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Your Guide to Winter Weather Preparedness

by The Linda Frierdich Group - Century 21 Advantage

 

Your Guide to Winter Weather Preparedness

 

Winter weather can strike quickly and fiercely, and it can create an array of issues for homeowners.  When a winter storm causes a power outage, however, things can turn costly and dangerous very quickly.  The most important thing one can do to keep safe during a winter storm and/or power outage is to be prepared.  Here are some things you can do to make sure that you will stay safe and warm.

 

 


Keep these things on hand… And if you don’t have any, get some!

 

Prescriptions and Common Medications

 

If any member of your home takes medication daily, you will want to be sure, first and foremost, that you will not run out of the medications, should inclement weather strike.  It’s also a good idea to keep common over-the-counter medications on hand, just in case you should need them while you are stuck at home.

 

Stock Up on Food

 

It’s important that you have enough food at home to last you at least three days, should a storm leave you stranded at home or cause a power outage.  If the power goes out, make sure that you have a sufficient supply of food that doesn’t need to be cooked before it is consumed. 

If you want to cook while your power is out, and you want to do so with a camping stove or other appliance outside of your kitchen, it is imperative that you take the camping stove outside to cook your meal. 

 

Stock Up on Water

 

To plan for how much water to have on hand in the case of a power outage, account for one gallon per person per day, not including cooking or hygiene purposes.

 

Back-Up Power

Should a storm knock out your power, you should have a back-up source of electricity, if it is financially feasible for you to do so.  If you use a generator, however, keep it outside, and NEVER bring it inside your house or garage.  If you are planning on using a generator, be sure that you have the proper length of outdoor extension cord to bring the power into your house. 

 

Flashlights, Batteries, & Candles

 

Make sure that you have a surplus of batteries, and that you have enough flashlights and battery-operated lamps to get you through.  Flashlights and battery-operated lamps are a lot safer than candles, so be sure that you have enough of them.  Also, gather them and store them in a handy place before the bad weather hits.  Should you run out of batteries, use candles as a last resort.  Exercise all safety precautions when burning candles.  Never leave them unattended, keep them away from anything flammable, keep them out of reach of pets and children, and never leave them burning overnight.

 

Keep a Weather Radio on Hand & Know the Terms

 

If you constantly are checking the weather on your cell phone during a power outage, you will quickly drain your power and have no way to restore it.  To monitor the weather without draining your cell phone battery, purchase a weather radio and check it occasionally for any updates to the forecast.  Here are the weather terms often used during a winter storm and what they mean, for those of you who might not know:

Winter Storm Outlook – Winter storm conditions are possible in the next 2 to 5 days.

Winter Weather Advisory – Winter weather conditions are expected to cause significant inconveniences and may be hazardous. When caution is used, these situations should not be life threatening.

Winter Storm Watch – Winter storm conditions are possible within the next 36 to 48 hours. People in a watch area should review their winter storm plans and stay informed about weather conditions.

Winter Storm Warning – Life-threatening, severe winter conditions have begun or will begin within 24 hours. People in a warning area should take precautions immediately.

 

Buy De-Icer and Salt Ahead of Time

 

Keep a stock of salt and de-icer spray on hand in case of icy or snowy conditions.  Even the slightest bit of ice can lead to injury, so it’s better to keep it on hand than to be caught without it.

 

Fire Extinguisher

 

Be sure that your home has a fire extinguisher on hand (that is not past its expiration date).  If the power outage should lead to a fire, for whatever reason, you will be happy that you have it.

 

Heat packs

 

Buy yourself a large pack of heat packs before the storm, in case you lose power and heat.  They can keep the blood flow going, keep you comfortable, and they’re great to stick in your socks or mittens!

 

 

Prepare!

 

Ease of Access

 

Before a storm hits, you should gather all the supplies you may need, as well as the ones you just purchased, and store them in an easily-accessible location.  This way, you won’t be fumbling around in the dark looking for flashlights and batteries before you take the precautions necessary in a winter power outage.

 

Make Sure Carbon Monoxide Detectors Are Working

 

The risk for carbon monoxide poisoning increases drastically in the bitter cold and during winter power outages.  NEVER turn to alternative forms of heating; their use often results in carbon monoxide poisoning or house fires.  If you are without power and your home is cold, contact your local emergency services to find a local community center that is offering warm lodging, rather than trying to heat your home in an unsafe way.

 

Fully Charge Your Electronics

 

Devices like your cell phone or tablets should be fully charged before a winter storm hits, so that if the power goes out, you are ahead of the game.  If at all possible, purchase a portable charger and be sure that it is fully charged, as well, so that you can extend the life of your cell phone’s charge.  Your cell phone can be a great tool to have in a winter storm, so that you can keep an eye on conditions, keep up on when power will be restored, and call for help should an emergency situation arise. 

 

Cozy Up!

 

Have a supply of warm blankets and sleeping bags set aside in case you lose heat to your home.  Having these handy, layer them, and stay under them for as long as possible to keep yourself warm.

Sleep together!  The more body heat under a blanket, the better!

Dress in layers to preserve your own body heat.

 

Garage Door

 

Find out how to manually open your garage door before the winter weather hits, especially if that is the primary way that you get in and out of your house.

 

Turn Off Electronics

 

As a precaution, you should turn off and unplug any electronics that do not need to be on before a winter storm hits.  This will help protect your devices in case the power surges.  If your power is already out, and your devices are still plugged in, unplug them.  It’s very common for the power to surge before it is restored fully and back to normal. 


Clean & Inspect Chimney

 

If your home has a chimney, clean and inspect it fully before a winter storm hits, especially if you plan on using it to help heat your home.  An improperly-kept chimney can lead to fire or carbon monoxide poisoning.

If you burn wood to either heat your home or burn in your fireplace, cover your wood pile well before a winter storm hits, so that it can remain dry but accessible.

 

 

Winter Weather/Power Outage Hacks

 

Trap the Heat

 

Even if you are using a generator to heat your home, shut the vents for rooms you don’t use, shut the doors, and lay a towel against the crack at the bottom.  This will help you conserve fuel by heating your house quicker, thus allowing you to turn off the generator faster. 

 

Avoid Frozen Pipes

 

Here is a list of ways to prevent your pipes from freezing in the winter.  Should you lose heat, turn your faucets on a slow drip.

 

Perishable Items

 

After 24 hours, the food in your refrigerator may be compromised.  After 48, the food in your freezer may be compromised.  However, given that this is a winter storm, you have some options to save that food.  Packing refrigerated and frozen foods in ice can help you keep them cooler, longer, so keep a cooler and a few bags of ice on hand.  Pack your food in the cooler with ice, and store the cooler outside.  If the temperatures are below freezing, your ice should last quite a long time.  If the temperatures rise above freezing, your ice will last a long time, as well, but it is a good idea that you occasionally check to see if it needs more, in that case.

 

Drink Coffee! …Or tea! …Or hot chocolate!

 

The important thing is that you occasionally drink a hot beverage.  Drinking a hot beverage raises your body’s core temperature, which helps keep your extremities, especially your fingers and toes, warm. 

 

Cardio to Fight the Chill

 

When you feel yourself becoming very chilled, try doing five minutes’ worth of jumping jacks or high knees.  This increased blood flow helps warm your body’s core temperature.  Be sure not to do so much that you sweat, thus dampening your clothes, as that will lead to you being even colder when your heart rate normalizes again.

 

Know When to Close the Curtains

 

Opening your curtains on a sunny day can bring natural heat into your home.  Even during the winter months, open your curtains when the sun is shining and shut them as it begins to go down, trapping the heat inside.

To really help trap that heat, consider hanging quilts or blankets over your curtain rods during a power outage.  This will help keep the heat in your home.

 

Park Facing East

 

Before a snow or ice storm hits, park your car with your windshield facing east, if at all possible.  This will allow the morning sun to hit your windshield, and it may make your car-clearing project a little easier after the snow or ice hits.

 

Gas Up Your Car

 

You always want to make sure that your car has a full tank of gas before a winter storm, for a number of reasons.  For instance, if you are driving, and you get stuck in a winter storm or in traffic, you will want enough gas to get you home and keep you warm through the ordeal.  Also, a full tank of gas adds some weight to your vehicle, which, in the case of a snow storm, can make your vehicle a lot easier to manage. 

You should also be carrying a winter weather emergency kit in your car.  For some guidance in regards to what is best to keep in these kits, click here.

 

 

As with all of the tips and lists that we post, this is not a completely comprehensive instruction manual, but rather a guide to give you an idea of what to do.  If you experience an emergency, do not hesitate to contact your local emergency services immediately.  Always exercise every safety precaution, and thoroughly read through any instruction manual that came along with any of your equipment.

Car Winter Safety Kit

by The Linda Frierdich Group - Century 21 Advantage

 

Car Winter Safety Kit 

 

As the winter season settles in, so does the deep cold weather.  The frigid chill that comes along with winter is more than just uncomfortable to endure; it can be deadly.  Every year, tragic stories of stranded motorists facing the challenges of frostbite and exposure to the cold, or sometimes, even death, because they found themselves stranded in a ditch or snow bank with no way out of their vehicle and no cold weather provisions with them. 

 

Maintaining a “Cold Weather Emergency Kit” in your vehicle is not only a good idea, it can be a life-saver.  Winter weather brings foul weather that can lead to slick roads, which can lead to your car finding its way into a ditch or embankment.  In the unfortunate event that this happens, you will be extremely thankful that you’re equipped with survival provisions.  Here is a list of some items that you should include in your car safety kit, should you decide to assemble one.

 


Water in small bottles

 


Water is essential for survival, and even in the dead of winter, no one would like to find themselves stranded with no water available.  To account for the colder temperatures, you should be storing water in small bottles, because the smaller the bottle, the quicker the water will thaw.

 

Spare cell phone charger

 


Most people carry spare cell phone chargers in their car normally, but during the winter, it is imperative that you don’t remove that charger from your car.  In the event that you do get stranded in your vehicle, a dead phone will give no assistance in alerting emergency crews that you are there.

 

Jumper cables or a portable battery charger

 


To ensure that you don’t have to endure the cold, no matter if you’re stranded in a ditch or stranded in a parking lot, it’s important that you prepare for a dead car battery by keeping a spare set of jumper cables in your car, or, better yet, a portable battery charger.  A portable battery charger eliminates the need to have another vehicle with a charged battery present for you to jump your car’s battery.

 

Energy-boosting snacks

 


Keep a handful of nutritious snacks in your car, such as energy or protein bars.  Should you find yourself in a scary winter predicament, you will be fighting hunger as well as exhaustion in the cold weather.  Prepare for that with non-perishable healthy snacks.

 

Tire pressure gauge and sealant

 


Changes in temperature lead to changes in pressure, whether that is in regards to the weather system moving across the country or the air in your vehicle’s tires.  Should you develop a flat, you will want to have a tire pressure gauge to fill your tire up to the proper pressure again.  Should you find yourself with a hole in your tire, you will want to be equipped with a sealant that will enable you to hold enough air in your tire until you can make it somewhere safe.

 

Tire jack and lug wrench

 


Everyone should know how to change a tire, because you never can tell what situation you will find yourself in.  Keep a tire jack and lug wrench in your vehicle, because if you should need to change your tire, you will need both of those tools.  Even if someone else pulls over to help you, they, still, will need those tools to do so.

 

Hand warmers

 


Hand warmers are cheap and sold in large packages.  It is an excellent idea to purchase a large package of these items to keep in your vehicle to help you maintain temperature and blood flow to your extremities, especially your fingers and toes, which become very vulnerable in extreme cold.

 

First-aid kit

 


In the event of a car accident, one would hardly think that a first-aid kit would suffice for caring for any injuries incurred.  However, if someone was injured in a car accident and was stranded from immediate help, they likely would be happy to have the first aid kit in comparison to no medical items. 

 

Tow strap

 


If you find your vehicle stuck in the snow or ice, you may call someone to help you, or you find that a nice citizen has stopped to help you.  Sometimes, to get a car out of the snow, all it takes is a little push.  However, sometimes, it can take a bit more.  Buy tow straps and keep them in your trunk, because that’s the only fool-proof way to be sure that you will be getting your vehicle un-stuck.

 

Head lamp or hand crank flashlight

 


A flashlight should be kept in your vehicle during all months of the year, because car accidents and/or malfunctions do not only happen during the daylight hours.  A hand-crank flashlight is a great vehicle accessory, due to the fact that it will never run out of power, as long as the operator can crank it.

 

Snow shovel and ice scraper

 


A snow shovel can be extremely helpful, should your vehicle become stuck in the snow.  An ice scraper is important to keep in your vehicle at all times, simply because winter weather can happen at any time.

 

Multi-tool

 


A multi-tool pocket knife is also extremely helpful to keep in your car.  Not only can it help you escape your seatbelt, should you not be able to unbuckle, it can also help you with virtually any need you may have in an emergency situation.

 

Warm blanket or sleeping bag

 


A heavy blanket should remain in your vehicle all winter long, but if you want to be especially prepared for a disaster, you should consider purchasing a cold weather sleeping bag.  A sleeping bag built for cold weather can help prevent frostbite and will be more waterproof than a blanket, making it a great survival tool.

 

Winter garb

 


Keep a winter coat, a warm hat, and gloves in your vehicle.  Sometimes we run out of the house iwhtout a coat on.  However, if you found yourself in a car in the bitter cold, with no heater, you would be longing for a winter coat in little time, at all.

 

Road flares/Hazard triangles

 


This may seem excessive, but when discussing the bitter cold weather, it is certainly better to be prepared than to find yourself in an unfortunate situation without the emergency tools needed.  A road flare can help you be seen, even when your vehicle isn’t easily spotted from the road.  Road hazard triangles can help alert other drivers that your vehicle is ahead, especially helpful on a curvy road.

 

 

While this list, like all of ours, is not comprehensive, it certainly is a great tool to begin compiling a winter safety kit for your vehicle.


Prepping Your Home for Cold Weather

by The Linda Frierdich Group - Century 21 Advantage

 

Prepping Your Home for Cold Weather

 

The weather is beginning to get colder, and as it does, the threat of winter weather looms ever closer.  Everyone knows that before a winter storm hits, they've got to go to the store and pick up milk, bread, and eggs to survive,  but there are more things you can be doing right now, before that imminent occurance is upon us.  The Fall is a great time to get your home ready to brave the cold weather, whether you're worried about making your life easier come Springtime cleanup, you'd like to keep your house warmer this Winter, or you are looking to avoid a home disaster following a Winter storm.  So, we present you with this list of things you can do now, before that cold snap sets in, to help you with whatever your concerns are for this coming Winter.

 


Clean the Gutters

 

When Winter hits, the Midwest tends to be hit with a mix of wet and frozen precipitation.  It's important to remember that even the frozen precipitation turns to liquid at some point, and as it does, the liquid will drain to your gutters, down the spout, and be deposited a distance from your home and in a manner that will drain away from your home.  That, at least, is true if you have your gutter system set up properly.  Now is the time of year to unclog your gutters to prevent water overflow.  Also double check to effectiveness of your gutter drainage system to ensure that the water is being dispensed away from your home (and that it won’t make its way back toward your home down a decline).

 

For proper drainage around your home, it is important to fill in any holes that have developed around your foundation to prevent melting snow and ice finding its way toward your home.

 

Seal Your Window & Door Frames

 

Unsealed window and door frames can lead to a striking amount of heat loss during the colder months of the year.  To ensure that your home isn’t losing significant heat during this Winter, check your home for air leaks, and seal the problem areas with caulk.  Adding weather stripping is a great choice for cutting back on air leaks, as well, and it’s cost efficient, at less than $5 a roll.

 

Protect Your Roof

 

Snow and ice accumulation on trees can become incredibly heavy.  To ensure that your trees won’t crash down on your home from the weight, trim your trees before Winter hits.  When doing so, you should be trimming any limbs that hang above your home, as well as any that are visibly dead. 

 

To help prevent any potential damage to your home or roof, inspect your roof and replace or repair any damage to the roof or shingles.

 

Service Your Furnace

 

When the cold weather arrives, HVAC service providers are extremely busy, and there is often a bit of a wait to have any services performed, should you encounter a problem with your furnace.  To avoid the hassle and stress, and to keep your furnace running as efficiently as possible, it’s a great idea to have your furnace serviced now.  This increases your chances of making it through the winter months without any major furnace issues.

 

For maximum efficiency, it is also the time of year to change your furnace’s air filter.  This keeps your system running properly, especially as the air dries out, increasing the amount of dust in the air in your home.

 

Seal Your Driveway

 

This task is one that is often not suggested, but it is a great tip for cold weather preparations.  The melting and freezing of snow and ice often leads to the breaking down of asphalt and concrete, causing holes and cracks in roadways, sidewalks, and driveways.  Applying a layer of sealant to your driveway in the Fall can significantly decrease your chances of encountering damage, because the sealant creates a protective layer that prohibits the water to penetrate the concrete or asphalt.  This project is fairly quick and easy, and the supplies are easily obtainable at any home improvement store.

 

Service Summer and Winter Equipment

 

To maintain optimum performance of your lawn equipment that is utilized in the Summer and Spring months, it’s important that you drain the gas and oil from your lawn equipment.  On Fall and Winter equipment like your leaf blower and snowblower, perform your tune-ups now in the Fall, and be sure to turn on the equipment before you need it to make sure that it starts easily and is in optimum working condition. 

 

Roll Up & Store Hoses

 

Before freezing weather hits, remember to unhook any hoses, drain them, and turn off water to your outdoor spigots.  Also, winterize your sprinkler system, if your home is equipped with one.  Freezing water lines can create a nightmare of problems, but these simple steps can help you avoid any in your home.

 

Have Chimney Cleaned & Inspected

 

Having a woodburning fireplace or furnace is wonderful in the Winter months, providing your home with cheap heating.  They can also be incredibly dangerous if not maintained properly.  It is important to have your chimney serviced every year to avoid excessive build-up of soot, which can consequentially cause a fire in your home.  If you aren’t sure how to properly perform the cleaning and inspection, contact a professional to have them do it for you.  You will still save money on heating this Winter by burning wood for heat, and you will avoid any tragedies.

 

On a side note, if your home is heated, in part or in full, by a wood burning fireplace or furnace, be sure that the wood you are storing outdoors is at least fifteen feet from your home in order to prevent a termite infestation.

 

Drain Hot Water Heater

 

Sediment can build up and clog the pipes of your water heater, and draining your system to get rid of some of that build-up can increase your water heater’s energy efficiency by up to fifty percent!  It’s beneficial by increasing the lifespan of your equipment, and it saves you money on your energy bill… A true win-win!

 

Care for Your Lawn

 

As soon as the weather turns frigid, we all start longing for the warmth, sunshine, and life that Spring will bring.  To make your Spring cleaning a little easier this year, consider prepping your lawn for the warmer months now, before it turns cold.  You can aerate, fertilize, and seed your lawn now, and it can actually very beneficial to do so.  The precipitation that comes in Winter will help the nutrients penetrate your soil effectively, meaning that your lawn will be richer and fuller in the Spring.  Also consider mowing your leaves instead of raking and burning them, turning them to a mulch that will break down and become a natural fertilizer compost that costs you nothing! 

 

If your home is equipped with a wood burning fireplace or furnace, consider this tip as well: Saving the ashes from this Winter.  If you have a vegetable garden, till it this Fall, spread the ashes over it as Winter continues, enabling the precipitation to soak the nitrogen into your soil.  You will be amazed at the richness added to your soil!  If you don’t have a vegetable garden, consider spreading the ashes in your flowerbeds for a wonderful fertilizer that will help you have more blooms!

 

Reverse Your Ceiling Fans

 

Reversing your ceiling fans in the Fall can help with heating costs in the Winter.  Rather than blowing air downward, the fans will keep the air in your home moving, which is a big help to the comfort level in your home, considering that heat rises.

 

 

Real Estate Forecast

by The Linda Frierdich Real Estate Group
in the format of a weather forecast:
 
The unseasonbly high pressure system extending over the metro east that has been pushing the buyers and sellers away is finally moving east.
 
It looks like we are in for a lengthy low pressure system characterized by a low mortgage rate index that has already begun bringing the buyers in.  This extremely active weather system will be very stormy due to media misinformation but should be very productive in terms of precipitation (I.E. Sold Homes.) The forecast is good with a warm-up right around the corner!  Sellers, keep your homes ready to show and buyers, get those pre-approval letters, things are heating up!

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Contact Information

Photo of The Linda Frierdich Real Estate Group Real Estate
The Linda Frierdich Real Estate Group
Century 21 Advantage
103 S Main St
Columbia IL 62236
IL: 618.281.7621

138 Concord Plaza Dr
Saint Louis MO 63128
MO: 314.649.0221
Fax: 618.281.4311

Linda Frierdich is the area's premier real estate professional, offering services in St Louis, Kirkwood, Webster Groves, Crestwood, Ballwin, Arnold, Fenton, Oakville, Columbia, Waterloo, Millstadt, Valmeyer, Dupo, Belleville, O'Fallon, Mascoutah, Fairview Heights, Smithton, Ruma, Hecker, New Athens, Edwardsville, Collinsville, Caseyville, Shiloh, Swansea, Monroe County, Madison County, St Clair County, and Randolph County.  Her team focuses on resale homes, new construction, first time home buyers, condos, farms, land sales, subdivisions, lot sales, single family, multi-family, commercial, foreclosures, bank owned property, military relocation, and building. This site offers options to search real estate in Columbia Illinois and other areas. We offer buyer and sellers services second to none!

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