The cold never bothered me anyway!

Hot cocoa, holidays and cozy fireplace moments lead to warm family memories during the frigid winter months. It’s almost enough to make you forget the season’s dark side: Record lows. Ice-induced power outages. Slippery sidewalks. Stalled SUVs. Missing mittens. 

While January averages the coldest temperatures of the year in the Delaware Valley, November ushers in serious thermometer dips. Ease into the deep freeze by prepping now to stay ahead of the change in weather.

Winterize your home for a cold spell. 

  • Furnace tuneup. Extreme cold is a burden to both public infrastructure and private heaters. A pre-winter furnace checkup and tuneup is a cost-effective preventive measure that hedges against emergency repairs during the holidays or a resource-strained cold snap. 
  • Check smoke alarms and carbon monoxide detectors to make sure they are working properly. Change batteries.
  • Re-weather-strip or caulk openings around your home, including brick cracks, outdoor water-faucet gaps and the dryer vent. 
  • Vacuum or dust heating vents and change the furnace filter every two months to keep the air fresh.  
  • Stock up on flashlights, batteries and glow sticks in case of power outages. Stay away from candles, which can start a fire that will be hard for help to get to in a storm. 
  • See to the fireplace: Have your chimney cleaned, order firewood and cover your woodpile with a tarp to keep it dry. 
  • Make a power-outage plan. Decide where you’ll go should you lose electricity, whether that’s a nearby hotel or family member’s home. 

Winterize your car.

  •  Schedule a service appointment and make sure your fluids are topped off, your brakes in tip-top shape and your battery fully charged.  
  • Check tires for traction, to keep contact with slippery roads. 
  • Pack emergency items — a blanket, flares, jumper cables, nonperishable snacks and water bottles — in the trunk in case you break down. Keep a retractable snow shovel and a snow scraper in the car at all times. 

Attend to outdoor elements. 

  • Put away summer garden equipment — lawn mowers (drain the gas), weed whackers, rakes and shovels. 
  • Drain hoses and shut off outdoor water faucets. 
  • Cover cold-sensitive plants (like roses) with raked leaves to create extra frost protection. 
  • Double-check swing sets or play structures and take down any parts that could be damaged by snow or cold air. 
  • Stock up on ice-melting products to keep walkways and steps clear, reducing the risk of falls after snowfall and ice.  
  • If you have a snow blower, check to make sure the electric cord is in good working order (not frayed) or fill up a container with fresh gas.
  • Move snow shovels to the front of the garage, for easy access.

NEXT PAGE: Winterize your interiors, get warm and comfy and stock up on fun


Get warm and comfy.

  • Wash outerwear — coats, gloves, hats and scarves — now to cut down on prewear germs.  
  • Size the kids’ winter wear. If it doesn’t fit, shop now for a properly sized coat, snow gear and boots. Discard unmatched mittens or holey hats. 
  • Sock away winter health supplies and baby needs — cold medicine, throat lozenges, moisturizer, lip ointment, diapers, wipes and formula.  
  • Fill the pantry with hearty, healthy staples, like potatoes, chicken soup, oatmeal, canned beans and crackers.  

Stock up on fun.

  • Go cuckoo for cocoa with plenty of marshmallows and instant hot chocolate packets. 
  • Stash away a new board game to pass the time indoors with something that doesn’t require electricity. 
  • Prebuild a snowman by keeping a bag of accessories at the ready, filled with a scarf, knit cap, big buttons, a bubble pipe and old mittens
  • What if it doesn’t snow? Make your own flakes by cutting out paper ones and posting them in your windows for a festive winter look.

Mom-of-two Sharon Miller Cindrich is a columnist and author of A Smart Girl’s Guide to the Internet. 

Categories: Your Home