Winter Came Early. Are You Ready?

Many areas across the country are experiencing a fast end to the manageably crisp fall temperatures they usually enjoy, going from jacket weather to parka-and-longjohns overnight. Many areas that could expect highs to hover in the 50s are experiencing record-breaking lows; some already have a blanket of snow on the ground and below-zero wind chills.

The abrupt transition from seasonably cool to fantastically frigid likely took many readers (and this author) by surprise. Their best winter garments are probably still in storage or at the cleaners, leaving them to cobble together layered outfits to brave the cold or simply huddle indoors until the sudden cold snap passes.

If you haven’t yet bundled up, now’s a good time to start. Many retailers have announced Black Friday deals well ahead of the actual day, so you can buy yourself that new coat, sweater or blanket at a discount. Better still, you can find lightly used garments at area thrift stores supplied by ClothingDonations.org a fraction of their original retail prices.

Once you’ve got yourself covered, you’ll want to prepare for the worst. Winter storms could trap you inside for days, so make sure you have a good snow shovel and plenty of food and drinking water on hand, Simple Family Preparedness says. Stock up on wood for the fireplace and salt or sand for the sidewalks.

If an extended deep freeze is on the way, fill your gas tank to prevent fuel line freezes. Charge cell phones and fuel backup generators. Weather-strip drafty windows and doors. And refamiliarize yourself with the location of your home’s main water valve in case the pipes freeze and burst.

Most home winterization tasks are a matter of keeping snow, ice and prolonged below-zero temperatures from ruining the equipment that keeps your home climate-controlled in the first place. “Proper winterization involves a systematic review of your home’s HVAC equipment, as well as the critical structural and mechanical systems,” The Spruce says.

Check the furnace and replace filters. Cover your central air conditioning unit to prevent debris from getting in it. Inspect and clean the chimney and insulate exposed pipes against freezes. It’s a lot to get done — but once you do, you can ride out the cold winter months in calm and comfort. Get started before it’s too late!

Keep Your Car Safe in Snowy Weather

To ensure that you can start and drive your car safely throughout winter, check your tire pressure frequently. If the tread is getting low when checked with the using the penny test; replace them if necessary. Test your battery or take it to a mechanic or auto parts store for testing. Top off the antifreeze and look for leaks if it’s low. Replace headlamps if they seem dim, and wax or polish the lens exteriors. Replace the windshield wipers, and refill the windshield washer fluid. Finally, Reader’s Digest recommends, keep a full tank of gas to prevent fuel line freezes.

Prepare Your Car for Cold Weather

As the temperatures plummet, the most important aspect of your car is that it continues to start and handles well even on icy roads. To protect against getting stranded, first check the battery, Consumer Reports says; if it’s five years old or weak already, replace it. Replace your wiper blades to ensure that they can quickly clear away the snow, mist and dirt that will kick up from the road in inclement weather. Check and top off (or change) the oil and antifreeze. And finally, consider investing in new tires — all-season radials or snow tires — if any of the tread on the current tires is getting low.

Keep Your Car Clean to Prevent Rust

Snow, ice and salt can wreak havoc on a car’s exterior. If you want to protect your investment and still navigate slippery highways and streets, wait until the temperature is above freezing, and wash your car down with warm water and soap, Safelite says, adding baking soda to the wash mixture if you drive on salted roads. Pay close attention to the undercarriage and wheels, since they have the most exposure to moisture and muck. Finally, dry the car completely. Repeat the process every two to three weeks to protect against the formation of rust.

KeepIng Your Car’s Interior Clean in Winter

Cars can take a beating in the dead of winter. Dead leaves, slush, snow, ice and road salt can build up inside, making it constant battle to keep a car clean and comfortable. Inside, keep a trash bag, since the winter weather may keep you from hopping out whenever you see a convenient receptacle. Invest in a set of weatherproof floormats to keep the carpeting clean. Have a small box of wipes ready to clean the glass and plastic surfaces. Or garage your “nice” car in winter, suggests CarThrottle, instead using public transportation or buying a beater that can handle the snowy, sloppy weather.