Time to prepare your home and car for winter

September 28, 2021 by PEMCO Insurance

In a year that's been anything but, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Association has a word you'll like: Normal. Its long-range forecast for the remainder of the year predicts unremarkable temperatures and above-normal precipitation for much of Washington and Oregon.

That's good news for everyone concerned about drought or the possibility of another 2019 deep freeze. And it also means it's time to begin your usual preparations to protect your home and car from the coming winter weather.

GettyImages-1195793605 (1).jpg For your home 

  1. Disconnect your garden hose and protect the faucet with a foam cover. If it has an indoor valve, turn it off and open the faucet to drain any trapped water so it can't freeze and potentially rupture the pipe. 
  1. Clean gutters to prevent ice damming. During rapid snowmelt, plugged gutters could cause water to seep back into the roof (causing leaks) or overflow near the foundation, causing leaks and settling. 
  1. Clear debris out of drains at the bottom of driveways and exterior stairwells. (Keep checking until your neighborhood trees have fully shed their leaves.) 
  1. Wrap pipes in unheated spaces (think garages and workshops). Beef up skimpy insulation in attics and crawl spaces. 
  1. Get your furnace and chimneys professionally serviced before the heating season kicks into high gear. 
  1. Store seasonal items like outdoor furniture, so your patio umbrella won't become a window-shattering projectile in a windstorm. 
  1. Replace surge protectors if they're over two years old. Surge protectors silently degrade every time they save your appliances and tech by absorbing excess voltage. Since there's usually no way to tell when an electrical event occurs, it's hard to know how many hits they've taken. Replace them immediately if you know they've fended off a major surge. 
  1. Stock up on firewood and nonperishable food in case a power outage leaves you in the dark or a snowstorm hampers travel. Build up an emergency supply of prescription medications by refilling as soon as allowed by your pharmacy/insurance so you'll always have a few extra days' worth of medication on hand. 

For your car 

  1. Check your antifreeze (with a tester available at auto parts stores) to see the temperature at which your protection ends. A 50:50 mixture of antifreeze and water is best, but you may have less than that if you've been topping off with plain water. 
  1. Get your battery tested if it's more than three years old. Your service tech also will clean corrosion from posts and cables. 
  1. Make sure your car has winter-ready tires. Think all-weather, snow or studded depending on when and where you drive. 
  1. Scout snow routes to avoid hills and make alternate arrangements in case you can't get out (or others can't get in) for usual errands, appointments and services. 
  1. Replace wiper blades. They're only good for one year. 
  1. Carry an emergency kit that includes gloves, a water-resistant blanket, warm clothes, nonperishable food and water, sand or old-fashioned non-clumping cat litter (traction if you get stuck), ice scraper, flashlight, tire chains, jumper cables and washer fluid. And your gas tank? Until spring, live by the "half tank" rule (never allowing your gas gauge to dip below that), so you won't have to worry about running out of gas if a weather-snarled commute leaves you stuck on the freeway for hours.

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