As much as I hate to say it, we are still in the midst of winter. This could mean cold temperatures, cold wind, snow, freezing rain, or sleet. We have had a relatively mild winter, to this point, but I remember snow in Aprils past. Being ready could mean different things. I am ready for spring, but we need to be reminded that it is still winter.
Very cold temperatures for extended periods of time could cause frozen pipes or extreme taxing of your home’s primary heating system. Frozen pipes will usually bust, showing the problem once thawing occurs. Do you know how to isolate parts of your water system, or do you know how to cut the main water off? We moved our main water shut-off into our utility room. For most people, the main water shut-off is just inside the crawl space door. Concerning your home heating system, you want to change the system’s filters regularly. The more that you do to keep the system running smoothly, the better the chance that it will carry you through a cold snap. If you have a secondary heating system, have you checked it for proper operation? If it runs on a particular fuel, have you topped off the fuel source?
When and if snow comes, we will want to ensure that our vehicles are in good shape and able to traverse snowy roads. Until roads are adequately cleared by the highway department, we should limit our travel to only when absolutely necessary. It is important to carry blankets, snacks and water in the event that you become stranded for any amount of time. You may need to change regular routes to avoid icy or snowy hills or curves that become treacherous in bad weather.
If we lose power, what will you do? How will you heat your home? How will you prepare food? If you have a generator, when was the last time that you test ran your generator? I have always been told, “A failure to plan is a plan to fail.” We must have a practiced plan in the event that the power goes out. Empty gas cans and gas tanks may be a big problem when gas stations may not have power, either. If you have to go to generator power, you must ensure that your generator runs in a well ventilated area. Generators that run on gas, diesel, and propane are all capable of putting off carbon monoxide, designated CO. CO is a colorless, odorless and deadly gas. Our bodies have a 200 times greater affinity for CO than for oxygen. The signs and symptoms of CO poisoning are nausea, vomiting, red skin, unconsciousness, and general illness, all leading to death. CO can reach harmful levels cumulatively or acutely. CO is neither heavier or lighter than air, therefore, it just fills a space. CO detectors are indicated when fuels are burned. CO is a byproduct of incomplete combustion.
Whatever preparation for a weather event looks like, you must be prepared. There is an uptick in residential fires during the winter months. Since this is true, we need to be prepared for what may come. A proper number of properly installed and properly operating smoke alarms, accompanied by a practiced home escape plan, will help to ensure that you and your family are ready, if a fire occurs in your home. Preparation may just be a thought or may require action. Whatever the case, do not let your guard down!