BLADE ILLUSTRATION/TOM FISHER
When inclement weather is forecast, northwest Ohio and southeast Michigan residents just want to get home. Local home centers, hardware stores, and auto shops urge people to prepare their homes and vehicles for subfreezing temperatures, snow, and power outages. With that in mind, here are some plan-ahead strategies.
• Use a programmable thermostat to lower the temperature at night or when no one is home. These can be set to begin warming a house just before a family returns.
• Consider infrared heaters, which come in various sizes and help reduce utility costs. New technology makes them inexpensive to operate to increase warmth and comfort.
• Use a humidifier and hydrometer to ensure that the home is at the proper humidity level, which can make a difference in how warm it feel.
• Make sure you have reasonably good furnace filters and consider changing them at the first of every month. Check your furnace specifications to determine how often this needs to be done.
• Weatherstrip doors. A tape called V-Seal forms a V shape and adheres to door jams to stop drafts. Attach an edge, seal, or sweep to doors, and/or replace the threshold insert.
• Clear snow and ice. A good snow shovel and/or blower, and salt or other substance to melt ice are helpful.
• Protect water pipes. Self-regulating heat tape lowers the risk of frozen pipes.
• Unhook the garden hose from the outside spigot to prevent freezing water from cracking the spigot or pipes that lead into the home.
• Protect windows. Shrink film for windows comes in kits in different sizes. Caulking also seals windows, though it can be tough to remove. A newer product that’s like caulking, Seal ’N Peel, goes on with a caulking gun and is easy to remove. Spray foam insulation fills cracks, expands, then hardens. Be careful because there are different types and some can expand so much they impede a door or window from opening.
• Have an emergency kit for the car that includes a blanket, a set of warm clothes, gloves and boots, jumper cables, flares, flashlight, first aid, snacks, and water.
• Make sure tires are in good shape. Good tread on tires is key to safe driving when roads become slippery.
• A good ice scraper, windshield wipers, and a lock lubricant are basics for the car.
• Have a general safety check of a vehicle’s hoses and belts, starting and charging systems, wiper blades, and windshield washer system.
• Check the antifreeze level and make sure heater and defrost systems work properly