This winter will be my first “REAL” winter. If you have always lived in an area where you have snow and you manage to have temperatures that fall below freezing, then you probably have been winterizing your house since you were a child. I have not, so I figured that there may be a few people in my same situation. Whether you are new to an area that has colder temperatures than you are used to, or you are in your first home and you are just now learning how to keep your house safe during the winter, I am going to give you a list of things that you need to do before your cold winter comes.
Prepping your house for the winter can be time consuming and a little costly. If you don’t winterize during the fall then you will probably be spending more money during the winter to fix broken pipes and other items that manage to break during the colder temperatures. Below is a list of things you need to look at when trying to get your house ready for the winter.
- Extend the life of your fuel supply by insulating walls and attics, caulking and weather-stripping doors and windows, and installing storm windows or covering windows with plastic.
- Outdoor structures, such as the barn, shed or any other structure that may provide shelter for your family, neighbors, livestock or equipment may also need winterizing. Clear rain gutters; repair roof leaks and cut away tree branches that could fall on a house or other structure during a storm.
- Clean and inspect chimneys and other heating equipment every year.
- Insulate pipes with insulation or newspapers and plastic and allow faucets to drip a little during cold weather to avoid freezing. Running water, even at a trickle, helps prevent pipes from freezing.
- All fuel-burning equipment should be vented to the outside and kept clear.
- Keep fire extinguishers on hand, and make sure everyone in your house knows how to use them. House fires pose an additional risk, as more people turn to alternate heating sources without taking the necessary safety precautions.
- Learn how to shut off water valves (in case a pipe bursts).
- Hire a contractor to check the structural ability of the roof to sustain unusually heavy weight from the accumulation of snow – or water, if drains on flat roofs do not work.
- Rock salt or more environmentally safe products to melt ice on walkways.
- Sand to improve traction.
- Snow shovels and other snow removal equipment.
- Sufficient heating fuel. You may become isolated in your home and regular fuel sources may be cut off. Store a good supply of dry, seasoned wood for your fireplace or wood-burning stove.
- Minimize travel. If travel is necessary, keep a disaster supplies kit in your vehicle and have winter related items included.
For indoor preparations:
- Make a family-based emergency plan.
- Have a short term emergency supply and ensure that you have an ample supple water and shelf stable foods.
- Adequate clothing and blankets to keep you warm in an off grid environment.
- Make a Family Communications Plan. Your family may not be together when disaster strikes, so it is important to know how you will contact one another, how you will get back together and what you will do in case of an emergency.
- Have a battery powered radio on hand to listen to changing weather conditions.
- Know how to stay warm in an off grid situation.
- Bring pets/companion animals inside during winter weather. Move other animals or livestock to sheltered areas with non-frozen drinking water.
Extreme cold can be dangerous to both you and your house. Make sure that this fall you prepare you and your house for extreme temperatures. If you have any questions please call your local County Extension Agent for help.
Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service – Ochiltree County
County Extension Agent – Family and Consumer Science