Yeah, I know, just a couple weeks ago I was telling you fall was coming, but the amazing thing about time is that it doesn’t stop for you. We were preparing for fall, now it’s time to start preparing for winter. The Farmer’s Almanac is predicting cold and snow as early as this week that is probably going to melt during a brief warm period afterward. They’re also predicting heavy snow this year. Meteorologists are predicting more of an average winter, but that’s still going to give us some snowfall and cold temperatures. Whichever happens this winter, it’s a good idea to get prepared before it actually hits.
Hope For the Best, Prepare For the Worst
A good policy for preparing for things is to prepare as if the worst was going to happen. It probably won’t, but you should be ready for it just in case. So, with that in mind, what should you do to prepare this fall?
1. Lawn Prep
First thing, if you haven’t already done so, now is the time to schedule a blow-out for your sprinklers. You don’t want water in your pipes when the cold really hits and it’s best to plan ahead. You don’t want to put it off to the last minute only to find that nobody has time to spare for you, or have the snow fall while you’re dallying. Going along with that, before the cold hits, you’ll want to shut off exterior faucets to keep them from freezing over.
For the lawn itself, you’ll want to aerate and apply a winter fertilizer to promote deep root growth for spring. Then you’ll want to make sure the leaves are cleaned up, since leaves on the lawn create warm spots that are a haven for pests and fungus that can ruin your grass. Trim back any stray, overgrown branches that get near your house or power lines to prevent them from causing damage during storms. The last thing you want is for a stray branch to knock out a power line during a snowstorm. Finally, make sure your rain gutters are cleared and that excess moisture from precipitation will drain away from your house.
2. Winterize Your Car
You’ll want to make sure your car is in good condition to get you through the winter. Winterizing your vehicle includes checking the fluids to make sure they won’t freeze, fixing cracks in your windshield so the freezing moisture doesn’t make them worse, checking tires to keep pressure up and getting winter tires if necessary, and plenty more. There’s quite a few things you need to get done, so make sure you get on that soon. If you can’t do it yourself, check with a mechanic. Just don’t put it off.
3. Heating, Ventilation, Air Conditioning
When was the last time you cleaned out your air ducts and changed your filter? The Cache Valley inversion will likely bring more really bad air days this year and you want to make sure your ventilation system is good and clean so you have fresh air when you have to stay indoors. In addition to this, you’ll want to check your fireplace and HVAC heating system. As Alpine Cleaning and Restoration pointed out in one of their own articles, chimneys can build up a substance called creosote. If allowed to build up, it becomes a serious fire hazard. If needed, have a professional chimney cleaner take care of it before you have to light any fires. Don’t forget to check your smoke alarm batteries in case of a fire.
With that taken care of, check your house for cracks or leaks in the insulation. Remove air conditioners from windows (if you have them) and seal the windows. Use sealant to plug any leaks in ducts in your attic or basement, and crawl spaces.
4. Put Away Tools and Machinery
You’ll have a lot of tools that you’ve been using over the summer and fall. Lawn mowers, shovels, rakes, and more. Your kids will have left toys out – they always do, despite your best efforts. You’ll want to check your yard over and find everything to put it away before the snow comes. Additionally, you want to make space in your garage for your car, if you have a garage. Parking your car in the garage can eliminate a lot of the usual problems you’ll face with your car over the winter.
5. Prepare and Emergency Kit
Hopefully, winter won’t be too bad, but if it is, you want to be ready for a power outage. The fall windstorm of just a month ago indicates just how much damage a single big storm can do, leaving parts of Cache Valley without power for as much as three days. If that happens during the winter, when it’s really cold, you’ll want to be ready for it.
Your emergency kit should have bottled water, shelf-stable food, flashlights and batteries, and some emergency medical supplies. Have blankets on hand in case a long power outage leaves you unable to heat your home. Hopefully, you won’t need to use any of this, but if you do, you’ll be glad you had it. Get it ready now so you have it in case you need it.
6. Keep Updated
Thanks to modern technology, nobody ever has to be disconnected. The local and federal government will be issuing necessary updates on weather events as they occur. Find out what new channels, radio stations, or websites your area makes announcements through. Check up on them regularly to find out what’s going on and what you need to know.
Winter Preparedness Is Key
If the Almanac is right, we might be in for a wild winter this year. I’m hoping for the average winter predicted by meteorologists, myself, but we’ve got a pattern to go on. The last few winters have seen a brief cold snap early on in late fall, followed by a brief warm period for a week or two, then dropping to back to cold. We usually get at least one big snowstorm, usually in late December or early January. That’s been my personal observation, so take it with a grain of salt. Weather is one of those highly unpredictable aspects of the world. More than a week or two out and the accuracy of any prediction becomes questionable, even those made by the experts (as they themselves will tell you).
Whatever we get, though, you’ll want to be ready for it. Prepare for it now and you’ll not have to worry if worse comes to worse.