Now that we’re in winter’s icy grip, are you armed with the tools you need to get through the cold months, snowstorms, and potential power outages? Here are the items that every homeowner should have on standby to get them through whatever surprises winter may have in store!
Shovels, Snowblowers and Ice Melters
Keeping driveways and walkways clean in the winter months can be a daunting task, but choosing the right snow removal tools can make the work a bit easier. Having at least one shovel on hand is essential, and knowing what kind of shovel to choose will help prevent aches and pains. You’ll want to pick a lighter weight shovel with a D-shaped handle that fits your grip, and a rigid, sturdy scoop that won’t bend or break easily.
If you have a much larger area to clear, a snowblower is a wise investment, but do some research before buying. There are many factors to consider when selecting the right snowblower, including the size of the area you’ll be cleaning, what the surface under the snow is made of, and the type of snow you’ll be clearing.
Ice melters are also important for sidewalks, walkways and steps, and while rock salt is a very common choice, there are a number of other options. When choosing an ice melt, you’ll want to choose one that is most effective on the area you are deicing, but also keep in mind other potential effects. Some deicers can damage concrete, asphalt, decks, and brickwork, while others can be toxic to pets and humans. Sand is another option but it can be quite messy, especially once everything thaws.
Carbon Monoxide Detectors
When temperatures drop, lighting up the wood stove or fireplace helps create a warm and cozy atmosphere in your home, plus it can help with home heating costs. Besides a thorough cleaning of your wood stove or fireplace, flue and chimney, be sure to have a carbon monoxide detector on hand to prevent any potential incidents. Most home fire protection systems include carbon monoxide detection, but if yours doesn’t, there are battery operated and electric options.
Whether it’s for a power outage or to search for something outside of the house when it’s dark, everyone should own at least one flashlight. Battery operated torches are still most common, but there are also rechargeable, solar and crank flashlights available depending on your needs. When purchasing a flashlight, be sure to look at the light output (or lumens), beam distance, run time, and impact resistance before selecting the best one for your home.
Battery Operated Radios
We are so reliant on our smart phones, computers and televisions for news and information, but when there’s a blackout, a battery operated AM/FM radio is invaluable. Keep one around for the times when power isn’t restored quickly and you can’t access the internet or social media for updates on the outage and restoration efforts.
Always have some batteries in the house, especially in the winter when the power can go out from high winds, ice and heavy snow. AA and AAA batteries are the ones most commonly required, but also keep some C and D batteries for items like radios or flashlights. The best plan is to check your battery operated items and stock up on the right types.
Candles, Matches and Lighters
Some other important items for those times when you lose power are candles and matches or lighters, when used safely. Always keep the candles out of the reach of pets and children, and away from anything flammable. To light the candles, long-reach matches are recommended, or a BBQ/kitchen lighter. Simple taper candles, a pillar candle, or larger 2 or 3 wick candles light up a room nicely if properly monitored.
Extra blankets are great to have around in the winter. Snuggle under a fleece throw in the living room if you find things a bit chilly, or if you’re trying to reduce heating costs. Have spare blankets, quilts or comforters on hand in the bedroom to keep warm during cooler nights. And in case you lose power, have some blankets stored in an easy to access spot.
If you still have a landline, keep a corded phone around for times when the power goes out or mobile phone service down. A corded phone doesn’t need electricity, so you can simply plug it into the phone jack and be able to reach family, friends and emergency services during a blackout.
First Aid Kits
One item that every item should have for all seasons is a first aid kit. In the winter, a first aid kit is particularly helpful in case of injuries sustained while going from the car to the house, while clearing snow, or for illness or injuries that happen during a blackout. Your first aid kit should contain elastic bandages in case of sprains, adhesive bandages for blisters and small cuts, gauze and medical tape for larger wounds, alcohol pads, antibiotic ointment, a thermometer, medical gloves, scissors, an instant cold pack, a flashlight, and pain medication like ibuprofen, aspirin or acetaminophen.