We’re getting our first official freeze tonight. Anything under 40 is waaaaaay too cold for me, but when you get below freezing, a whole lot of game-changing strategies come into play.
So, if you’re already dealing with the cold, my sympathies. And if it’s just getting to you, there’s no time like the present to do a few things to prepare for it in the weeks and months to come.
1. Check doors and windows. Replace or repair worn weather stripping. Fill holes with caulk or expandable gap filler. (Great Stuff® makes a special kind just for doors.) A quick temporary fix: put a towel or blanket along the bottom of the door. Lots of stores offer “draft dodgers” in a variety of colors and themes, too, just for this purpose.
2. Be road ready. Throw an old blanket in your trunk. (Put a hat, gloves, and scarf in your trunk, too.) Are your windshield wipers in good shape? Locate and check the condition of your ice scrapers, too. Replace them if need be. And while you’re buying stuff, get a can of spray de-icer. You might also consider buying a can of non-stick cooking spray if you don’t have one handy in the kitchen. Spray a light coat around the inside of your car doors and they won’t freeze shut.
3. Tackle the coat closet. You know you’ll be in there rummaging for a coat soon enough. You’re likely to find one or more that don’t fit or that you no longer use. Take them to a Salvation Army, Goodwill, or other second-hand store if they’re still in good shape. Someone can get some use from them.
4. Check on the sick or elderly. If you have family, friends or neighbors who are mostly homebound, make an extra check or two as the temperature drops. These are the groups that are most susceptible to the ill effects of the cold – and the ones who are among the last to turn on the heat due to high utility bills. When you go on a shopping trip, see if they need anything. It gives you a good excuse to check on them and you can ensure they have needed supplies.
5. Cover your faucet. Drain garden hoses, remove them from outside faucets, and cover the faucets. (You can buy covers at the hardware store or an old athletic sock and a trashbag will work, too.) If you have a shut-off valve for your outside faucet (s) use them.
6. Close off your central air unit. There’s a lot of debate about whether or not you should cover a central air unit. One side says they should be completely covered and you can buy poly-plastic covers just for this purpose. The other side discourages this saying that it encourages condensation that can get inside the unit and damage it. They recommend a lightweight piece of plywood over the top of the unit instead. I’ll leave the choice to you. (At This D*mn House, we put a small circular piece of plywood over the top to keep leaves, dirt, debris, and excess moisture from getting inside.)