How to Protect Your Home From Severe Cold

Besides your wubby, do you have what it takes to defend against winter’s chill?

Image: Javier Brosch/Shutterstock

Snow and cold sure are a whole lot more tolerable when you’re anticipating a snow day (no need to go the office!) instead of suiting up to catch the bus. The freezing temps seem to seep right into the marrow of your bones. That happens to your home, too. And like you, if you don’t protect it from the elements, the results would be, well, let’s just say, not good.

Here’s how to keep your home safe and your bones warm.

How to Prepare for Blizzards

The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) says to be sure you have these things:

  • Snow shovels – more than one because they can break, and four hands are better than two if you have them
  • Deicers, preferably the pet-safe type
  • Extra fuel such as firewood, a full propane tank, or a generator.
  • Clean blankets, pillows, warm clothing, etc. because you might not be able to do laundry for awhile
  • Food and water that doesn’t require refrigeration
  • Transistor radio with new batteries — and backup batteries

When it comes to deicers, some of the more environmentally-safe types include calcium magnesium acetate and sand to improve traction. Be sure to stock up early in the season, as they become scarce before a well-publicized storm.

Related: What Should Be in an Emergency Survival Kit?

How to Winterize Your Home

  • Check roof tiles, shutters, siding, and other exterior materials to ensure they’re secure
  • Seal air leaks around the home to keep it warmer (and save energy costs)
  • Insulate all exposed plumbing pipes to prevent burst pipes
  • Trim tree branches away from your roof to prevent roof damage

High winds, ice, and moisture from winter storms can easily strip off roof tiles and gutters, exposing your home to serious damage, says home improvement expert and writer John Wilder of Jacksonville, Fla. Make sure no roof tiles are loose or missing. Do the same with your gutters and siding.  

And clean your gutters. If you don’t, you risk an ice dam.

What’s an ice dam? Ice dams occur when ice melts off the roof during the day and then re-freezes as it drips into a clogged gutter. This can force water back under the roofline and cause serious leaks, often thousands of dollars (!) in damage.

While you’re insulating your pipes, remind yourself where all water shut-off valves are so you can turn off the water supply in case of any leaks.

Overgrown tree branches are a risk to your home, vehicles, and loved ones. But trimming and removal can be dangerous, too, so don’t attempt it on your own. Best to hire a pro.

Now you’re ready for a snow day!

Related: Tips to Prevent Your Pipes From Exploding This Winter

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