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 winter months can bring.
There are some common sense practices that you can do at the beginning of the winter. So with that in mind, I offer these suggestions:
- ONCE NIGHT-TIME TEMPERATURES ARE IN THE 30S OR BELOW, CLOSE YOUR CRAWLSPACE VENTS.
- ONCE NIGHT-TIME 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 fireplace, 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, THE WATER WILL BE TOO. If you see the lights start to flicker during a storm, it is a good idea to fill up jugs of water. Also, have several buckets of water to flush toilets. You can pour the bucket directly into the bowl, or pour it into the back tank and then flush. You can also fill buckets with snow, set them into your tub to melt, then use later for flushing 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 road conditions. What is at your house may not be the same as what is on the road, driveway, or parking lot elsewhere. Many times the snow is light and melts by mid-day and our main roads are usually in good driving condition. However, secondary roads and especially driveways may not be clear for several days. If you live up a big, winding road, think about parking your vehicle at the bottom and walking up. When the police advise not to get out unless you absolutely have too, please listen. Remember, there are always people on the road who have never driven in snow. 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 coats or blankets in the vehicle. The winter is also 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 - if the night-time temperatures will go 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, 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 draining the 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 level may be higher than your dog, so keep a shovel close by to clear off an area that will allow them to do their "business". 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 grocery store and enjoy watching people buy milk and bread. Personally, I recommend buying chocolate - lots of chocolate!