and flow back into the home. Stay safe by keeping the airways clean, and make sure to open the flue before starting a fire.
  6. Check the weather stripping around windows and doors and reapply caulk inside and out where necessary. Seal the outside of your home to keep the winter out and your senior cozy inside. Keep the weather outside, where it belongs!
Preventing Falls
  1. Check on your outdoor pipes, hoses, and faucets for leaks. Leaky faucets can create ice slicks all around.
  2. Turn off exterior faucets and drain water from outdoor pipes and sprinklers. You'll want to do this before the first frost arrives to guard your home from pipe bursts.
  3. Stock up on ice melt and sand for when the ground becomes slick with ice. You can sprinkle it before you as you walk, particularly when you first go outside.
  4. Apply non-slip sprays or scuff the surface to create better traction. These sprays create a hard, durable surface that creates texture so that the ground itself prevents slips.
  5. Hire someone to keep the sidewalks shoveled and de-iced. Don't wait until the winter is in full force. Prepayment sometime means that your senior will be first to get plowed when the time comes.
  6. Make sure all areas that could be slippery have well-secured handrails. You want to prevent falls before they happen, particularly on the stairs and walkways outside of your home.
Keeping Nature at Bay
  1. Cover and secure all vents and openings to prevent insects, birds, and rodents from coming in to nest.
  2. Trim overgrown branches back from the house and electrical wires. They can become heavy with ice and snow and cause damage to the home.
  3. Take care of the gutters. Clean the debris and make sure they are not loose or sagging. Ice and snow can pull gutters off the house if they are not secure. After removing the debris, rinse the gutters with a hose.
  4. Check for leaks and misaligned pipes - you want the water to funnel away from the house's foundation to prevent flooding.
Preparing For Anything
  1. Equip your car with an emergency kit. The kit should include a snow shovel, blankets, a flashlight, water, and first-aid kit.
  2. Create a power-outage survival kit. Power outages are common during the winter months, so you can never be too prepared. Include a portable battery-operated radio, blankets, a flashlight, candles and safety matches. Also include canned food with a can opener, plenty of water, and extra batteries.
  3. Make use of weather apps. Know what's coming before hand and stay well informed before winter storms come.
  4. Keep in touch with your neighbors so that you can check on each other. They are your closest resource when you need help.
  5. Keep in touch with your loved ones on a regular scheduled basis. They will love hearing from you, and you can all check in with each other to ensure everyone stays safe.
Winterizing your home now will make the transition into the colder seasons easier. Prevent problems before they happen so you can enjoy the changing seasons with no worries.




Arar Han is co-CEO of Alert-One, a personal safety technology and consulting firm headquartered in Williamsport, Pennsylvania, with offices nationwide. An NAHB Certified Aging in Place Specialist, Arar holds a dual degree from Boston College, and a Stanford MBA. Originally from Seoul, she currently lives in Palo Alto with her family.

Satisfying Retirement received no compensation for this article.

19 comments:

  1. Interestingly, even though the average winter daytime temperature in Scottsdale is in the mid 60's, this list contains much of value for me. In fact, with night time lows now in the 50's I did test our furnace two days ago just to be sure it works.

    ReplyDelete
  2. I pretty much do everything on the list that applies to us here in TN, although next year I will have to strip and recaulk the windows. One other suggestion that I have always done is for outside faucets. Once you remove any hoses, cover the ones coming out of the house with those insulation covers you can get from Lowe's, Ace, Home Depot and the like. They are only styrofoam but they seem to help. We have remote faucets as well but I have not seen anything to help with them.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I see those Styrofoam covers on water faucets at RV parks so obviously they work. Thanks, Chuck.

      Delete
  3. All excellent and timely advice. But there's one thing missing: Be sure to make reservations for your Sunbelt vacation before everything is booked up and the planes and the rentals get more expensive!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. That is the most important tip of them all.

      Delete
  4. Here in Idaho, we're already running the furnace at night. Gutters - check; Hoses and faucets - check; fireplace and chimney - next on the list; Forgot about the foundation vents! Thanks for a nice list!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. We usually don't need the furnace on for overnights until Thanksgiving, some years even later. It is kind of a game I play: how long can I last? Betty calls for heat before I do so I always "win."

      Delete
  5. I am in Central California so we also don't have snow (we do have ice occasionally) but this is a great post. The tips were beyond winter; I never thought about now wearing socks around the house because you could slip.

    Thanks for "thinking outside the retirement box" & jogging my memory to check everyday processes.

    pam

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yes, I related to the socks mention because there are some wood and tile floors, plus wooden stairs in our home that I have slipped on while just wearing socks.

      Delete
  6. Thanks for these reminders! I must prune some limbs that could be problematic if we have ice/breakage. As we've gotten older, slipping and falling have become a big deal. Both hubby and I purchased Nike non-slip athletic shoes and have been thrilled with them. They've "saved" us several times. It's good to be prepared for whatever winter brings us.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. For a good example of what different parts of the country have to worry about, I have a large tree in the backyard that must be trimmed and thinned before summertime. Our violent monsoon storms can take down a large tree if there isn't sufficient room for the wind to blow through the branches. My "W" is "S."

      Delete
  7. Time to break out the warm blankets! Thanks for all of these great reminders.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It is 42 degrees here this morning...cool enough for us that warm slippers are needed this morning.

      Delete
  8. I've got the power outage survival kit ready at home! I've learned my lesson in the past and it's best to be prepared just in case.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Good for you. Power outages at any time of year can be inconvenient, but in the winter they can become dangerous in many parts of the country.

      For us, the loss of air conditioning in the summer means a trip to the closest motel. It isn't possible to stay in a home without AC when the outside temperature is 110.

      Delete
  9. Great recommendations! We recently had the pleasure of getting on the roof and clearing out the rain gutters. Lots of leaves and debris were removed and not a moment too soon. We've had non stop rain here in the bay area!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. The drought certainly isn't over, but parts of California have had a decent dent put in the rain shortage over the past several weeks. You have had some very impressive storms.

      Delete
  10. I shudder to think what's in my gutters...guess I'll find out this weekend as it completely slipped my mind until I read this.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Gutters and downed leaves....the evil twins of late fall.

      Delete

Inappropriate comments will be deleted