From flooding to freezing? Be prepared!

  • Fri Jan 22nd, 2021 6:00pm
  • Life

Just as we’re recovering from a wicked wind storm, rain and flooding, the weather forecasters are now predicting snow! Yep, January and February can sure be wild weather months around here.

If the forecast is correct, we’ll need to switch gears from raking out storm drains to shoveling off sidewalks.

Because snow and ice are a bit more unusual around here, we’re reminding you what that means for you and your house.

Be prepared for freezing weather

Let’s start with the ice. As most of us know from experience, it just takes a little ice on a sidewalk, porch or stairs to cause a tumble – sometimes a significant one.

Older people in particular should be aware of avoiding walking on slippery ice. It doesn’t take much of a fall to break a bone or become badly bruised. For anyone that’s a pain and a hassle, but for someone living alone or elderly, it can have more dire consequences.

And these days with Covid-19 still an issue, we all need to stay as well and whole as possible.

So our first bit of advice in this cold spot is to stay aware. We don’t need to tell you that ice is most often clear and can be hard to see, particularly at night. So, with these predicted low temperatures, assume surfaces are iced over until you know otherwise!

However, if you can, then carefully shovel off icy stairs, decks, porches, walkways and the like. Sometimes a stiff broom can do the trick to get snow off so it doesn’t turn icy.

Using the old standby – rock salt – to get rid of and prevent ice is always an option. And if that’s what you have, use it. However, we recommend the chemical de-icer because rock salt use over time will damage concrete. De-icer can be found at local hardware stores or big box stores.

If you’re not able to take care of this yourself, ask a neighbor, relative or friend to clear you a safe path out of your house.

(And, neighbor, relative or friend: Remember in a snow or ice event, be thinking who might need a hand and be sure to offer it – with gloves on, and socially distanced, of course.)

On Your Cold ‘To Do’ List

Take a look at this list to see if you’re doing all you can to keep yourself – and your house – warm and cozy.

■ If you haven’t wrapped your outside faucets, do so now. Even an old T-shirt, towel or newspapers wrapped in plastic and secured with rubber bands will do the trick. (It should go without saying, but we will say it anyway, that if your hoses aren’t put away in the garage, they should be emptied and put away.)

■ In extended cold spells one way to prevent a bursting pipe is leave both hot and cold water dripping, preferably at the sink farthest from the hot water tank. (That way, the whole water system will keep circulating.) It’s not very often around here, that we need to do this, but it’s good to remember this method, just in case!

■ Close your foundation vents during any extended cold spell. It will make your house more comfortable and save on your heating bill. (Just remember to open them up for needed ventilation when the cold season is over.)

■ If you can, close off a room, rooms or even a floor of your house both to keep the cold out and the heat in the areas that you are living in.

■ Layer your clothing so that not only will the added bulk keep you warm, the trapped layers of air between layers will also insulate you.

■ Check for drafts by windows, doors and fireplaces. If you are not using your fireplace, shut the draft! (You may want to leave a note to remind yourself to open it later.) Even a rolled up towel against the bottom of an outside door can keep the cold from seeping in.

■ Consider replacing inefficient, drafty single-pane windows in the future. In the meantime, fill any gaps and holes with caulking or foam and place weather-stripping around your doors.

■ Look on the PUD’s website to look for some great information and programs to keep you more comfortable – and your power bill lower.

Dave Murnen and Pat Beaty are construction specialists at NeighborWorks of Grays Harbor County, where Murnen is executive director. This is a nonprofit organization committed to creating safe and affordable housing opportunities for all residents of Grays Harbor County. For questions about the ductless heat pump program or home repair, housing counseling for renters and landlords, homebuyer education and buying, call 360-533-7828, listen to the extension picks that will best help you and leave a callback name and number. Due to Covid-19, our office is not currently open for a visit, but we will call you back.