By Hannah Anderson
Humans once prepared for winter by hunting, harvesting, and preserving throughout the other three seasons. With technological advances and years of evolution, now our winter prep is considerably more mundane. Even if you feel that you’ve mastered the art of thriving during winter, there are still a few more things you can do to ensure a safe, secure, and ultimately happier winter.
So you’ve filled up your oil or natural gas to keep the heat coming.
But have you made a power and fuel emergency contact list?
Topping off your tank in late autumn is always a good idea to make sure you don’t run into unexpected shortages during times when the fuel or oil companies can’t make refilling runs. Another solid idea, however, is to make a physical list to use in an emergency. This list should be printed out or hand-written, so you can still access it if the power were to go out.
In the list, you should include the phone numbers for your power company and your fuel/oil provider, your account numbers and passwords or pins associated with the account, and the companies’ websites. This information can be vitally important should an emergency or natural disaster occur, so make sure the list is in an easy-to-access place and that everyone in the home knows where to find it.
So you’ve flushed out your water hoses and sprinklers.
But have you locked up your birdseed in a sealed container?
Outdoor living may not be ideal in most areas in the winter, so making sure your water houses and sprinkler systems are dry before the first big frost is important in maintaining the overall health of your outdoor equipment. If you have a deck or a pool, you’ve likely already winterized it. One outdoor aspect you may not have considered, however, is birdseed.
While keeping birdfeeders throughout the year may be possible in some climates, it’s still important to keep the birdseed not in feeders in an airtight, sealable container. The best container would have clasps or clip enclosures to make it more difficult for curious animals to open. A good tote from a home improvement store would be a great solution. Keeping your birdseed inaccessible will help to reduce any visits from unwanted guests such as raccoons, opossums, and squirrels (or even bears!). An airtight, sealed container also keeps birdseed lasting longer.
So you’ve checked your heating unit and replaced your air filters.
But have you adjusted the humidity in your house?
Whether you have a central heating system, or use other sources like radiators and space heaters, you’ve likely already made sure your equipment is functioning well and that any air filters you may use have been changed. Winter means staying inside more, which means more chances for exposure to allergens, so cleaning or replacing the air filters in your heating system is important for staying well through the cold months. But have you considered how the heat itself will affect your health?
Most heating sources produce dry heat, which is great for warmth but not so good for your sinuses. Warm, dry air can affect your sinuses by drying out your natural mucus. This increases your risk of head colds, the flu, and generally makes for uncomfortable sinuses. If you use a radiator or if your central heating doesn’t come with one built-in, buy a humidifier to keep the air in your house a little moist as well as warm. Added bonus: running a humidifier in your home can help prevent dry, cracked winter skin!
So you’ve purchased a snowblower or good quality shovel.
But have you staked out the boundaries of your yard and its fixtures?
Anyone who lives in areas that receive moderate to heavy amounts of snow all winter long already has the equipment to deal with the snow. No matter your yard size or budget, there are tons of options available to help shovel or blow your driveway and your yard clear. But once the snow falls, will you be able to remember where everything is?
Inexpensive wooden stakes, usually used in gardening, can help. If the forecast calls for heavy snowfall, plant stakes the day before to outline your driveway and other key features of your yard, such as your mailbox. Additionally, if you live along streets that are often plowed by the city, stake out the edges of your yard with wooden stakes to help delineate your grass from the street. This can help save your yard from being torn apart by the plow.
So you’ve gotten everything ready to hunker down and wait out the winter.
But have you talked to your neighbors?
You’ve done everything you can think of, plus the tips above and things you may have found on your own. You’re officially ready to seclude yourself in your winter-fortress now, right? Actually, you may want to hold off on the seclusion and try chatting up your neighbors.
It may sound a little odd, but neighbors are an excellent resource for tips and recommendations, especially if they’ve lived in the neighborhood for a while. They’ll know how likely the power is to be knocked out during storms, and they’ll know who cleans gutters the best and the cheapest. So this winter, crawl out of your blanket cocoon and speak to your neighbors occasionally. You might make a friend while you’re at it!
Hannah is a recent college graduate, freelance writer, and a lifetime reader living in North Carolina with her dachshund, Zoey. She hopes to continue pursuing her passion for writing while attending graduate school.
Images used with permission, courtesy of www.bigstock.com and www.dreamstime.com