At heart I’m a good ole country girl. I lived on a big farm growing up and was very familiar with the numerous tasks involved during the winter months. Later in adulthood I moved to Long Beach CA and the thought of freezing pipes and well pumps faded from my memory. Now that I’m back home in the mountains I sometimes laugh at the questions my warm weather friends and clients ask. However, I understand the uncertainty that the winters months can bring. There are some common sense practices that you can do at the beginning of the winter. So with this in mind I offer these suggestions.
ONCE THE NIGHT TEMPERATURES ARE IN THE 30S OR BELOW CLOSE YOUR CRAWLSPACE VENTS.
ONCE THE NIGHT TEMPERATURES ARE IN THE 30S OR BELOW EMPTY YOUR RAIN BARRELS AND WATER HOSES THEN STORE IN A DRY AREA.
COLLECT YOUR FLASHLIGHTS AND BATTERIES AND STORE THEM IN AN EASY TO FIND LOCATION.
HAVE AN ALTERNATE HEAT AND COOKING SOURCE OTHER THAN ELECTRIC. If you have a fire place or wood stove or corn pellet stove, be sure you have a good wood or corn supply located close to the house. If you have a kerosene or propane heater, make sure your fuel source will last at least 72 hours. It is a good idea to have a second propane tank for your gas grill.
WELL WATER REQUIRES AN ELECTRIC PUMP TO GET THE WATER TO YOUR HOUSE. IF THE ELECTRICITY IS OFF THEN THE WATER WILL BE TOO.
If you see the lights start to flicker during a storm it is a good idea to fill up some jugs of water. Also have several buckets of water to flush the toilets. You can pour the bucket directly into the bowl, or pour it into the back tank and then flush. You can also fill up buckets with snow and set them into the tub and let it melt and use later for flushing the toilets.
BE PREPARED BEFORE YOU GO OFF TO WORK! Every now and then we will have a snow event and depending on the location there can be a great difference in the snow amount and the road conditions. So what is at your house may not be the same as what is on the road or driveway or parking lot somewhere else. Many times the snow is light and melt by mid day and our main roads are usually driving condition. However, secondary roads and especially driveways may not be clear for several days. So if you live up a big old windy road, think about parking your vehicle at the bottom and walking up. When the police advise don’t get out unless you absolutely have too, please listen. Remember there are always people on the road who has never driven in snow and while you may be a great snow driver you don’t know what is going to happening down the road. If it is an ice storm, stay put. I don’t care who you are, no one does a good job of driving on ice. Be sure to have water, food, flashlight, boots and extra coat or blanket in the vehicle. Also the winter is a good time to practice keeping the gas tank full. Sometimes the road can be blocked for hours and it gets cold if you run out of gas.
DON’T LET YOUR PIPES FREEZE. OK first thing if your neighbor or cousin Ed told you to put a heater in the crawl space DON’T!!!!! Now for the logical recommendations, when the night temperatures are staying below freezing it is a good idea to let all faucets drip slightly. Hopefully your water pipes already have insulation around them if not you will need to make sure that is done. If you are leaving town for a few days then go ahead and leave the water dripping and keep the temperature around 50. If you are gone for the entire winter it is best to “winterize” the property which includes drain water heater, water line and toilet lines.
PETS Hopefully, you already know that pets are supposed to live indoors and I don’t have to ask you to bring them inside if the weather is freezing. What you may not think about is that the snow may be bigger than your dog so having a shovel close by to clear off an area that allows them to sniff and poop will be helpful. If you have a dog like our Tyler then he/she will need a coat because the underbelly is more skin than fur. Also, if your bigger dogs like to romp through your yard it is a good idea to use snow booties to prevent cuts from garden decorations and fencing they might not see in the snow.
WHEN THE WEATHERMAN SAYS IT IS GOING TO SNOW!! Go to a local Ingles and enjoy watching people buy milk and bread. Personally I recommend buying chocolate lots of chocolate.