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.
- Buy some cozy blankets and house shoes. Don't wear socks around the house - they can be slippery and cause a fall.
- Test your smoke alarms and carbon monoxide detectors and replace their batteries.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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!
- Check on your outdoor pipes, hoses, and faucets for leaks. Leaky faucets can create ice slicks all around.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- Cover and secure all vents and openings to prevent insects, birds, and rodents from coming in to nest.
- Trim overgrown branches back from the house and electrical wires. They can become heavy with ice and snow and cause damage to the home.
- 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.
- Check for leaks and misaligned pipes - you want the water to funnel away from the house's foundation to prevent flooding.
- Equip your car with an emergency kit. The kit should include a snow shovel, blankets, a flashlight, water, and first-aid kit.
- 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.
- Make use of weather apps. Know what's coming before hand and stay well informed before winter storms come.
- Keep in touch with your neighbors so that you can check on each other. They are your closest resource when you need help.
- 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.
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.