Winters in Northern Virginia are not typically harsh, although we have been known to get a good storm once in awhile. The good news is that extremely frigid temperatures and snow storms are typically short-lived, the mild weather returns relatively quickly.
However, it’s a good idea to do a little preparation in advance, now that winter is solidly upon us. If your family and your home are prepared, you are less likely to suffer catastrophic (and expensive) damage to your home or, worse, your health.
Prepare Your home for Winter
This is best done in the Fall, before the Winter season sets in. But in case you were unable to do this sooner, there is no better time than the present. Take advantage of warmer weekend to take care of the following:
- Clear your gutters of debris. I can’t stress this enough. If your gutters are full, then they can’t drain water away from your home. During an ice storm, an ice dam can form on your roof. As the ice melts (due to rising heat from your home or from sunlight), the water has no where to go and is forced up under your shingles. Water can do serious damage to your roof, your ceilings, and the interior of your home.
- Get your furnace serviced. The last think you want is for your primary source of heat to fail you on the coldest day of the year. A quick check-up is easy and not terribly expensive, and you may be able to find and fix potential problems before they become serious.
- Check doors and windows for leaks. If you find leaks, you may need to install some weather stripping, add a bead of caulk, or cover your windows with plastic to keep out drafts. This is best done in warmer weather, and many adhesives and caulking products require temperatures to be above a certain level.
- Make sure your smoke and carbon monoxide detectors work. Many firs and accidental CO2 poisonings happen in the winter months. You should replace the batteries and test your system every six months.
- Cut tree limbs that overhang your house or powerlines. Most people don’t realize how much ice weighs. It may look pretty, but ice that accumulates on tree branches can break even healthy, thick, mature, branches. If a falling limb takes out your power lines, you will be without power, during a snowstorm. No heat, no hot water, no electricity. And it could take hours or days for the power to be restored, depending on how many other people have the same problem. If that tree limb falls on your roof, it an damage the shingles, decking, and or framing, allowing moisture to enter your home and damage your belongings.
Keep a Disaster Kit Handy
You may think that your pantry is adequately stocked, but consider what you could eat if you didn’t have a way to cook it? Canned meats like chicken and tuna, canned beans, and canned vegetables could sustain you for a few days in a pinch. Make sure you have bottled water and any medicines you need.
It’s also a good idea to keep a disaster kit in your car. If you run off the road and get stuck in the snow, you may have to wait a few hours on a tow truck. Have blankets, emergency light or flares, bottled water, and protein bars, and medicines in your car for emergencies.
Only Use Approved Heating Equipment
If you lose power, you may lose your furnace – even gas furnaces often have electric components. It can be tempting to find other sources of heat, such as a stove, grill, or firepit. Unfortunately, these can cause fires in your home, and can also cause carbon monoxide poisoning (another reason to make sure your CO2 detectors work). If you lose your heat, dress in layers, pile on the blankets, and confine the family to one room in order to preserve as much body heat as possible.
If you are lucky enough to have a fireplace in your home, make sure it is serviced and in working order, and stock up on firewood.
Have an Emergency Plan
It may seem like overkill, considering all the other preparations, but have a plan in place can really save you in a pinch. Review it periodically, so you know exactly what steps you will take to stay in touch with family and neighbors, and to respond to emergencies. Keep all emergency numbers and contact information handy. We all hope that an emergency won’t ever happen, but you’ll react more quickly and confidently if you have a plan.
We are always here to help with all your Northern Virginia real estate needs! If you are unsure of your home’s value or if you are thinking about buying or selling in 2021, contact Jason at 703-298-7037 or Jason@JasonAndBonnie.com.