Tuesday, December 6, 2011

It’s Never too Early to be Prepared for Winter!

Winter may not officially begin until December 21st, but now is a great time to prepare yourself, your home and your pets for the colder weather that we’re already feeling here in Massachusetts. There are a number of things you can do to winterize your home as well as precautions you can take when heading out on the roadways or even out for a walk with your dog! Below are some common sense tips compiled from various organizations including the Massachusetts Emergency Management Agency, the State of Massachusetts Animal Response Team and the Massachusetts Department of Transportation.

Winterize your Home

Individual and family needs are of the utmost importance when determining the level of winterization you’d like to achieve in your home. However, there are a few basic ideas that will not only help keep in the heat, but will also save you a few dollars on your heating expenses:

1. Be sure to clean and replace filters on furnace once a month or as needed to permit better air flow through the house.
2. Caulk or weather-strip your windows and doors to prevent heat loss.
3. Make sure warm-air registers are not blocked by furniture, carpeting or drapes.
4. Insulate your attic, walls, basement and crawl space. Install storm windows and doors to help keep out drafts.
5. Clean warm-air registers, baseboards heaters, and radiators.
6. Keep the damper closed when your fireplace is not in use to keep warm air in.

These are just a half dozen ideas that will help you keep your home safe and warm during the winter months. For more ideas, you can check out MEMA’s web page by visiting www.mass.gov.

Keeping your Pets Safe

When you head out the door during the winter months, you put on a coat, some gloves and possibly a hat. Those are the precautions you take to protect yourself from the bitter cold, but one must also take the necessary steps to keep your pets safe as well! We are not saying you have to put a hat or mittens on your 60 pound golden retriever, but remain aware that your pet needs to be protected too:

1. Do not leave your pet outdoors when temperatures drop below freezing.
2. Dogs need outdoor exercise, but take care not to keep them outdoors for lengthy periods of time during very cold weather.
3. Care for your pet’s feet. If your pet walks on salted or chemically treated areas, be sure to wash its paws after your walk. Gently rub the bottom of the feet to remove these irritants as soon as your dog is off the road.
4. Locked cars are a danger is the winter. Never leave a pet locked inside a car during extremely cold weather. Cars can actually act like a refrigerator, holding in cold air, putting your pet at risk.
5. Parked vehicles can attract small animals, which may crawl under the hood seeking warmth. To avoid injuring hiding animals, bang on your car’s hood to scare them off before starting your engine.
6. Be mindful of frozen bodies of water. Always keep your pets on a leash! If a pet falls through the ice, do not attempt to rescue your pet yourself; call 9-1-1 or go for help.
7. Antifreeze and de-icing chemicals can be hazardous. Antifreeze has a sweet taste that can attract animals. Always store antifreeze out of reach and clean up spills.

For additional information about keeping your pets safe, go to the State of Massachusetts Animal Response Team (SMART) website at www.smart-mass.org.

Safe Winter Driving

Navigating the roadways during the winter, especially during the holidays, can be tricky to say the least. With the increased traffic and slick roads, you must remain cautious and use common sense while traveling.

1. Motorists should check all fluids, make sure their radiator is winterized, maintain a gas tank above half-full and keep windshield washing fluid on hand.
2. A winter survival kit should always be on hand and include an ice scraper and shovel, flashlight, jumper cables and flares.
3. Use the brake and gas pedal lightly when driving in icy conditions and watch for bridges, which freeze before roadways.
4. Do not use cruise control in icy conditions.
5. Clear frost from windows and mirrors and all snow from roof and hood of car.
6. Remember that the road in front of the plow is usually in much worse condition than the roadway behind the plow. It is recommended to stay a safe distance behind snowplows.
7. In wintry weather, motorists should drive with headlights on.
8. Keep a safe distance between vehicles as cars tend to skid on icy roads.

More information on winter driving is available at the MassDOT website.

It is the hope of The Capitol View that the information and phone numbers provided above are of value and assistance to you. We hope you all have a safe winter season.