Winter

Well, it happened. Kansas City, Mo., has experienced its first sleet. Fall is quickly turning into winter! The change of season excites me because I adore snow. And it frustrates me because, frankly, my windows leak and come December, my skin will inevitably become a red, dry, mess.

Late fall is the perfect time to start to winterize your home – and body – and get prepared for all the chills, soggy socks and icy, front porch steps that will inevitably come.

Winterize your home or apartment

The following tips, presented by FEMA, are great for homeowners:

  • “Winterize your home to 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. Winterize your house, barn, shed or any other structure that may provide shelter for your family, neighbors, livestock or equipment. Clear rain gutters; repair roof leaks and cut away tree branches that could fall on a house or other structure during a storm.
  • Maintain heating equipment and chimneys by having them cleaned and inspected 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).
  • Insulate your home by installing storm windows or covering windows with plastic from the inside to keep cold air out.
  • 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.”

*Apartment renters can add weather-stripping to doors, and can cover windows with plastic. It’s important to keep heat on, and allow faucets to drip to avoid bursting a pipe in your apartment, too. Make certain apartment maintenance crews have changed your heater’s filter and have recently checked the apartment’s chimney.

If you live in a region that experiences very cold temperatures, you should prepare a winter emergency kit. The following items typically sell out before a storm hits:

  • Melt ice on walkways with salt, urea, alfalfa meal, or sugar beet juice.
  • Use sand to improve traction.
  • Snow shovels, ice scrappers, wood, extra blankets, and batteries.
  • If you travel a lot by car, make certain you always have enough gas in the tank, a way to call for help, and extra clothing and blankets if you get stranded.
  • Also, make certain you don’t leave your pets out when it’s extremely cold. Make certain pets have access to clean, unfrozen water, too.

Winter garden care

Goodbye, summer garden. Hello, winter. Consider the following tips to keep your garden from turning into a complete disaster zone this winter:

  • Clear blackened stems and old foliage from the ground to prevent disease pathogens, and remove any insect eggs.
  • Pull weeds and invasive plants by the root and cover pulled pests with a plastic tarp.
  • Place compost throughout the garden.
  • Start to plan what you want to grow next year!

For other winter garden care tips, consult Better Homes and Gardensarticle, “Preparing Your Garden for Winter.”

Get your body ready for winter

Winter brings colds, flus and icky stomach bugs. Take a common sense approach and wash your hands regularly. Also, consider growing an herb garden. Many herbs can help boost your immune system.

Some other tips to keep your body in top shape this winter:

Stay moving (no matter how much you don’t want to) and avoid gaining weight.

Keep hair and skin supple with homemade products.

Resources:

http://www.farmersalmanac.com/home-garden/2010/02/15/how-to-melt-ice-naturally/

http://www.care2.com/greenliving/window-weatherize-save-energy.html

Image: Greg Walters