This post – Winter Readiness Checklist – was actually going to be about cleaning up the Herb garden, but then I thought “Who will care?” Real gardeners have their own methods and non-gardeners will see the topic and leave.
Therefore with my original plan shot down I decided to still focus on Fall chores, but include all the tasks that need to be done to be ready for winter.
Yes, there is the yard cleanup – failing to tend to flower-beds and herb/vegetables gardens at this time is just asking for bug and weed problems in the Spring – so that must be done.
If you live in an area with deciduous trees, like we do with having four huge maples surrounding the house, the leaves do need to be cleaned up.
There is also the matter of cleaning the lawn and garden tools/equipment and draining the gas out of any power equipment before putting them away for the winter.
But there’s more to Winter Readiness. As a matter of fact, there always seems to be so much to do that it’s easy enough to overlook some tasks. This Winter Readiness Checklist was designed to overcome that by listing the things that need attention, preferably before snow and ice hamper our movements.
Winter Readiness Checklist For In the Home:
- Stock Up: If you don’t have a garden then this is the time to stock up on fruits and vegetables at the very best prices. With a little bit of planning, freezing fruits and vegetables could supply healthy produce all winter long without having to pay inflated costs;
- Heating Check: Check the heating source, make sure the oil or propane tanks are filled and filters replaced. If wood is the heating source, get it now and store it inside if at all possible – have the chimney and stove-pipes cleaned. Make sure there is a safe place – like a metal barrel – to dump the ashes. Never assume they’re all burned out because there are usually a few hot coals left. If there are supplementary heat sources – electric, propane, gas-fired heaters – check them over or have them checked to make sure they are in safe operating condition;
- Keep the Heat in: Check for any drafts from windows or doors. Using an incense stick helps with this – if there is draft you’ll see the smoke moving. If there are drafts, now is the time to caulk or add/replace weather-stripping. Insulated drapes are an additional option;
- Humidifier Check: If you use a humidifier over winter, check the manual for the recommended annual inspection – replace worn parts to keep it operating the way it should;
- Home Safety Check:
- Check your Smoke and Carbon Dioxide Detectors. Are there enough of them to alert your family no matter where they are in the house? Do they need new batteries? Is the CO detector installed properly? I was surprised to discover ours had to be 20 feet away from a heat source. (Amazing what you learn when you read the instructions.) Always keep an extra supply of batteries on hand.
- Do you have a Fire Extinguisher near the exits. There’s no sense having one if you can’t reach it when there is a fire. Do you have a Fire Escape Plan? Is there a way to escape from every room in the house?;
- Are there secure locks on all your doors and windows?
Winter Readiness Checklist for the Exterior of the Home:
- The Foundation: Take some time and carefully walk around the house checking for cracks in the foundation, gaps where the foundation and siding meet, openings for pipes or cables, and around the windows and doors; Repair as needed (lots of instructional videos on the Internet);
- Outdoor Faucets: Drain the faucets before the first frost – do the same with hoses and put them away for the winter;
- Air Conditioner: For outdoor ones, have a good cover to put over it, indoor window ones, remove from the window, clean and put away;
- The Roof: It may be worthwhile to have a professional check your roof and make emergency repairs if needed. Clean out the eavestroughs and make sure the downspouts aren’t clogged. Just run the hose into the eavestrough and see if the water is discharging the way it should. If this isn’t done you could end up with ice build up behind the trough, damaging the roof and possibly leaking into the house;
- The Walks: Make sure that walks and steps are safe and that railings on steps and decks are secure. Winter is a time when slips are not uncommon, falling against a loose railing and having it give way could cause serious injury.
Winter Readiness Checklist for Vehicles:
- Keep your vehicle properly tuned for optimum performance. Regular tune-ups can fix serious maintenance issues, such as a faulty oxygen sensor which can improve gas mileage by up to 40 percent;
- Check your tires. Check your vehicle’s owner’s manual to find its optimal tire pressure, and check the pressure whenever there are significant changes in temperature.
- Check your vehicle’s gas cap. Gas caps that are loose, damaged or missing can cause gas to evaporate.
- Replace dirty air filters. Replacing a clogged air filter can improve your vehicle’s efficiency by up to 10 percent.
- Have spark plugs checked and replaced if necessary. A misfiring spark plug can reduce your vehicle’s fuel efficiency by up to 30 percent.
- Snow Tires: Snow tires were not covered by the AIA/CAA article but if you live in snow country this is something to seriously consider. Last year, on our way to have our tires changed from all-season to snow-tires, we had a difficult time pulling away from an icy corner. The way home, after the tire changeover, felt much safer.
- Vehicle Emergency Kit: Review your car’s emergency kit and do NOT store it in the trunk!
Winter Emergencies: With the weather changing, ice-storms and associated power outages are happening more often. What would you do if you had no power for a week? Would you have heat, food (and a way to cook safely), do you have emergency contacts and a way to contact them – that is, a way to charge the phone (or have a landline), do you have a portable or wind-up radio to listen to what’s happening outside, how about a light-source? Do you know First-Aid and CPR training, is your first-aid kit well stocked? Take some time to think about not having power and how you would manage, always keeping safety in mind. And always keep a good supply of the right kind of batteries on hand. May not hurt to throw some in the car’s glove compartment either.
Finally, check your snow removal equipment – snowblower, shovels, rakes – make sure they’re in good shape and in good running condition and put them where they’re going to be easy to get to. Having to fight huge snowdrifts in order to get to the removal equipment can’t be much fun.
One last thing – just for nice. With everything sealed up tight for the winter, the house can start feeling stuffy. There are a number of plants that help purify the air – my favourites being lemon thyme, orange mint and lavender. Besides making great air fresheners, every time you touch them you release their wonderful fragrance – that alone can bring comfort to a dull winter day.
I hope the winter readiness checklist will act as a guide for carrying out all those necessary tasks and provide you with a safe and warm winter.
Talk to you again next week,
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