As the temperatures begin to cool down and the leaves begin their color transformation, we embark on fall, one of our most beautiful seasons. Fall is not only the gateway to the holidays, it is nature’s preparation time for winter, which can be a brutal season for some people, animals and plant life. Some would love to join the bears, certain types of squirrels and snakes and hibernate with them, sleep right on through winter, while others can’t wait to break out the boots, coats, gloves and sleds. Whatever your seasonal preference, winter IS coming and there are certain ways we can better prepare ourselves, our homes and our family for winter to arrive.
Prepare Your Home
Most of us don’t really think much about preparing our homes for winter. Flipping the thermostat to “heat” is about the sum of what we consider about our homes for winter. There are some key things to consider and practice to prep our homes before winter hits, ensuring that our homes are safe and warm when the temperatures plunge.
- Have vents and chimneys checked, make sure there is nothing blocking either one. A blocked chimney or vent can cause carbon monoxide to back up into your home or cause your system to shut down.
- Insects and rodents are looking for warmth, check your home for holes and cracks where they could possibly enter through. Ants and mice like to build homes in or near woodpiles, so keep your woodpile at least 20 feet away from your home.
- Prepare your pipes, indoor and outdoor, from freezing before the temperatures drop.
- Gradually increase the temperature of your thermostat day by day, instead of one drastic change all at once. Open the blinds during the day to let sunlight in, these tips will help keep your heating costs down as the temperatures transition.
- Don’t forget to have items you may need to take care of the outside of your home like, rakes, shovels, sidewalk salt and snow blowers.
- Check your roof for shingles that may need to be replaced and clean your gutters before the cold sets in.
- Have your car/vehicle inspected by a mechanic you trust before cold weather hits. Make sure your oil is changed, windshield wiper fluid is full, and if you live in an area that receives lots of snow and hazardous conditions, you have the proper tires to travel in snow and ice situations.
- Consider having a generator on hand in case of power outage.
Prepare Your Body
As important as it is to prepare your home for winter weather, the most important thing to prepare is YOU! There are lots of things to get your body ready for the coldest season to come.
- Get your Flu vaccine, Pneumococcal vaccine, Shingles vaccine, Pertussis vaccine, and make sure your Tetanus Vaccine is up to date.
- Keep a close eye on your prescriptions, make sure they are up to date and filled as soon as possible, making fewer trips to the pharmacy for you, especially in bad weather.
- Don’t give up exercise! If you live in a climate where you won't be able to get outside, have exercise DVDs you like on hand, websites or apps loaded on your phone, tablet or laptop that give you a good workout, and exercise equipment like weights, treadmill or exercise bike indoors so you can keep your body moving and fit during the cold weather.
- Stay hydrated! We gravitate towards more coffee, hot tea and hot chocolate during the cold months, but don’t give up drinking water just because it’s cold. Your body still needs water to do its job!
- Continue to eat healthy foods! Don’t let the holidays or temperature drop change good eating habits.There’s always a temptation when it’s cold outside to turn to unhealthy comfort foods. Don’t give in! There are still plenty of healthy choices to eat. Try more foods like berries, nuts and greens that will help boost your immune system and your mood.
- Many people suffer from Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD), a mild form of sadness or depression that is caused by the lack of sunlight. Others find the holidays and colder temps depressing, sad and stressful. Taking vitamins will help your immune system and vitamin D will help the loss of sunlight your body is experiencing. Find fun things to do or have around you, keep in contact with family and friends and see them as often as you can. Having things to look forward to helps the sadness.
Prepare Your Family
With kids at home the possibility of being snowed in for a while is a challenge. Have some items on hand and practices in place to help them (and you) survive a lockdown.
- Have plenty of games, toys, movies, puzzles and craft activities as you can on hand.
- Call your wifi service provider before winter weather comes and ask if there are any precautions you should take to help your service not to be interrupted.
- Keep food, toiletries, paper products and household essentials fully stocked at all times.
- Have fun recipes set aside that your kids can make with you and let them choose some “snowed in” menus so you have their favorite things on hand.
- Encourage them to exercise with you, make it a family time activity.
Find The Positives
Fall into winter can be such a fun time! Focus on the good things these seasons, and their transitions can bring. From Halloween to Thanksgiving, Christmas to a New Year, there are plenty of wonderful things to enjoy and celebrate. Every season has magic and beauty all its own. Find that magic and watch nature put on a fantastic show!
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