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Sunday, August 29, 2010

Preparing For Another Cold Winter

You've probably heard the term "colder than molasses in January" if you live in the Midwestern states or Eastern states of this country. Last winter, it seems that we had an unusually cold winter with lots of wind and blowing snow and ice. This wasn't really typical weather for the middle of Oklahoma for sure. In years past we seemed to get snow that might stay on the ground for a couple of days, the sun would come out, things would warm up and it would be gone. Not this past couple of winters.

Not only did the ice and snow stick around, but there were many areas of the state who were without power for many days because of downed power lines. I had friends up in Tulsa who were without power for 11 days. Luckily they had a fireplace where they could improvise cooking and for some heat.  They were eventually able to borrow a generator but others were not so lucky.

I was one of the fortunate ones, never lost power, but did feel trapped inside my home and felt like I couldn't get the house warm enough as the winds blew and the snow continued to fall. I have vowed that I am going to be better prepared this year.

I will be stocking up my pantry with canned goods and sterno heat that I can use to heat things up with if I lose power. I don't have a fireplace so having a way to heat food will be necessary if I lose power. If you don't already have a fully stocked pantry, now would be a good time to start buying some extra items each month, along with some bottled water, so that you at least have a month or two worth of goods on hand just in case you are housebound that long.

While you are at it, grab some batteries for flashlights, extra candles and oil for some oil wick lamps to provide lighting. If push comes to shove, you could always use your solar powered yard lights by bringing them inside at night to light your house.

I also plan to have de-icer on hand as well as plenty of extra cat litter to sprinkle on the sidewalk and driveway. Trying to shovel wet heavy snow and break through solid sheets of ice is not easy when you get up in age.

Before the cold weather arrives, take time to check your doors and windows and make sure that the weather stripping is good as well as check to see if they might need to be recalked.

Have your furnace inspected to make sure it is in proper working order. Grab enough filters to last you several months because you will want to change them out at least once a month during the cold winter months. With you house closed up, you are going to find that dust and dirt will accumulate on them much faster than they did during the summer.

The other thing I plan to do is make some extra heavy curtains for my windows. Back in the olden days, Grandma used to take a bed quilt and drape it up over the curtain rod as an added layer to keep the cold out and the heat in. I am going to basically use this idea but modify it.  I am going to either make my own quilted material to use or see if I can find some second hand quilts at one of the thrift stores. I am going to cut them to the size of my window opening, make a placket at the top and bottom to run pressure rods through. Then I will put them up so that they fit snuggly inside the window frame opening, and they will have the rods at the top and bottom of the window frame. With the extra quilt batting between the material, this should help with insulating for warmth.

Once again this year, I will close off rooms that I don't use, either by closing doors or using drapes. If there is space under the bottom of the door which will allow drafts, I am going to make "draft dodgers" this year. Using a piece of material, the length of the door about 10-12 inches wide, sew it into a cylinder and close off one end.  Take rice and put it inside a plastic bag and work it down into the cylinder. Sew the other end of the cylinder up. You could also make these for window sills if you didn't get new weatherstripping installed.

Chances are we are all going to be looking for ways to keep our utility bills down this winter as the cost of heating is expected to be on the rise. You can dress in layers, open up the curtains during the day to let the sunlight in to warm the house and close them as the sun goes down.

By preparing now you can avoid having to run around gathering things together when the first weather reports come out that a storm is on the way. It never fails, the weatherman can be predicting that snow or ice storms are headed our way but everyone seems to wait till the day before or even up to just a few hours before it is expected to arrive to go get their supplies in. Nothing is more frustrating that to go to a store and find out there is nothing on the shelves that you need. So plan ahead this year especially because it is my guess that stores won't be as well stocked as they have been in the past.

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