Winterizing and Preparing for Winter

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Winterizing and Preparing for Winter

This time of year things seem to move so quickly. Halloween is just around the corner and before you know it Thanksgiving and Christmas will be here. To say things will be hectic for most of us is an understatement so now is the perfect time to get as many household projects out of the way as possible before the holiday rush really hits.

Pick a weekend and spend a whole day getting as many things on your list done as you can. Then you won’t have to worry about them for the rest of the winter. Finishing household projects now will also help you be more prepared for when you have a house full of company and really don’t want the furnace breaking down.

Here are some suggestions for things to add to your to do list. Of course, you will have your own things to add to it. I don’t do even half of these things because some don’t apply to me so don’t panic about how long your household project list is. This list is just a sample guideline for you to use.

  • Check the furnace.
  • Clean the flue on your fireplace
  • Winterize your house.Winterizing includes tasks like:
    • Putting away hoses
    • Putting Styrofoam on my outside faucets to keep them from freezing.
    • Putting up storm windows
  • Check doors for appropriate weather stripping.
  • Get out winter clothes and put away summer clothes.
  • Get out your bedding and air it out if it needs it. Place it in the bedrooms where it is ready to use. Put the electric blankets on the bed for that unexpected cold night.
  • Change the batteries in smoke detectors.
  • Make sure your fire extinguisher’s expiration date is still okay.
  • Put your winter emergency kit in the car. Include a couple of blankets, extra mittens, hats, coat, boots, a small shovel, cat litter, etc.
  • Clean out your garage or storage sheds.



photo by: tripletri


  1. Anonymous says

    Hot water bottles are cheaper and cozier–I think anyway–to use than electric blankets. I got mine from vermont Country Store catalog online, but lots of places sell them. The only cost after the initial outlay, which is pretty cheap, is a few minutes worth of electricity or gas to heat up the water. Just be careful when pouring the hot water into the bottle. With a cover the bottles stay warm for a long time. My kids and I love ours. They are also good at other times during the day when you are sitting still.

  2. Jill Cooper says

    That is a great idea and I have read about them doing it in my “bookies” that are set in England but duhhh didn’t think about doing it myself.
    I wonder if a person could use those bags that you make and fill with rice or beans then nuke in the microwave for a neck warmer. Those might work for your bed too.
    That does sound warm and cozy.

  3. Anonymous says

    i just thought of my xmas presents as i am strapped for cash and will use some excess fabric and rice to make the neck warmers for a few friends.

  4. Frenchy says

    One of the best items to use in microwaveable neck-warmers is cherry pits. I eat only a few each year because they are horrendously expensive here, but ask people around me to save them. Now I have almost enough for a “water bottle”, I’ll have to make one next year.
    Since they are hollow, those at the core are insulated and keep warm for a long time. The whole apparatus will cool slower.

  5. says

    one word of caution.
    do not use the same one for hot and cold both.
    going from the freezer to the micro wave and back to the freezer will make them go moldy.
    so store hot ones in a cupboard and cold ones in the freezer.
    If they develop a smell it is time to get rid of them or they could cause health problems.

  6. says

    Fill in low spots on driveways so you don’t end up with ice rinks in small areas. Bad for health.

    A good way to remember to change batteries in smoke detectors and carbon monoxide meters is to do it the same time you set your clocks ahead or back.

    Make sure your salt and snow shovel are in areas easy to access. Replace your window brushes and scrapers in the car. Make sure the scraper blade is sharp. Have a bottle of deicing fluid for your car windshields handy in the trunk. Get a bag of sand for the trunk of your car. the weight helps with traction and if you need more use the sand. Kitty litter does not make for good traction on ice. Have a snow shovel light weight in the trunk of the car.

    Keep emergency candles, a few high energy snacks, sleeping bags, in the car and water for drinking. If you carry a small pot the candle can be used to heat water for warming drinks. Hot chocolate mixes are good for this or cup a soups.

    • says

      I don’t make my own because I don’t use them on a normal basis but I do have a recipe for them and know how to make them at home. One recipe I have says to make them taste more like the real thing is to use lemonade sweetened drink mix in place of sugar of course I know you are trying to cut back on sugar so that would not make any difference to you.

      • David says

        I usually make ten at a time in one cup RubberMaid containers.

        Oatmeal Packs

        1/2 cup Oats
        1/3 cup Dry milk
        1/2 tsp Cinnamon
        1/4 tsp Nutmeg
        1 tbsp Wheat Germ
        1/4 cup walnuts

        Add at cooking time
        1/4 or 1/8 cup Raisins or dates
        or craisins or mango or whatever

        Grind and add at cooking time
        1 tbsp Flax Meal

        Microwave 1 cup Water 2 minutes
        Stir Water into mix
        Microwave 2 minutes

        Note: There is NO sugar.
        This is the hungry guy size.
        You may want to scale back some.

  7. Lucy says

    Pick up and put away stuff in the yard – lawn furniture, garden hose etc. If you have someone come plow or blow your snow, make sure nothing will be in the way of that, or if there is a new feature in the yard (retaining wall, landscaping) mark it with a cone or flag so it doesn’t get damaged by snow removal equipment (or damage the equipment).

    • says

      Also dig your snow shovel out now and make sure yours is in working order. Don’t wait until the first snow and there is a run on shovels at the store to find yours doesn’t work.

  8. says

    I never use them. My mother used to and when the boys were there she would make them up. The boys told me once that they really loved vava but she sure didn’t know how to make porridge.
    I did use the quick cooking or instant oatmeal and add my boys favourites. The flavours were more real than that artificial flavours of the small packs.
    cinnamon and raisin or banana and honey, maple syrup and even corn syrup poured on when hot were great for cold mornings.

    • says

      I’m the same way I like using the quick cook or instant oatmeal. Personally I don’t think it takes a whole lot longer to make it up and I like the taste better too. That is why I say I don’t use it much only for my emergency packets in the car. To me I love to very slow cook even my quick cook oatmeal just because I like mine creamy and I think cooking longer helps with that.

      For those of you who have Dining on a Dime we have a whole page on page 65 of lists of things to put in oatmeal if you want to add to the things grandma suggested.

  9. says

    for shovels. if you have a metal one sharpen it. cuts through the snow better.
    if you have a plastic one wax it. snow comes off it better.
    if you need a new one buy one of the ergonomic ones. They are easier on your joints and you don’t have to throw the snow it sort of piles it without the major throw.
    Make sure your snow blower is set to go. put away the boat gas and oil haul out the snow blower gas and oil. Saves frustration as you have to shovel out the lane to get the car out so you can go to the store for something you forgot and the snow blower doesn’t work.

  10. says

    A good idea if you live in an area where it gets really cold and lots of snow is to have an alternative heat source.
    If the power goes out and you use electric heat or a furnace which requires power to get the heat to the house what do you do.
    My husband and I have a small kerosene heater which heats the upstairs and a larger one which will heat the entire house.
    We also have a propane camping heater which you have to have a window open to use.
    So if you don’t have an alternative plan make a plan for staying warm and fed when the power goes out.
    We keep our camping stove easily accessible and it has come in handy quite a few times when the lights are out. We have a propane lantern to read by cook stove to cook on placed by an open window and the bbq in the garage.
    It is sort of an unwritten rule around here plan for the worst and pray for the best.
    or be prepared and hope you don’t need it.

    • says

      I have told my kids to have a wood burning stove in their house. We have no trouble finding wood for free and it is always there in case. I had a pot belly stove for years and used it to not only to heat the house when I couldn’t afford to pay for gas but when we had no electricity I could cook on the top of it. It was perfect.

      I feel very much like a sitting duck and unprepared in the house I am in now because I don’t have a wood burning stove and don’t want to put one in since I am thinking of selling. My kids both are prepared but I have nothing and in a true ice storm I couldn’t drive to their homes either so I am holding my breath.

      One thing to think about if you are buying a home or going to put a gas fireplace in be sure you get one which doesn’t need electricity to start it. Many people have gas fireplaces but they are of no use when the power goes out because they have electric switches on them to start them.

      • Pam says

        I live in an all electric house. We don’t get much snow here but do get one or two ice storms a year. some times the power goes out. I bought a kerosene heater and a couple of sealed containers of kerosene for emergencies. Don’t forget to buy the hand pump for the kerosene.

  11. says

    here is a tip for if the power goes out.
    put a couple candles into the kitchen sink and a cup or whatever number you need to make hot soup or drinks in beside it. The candle heat will make the water hot enough for tea and soup and hot chocolate. Probably instant coffee as well.
    Fill any thermos’ with hot water from the tap before it cools down too much.
    Have everyone go into one room and close the door and bring in all the candles. You probably have enough light to read by and the candles will keep the room warmer.
    If the power is off for a day or more expect a baby boom 9 months later. What better way to stay warm.

    • says

      One thing I found out with our last ice storm was we all were going to have to go to my son’s who was the only one with power left so I had to leave my house. I hated the thought of losing all of my house plants – some were special gifts and things but I couldn’t take them with me.

      I pulled off a start from each plant to take with me and the rest I put in the little room where my hot water heater was and shut the door. I was so surprised when I got home days later at how nice and warm the room was just from the pilot light of the hot water heater. All my plants did fine.

      A candle can make a difference like you said grandma. I carry a coffee can with candles in my car to place the candle in like a mini heater if I need it.

  12. barb~ says

    I remember my grandma heating up bricks or rocks in her stove, wrapping them in blankets and putting them under our sheets and comforters at the bottom of the bed. It was heaven! The bed was soo toasty when we climbed in on cold winter nights! The bed stayed warm all night…it was amazing.

    I always tossed my kids coats, mittens, etc. in the dryer for a few minutes right before they left for school on very cold days.

    Jill-My close neighbors and I have agreed to help each other this winter should we have really bad weather….or,worse. One has purchased cases of water, another has a kerosene heater, others are stocking up on candles, matches and canned goods. I have a large supply of pillows, blankets and I have been buying hand lotion, lip balm, hand sanitizer, wipes,etc. when they are on sale. I also have saved magazines, puzzles and the like. A good medical kit should be a must for everyone, too. Check with your Dr. to see if you can get an extra refills on necessary meds for emergency situations. Don’t forget pet food!!!!!!

    I really enjoy being snowed in for a couple of days…Let in snow, let in snow, let it snow!! (Just a couple of days, though!!)

  13. says

    Florida = hurricanes
    California = earthquakes and drought
    Arizona = deserts and in some parts flooding.
    Eastern sea coast = hurricanes.

    Think I will stick with snow storms and storms of black flies.

    But it simply means we all have to have a plan on how to survive them.
    Nice this site gives us ideas we can adapt to.

  14. Debby McGann says

    I am so happy I live in Florida :-) Where it is beautiful & sunny…and many times is in the 80’s even in December…PS: no hurricanes this year :-)

  15. Sandra says

    I was walking through my local Wal Mart and saw a big box of those 6 ft “swim noodles” on clearence for $1.00 ea. As I walked past it hit me “6ft., hollow foam, waterproof, cheap” Pipe insulation! Now my outdoor pipes are cozily dressed with bright pink, green, lavender coats. I also cut some in 1/8 pieces and they are tucked under a couple of windows that do not close tightly enough to keep out the air. Several more were cut in 2 ft sections then cut in half and glued to the walls and floor of my big dog’s house under his bedding to add some waterproof insulation. Add a metal shop lamp with a 40 watt incadescent bulb to the roof peak, some overlapping 8 in plastic strips over his door and his house is cozy warm for winter. Right now he is warm enough just from the insulation and body heat to not need the light.

  16. Judith says

    Those water noodles come in even more handy—use them split on one side and popped over the edge of things like the porch swing that hits my siding—use a ZIP STRIP at each end to secure. Also people around here use them to cover the chains on the end of seasonal driveways.

    I am wondering if they might not “beef up” those drive way stakes—we have to put out a few as we park a bunch of cars and we end up moving the stakes each storm; they are fairly flimsy and flop over just when you need em. But if you cut a noodle to fit the length they might give the reflector more stability. And they might be more visible to the Plow Guy.

    Also good over the roof rack when hauling skis, kayaks or furniture. They sell products for this that cost the earth and are pretty much the same thing!!!! And we used them for edge protection on small kids boats too. And rope floats and fenders–almost unlimited uses to these and cheap even if they are not on clearance.

  17. rose says

    jill .. we make the hot water bottles out of the sunday newspaper bags all of the time .. the work great esp if you have an upset stomach (they are huge so they fit all over ur tummy) and they warm up a bed really fast ..
    what i do is take 3 of the bags, insert the other 2 in one of them … run the tap water (hot) til its super hot (or as hot as i could stand it), push out the excess air and then knot the bag .. and voila! …
    also, yes you could make one of those rice/bean bags .. my friend used to make them all of the time when we worked at the papers and sell them .. she used rice .. and she sewed little pouches made out of flannel or fleece ..

    • says

      You can also use an old sock to make these bags. Just fill with rice or beans, tie at the top and you can then microwave them when you need them.

  18. Darcy says

    For ‘heating pads’ that are non electric there are a myriad of things to use. By far our favorite has been flax seed. We have had rice, cracked corn, soybean, and flax. The flax by far is better in that it makes the bag soft and pliable and has no smell yet and has been over 3 years. We have had smells from the rice and cracked corn but so far the soybean we have had only less than a year. We have bought all of ours but are going to make experiment ones with the different fillings. I am curious about the cherry pits…please let me know how they do. We are use ours almost daily in colder weather as heating pads to just get/keep warm and it is a must for bedtime for the 5 kiddoes. In the summer we put them in a bag and pop them in the freezer and they are a great cool down during the day and night as we only have a window a/c in living room and no where else. We plan on making hand size ones and seeing how they do as ‘pocket warmers’/’boo-boo ices’.

  19. Grandma says

    instead of blankets which take up a lot of room get some of those tin foil looking blankers. they are super cheap and can fit in almost anyplace including an inside pocket.
    if someone is hurt and laying on the cold ground you place one on the ground under them to keep the cold come coming up and one over him to keep heat in.
    We carry a couple in both vehicles in our emergency kits.
    Think useful then think small and the kit gets made quicker and is easy to haul around.

  20. annie says

    What size are the tin foil covers? I’m wondering if they couldn’t be placed between the top sheet and blanket on our bed at night? We turn the heat down at night so this sounds like it would help with the heating bills. I’m always looking for ways to cut our bills as every little bit does add up.

    • says

      Annie the foil covers that Grandma is talking about are very thin and not to heavy duty. They work great in an emergency or to use a couple of times but I don’t think they would hold up to every day wear and tear especially if someone was laying on top of them at night. I do keep a couple in my car too like Grandma for an emergency and they work great for that.

      I don’t push products too often and have never paid full price for a set of sheets until recently but I just bought me a set of sheets (they were on sell for $40 off of QVC) and they have been amazing for keeping me warm. I had always used flannel but these are so much better then flannel. They are softer and warmer then a baby’s blanket. I love them. They are made out of micro fiber/fleece but a special type that will not make you get hot and sweaty like some of the fleece throws and things can. I even used them when the temps were about 85 and they didn’t make me too warm and I usually get so much warmer then others.

      I keep my temp about 55 degrees at night and last night (we had -4 wind chill) I only used those a blanket made of the same stuff and one other blanket and was so comfy cozy and the perfect warmth.

  21. annie says

    Thank you Jill, I’ll have to get some of the foil covers for my car to be prepared for this winter. Those sheets really sound like they are warm. Yikes! That -4 wind chill is really cold. Brrrrrrr.

    • Grandma says

      Don came home from work at 4am and it was -30 celcius without the wind factored in.
      warmed up to -17 celcius during the sun hours but now at 5pm it is back down to -20 and sinking.
      -4 is downright balmy on the north shore of lake superior.

    • Grandma says

      annie while you are at it get some of those hand warmer things that you rub the bag together and they heat up.
      great for warming body parts other than just hands.
      Little ones hands and feet get cold if the car is sitting and putting one in mitts and boots saves cold feet and tears.
      they can be found just about anyplace at least where it gets cold they are even sold in grocery stores around here.
      they are bit more expensive but they are well worth the price.
      In the winter on trips it is a good idea to carry a thermos of hot water. then if cold you can make mom and dad a cup of tea or instant coffee and little ones cup of soups or hot chocolate.

      • says

        I have a cup thing you can plug into the cigarette lighter of the car and it heats up the water. My mom has one she keeps in her car too and she uses hers all the time on trips and things. I keep a 2 liter bottle of water and packets of stuff.

        • Grandma says

          if your car is not running that little thermos cup can drain your battery before too long. better to save the power and use a thermos.
          we keep a single burner propane stove but many others get one of those small stoves that use a candle to cook with or butane. this also heats the car a bit just crack a window when using any sort of flame.

  22. says

    well we had our first snow sleet and rain storm.
    Had to wait a day or two to take down my screen tent as the ice and snow covered it. Can’t put it away wet or you might as well toss it in the garbage now as in the spring. Mold grows really well in storage.
    Have to put away the off road bikes and get the snow blowers out so the bikes can go where they are.
    Still have to drain the hoses and bring them into the basement.
    Around here the winter stuff never really gets put away. Just moved to the far end of the closets. Some years kids are wearing winter jackets to watch the fire works on labour day. And when boating on Lake Superior heavy coats are an almost must.
    Winter has arrived and it isn’t even halloween yet. That is our usual winter storm season beginning.

    • says

      I think it is so funny because when I watch a show on TV and in most of the scenes it is snowing I think “This must have been made in Canada” and sure enough it usually is. I think Canada would be so nice to live. When I was young I read a book called Mrs. Mike and it was about a Canadian Monty’s wife living in the wilderness in the early 1900’s. It is one of my favorite books and one of only a very few I keep because I love them so much.

          • Angie M. says

            Anyone interested in reading the book ‘Mrs. Mike’, check your library. I checked the online catalog for my library and there are multiple copies available across my state. There was even a videocassette…it looks like the book may have been made into a movie at some point.

      • Angie M. says

        I will have to see if I can find that Mrs. Mike book at the library. We can do library loans from anywhere in our state now, so I might just be able to find it.

        I have read Janette Oke’s Canadian West series many times…it’s also about a lady married to a Royal Canadian Mounty in the early 1900’s. Very good series… :)

    • says

      So sorry Elaine. I was worried it wasn’t in print at all but keep checking maybe used book stores and different places or even the library might have it.

  23. rose says

    jill and elaine .. i just clicked on that link and in amazon they sell a used one for 1 cent plus shipping .. thats the lowest price if u want to buy one .. just sharing ..

  24. Veronica Tidd says

    When we get ice all over everything I take a watering can with a “rose” on the spout and fill it with very hot water. Then I sprinkle the water on the ice followed immediately with sand, sawdust or kitty litter. this melts the ice just enough to get the sand etc to stick especially helpful when it’s too cold for ice melt to work.
    I also have a pair of overshoes with spikes in the sole. The ones you strap on work but don’t last very long. one year we had three feet of snow and I needed to get to the barn to feed the horses. After a few steps I was exhausted so resorted to crawling. It was slow but very effective.
    There are some important things to remember when winterizing the outdoor hoses. Turn off the water inside the house, remove the hose, drain and store. Open the outside faucets and leave them open. if you need outside water there are special standpipes that can be installed. they go four feet into the ground and when turned off the water drains back. If you need to use a hose keep it in the house and use a quick connector that just snaps into the hose and faucet which saves getting your hands soaked when you uncouple.
    As far as cooking is concerned a small propane cooker works well. You can use the small cans of ethenol set in a larger can punched with airholes for fast hot water.
    To heat a room a kerosene or portable propane heater are handy but you do need to be aware of adequate venilation.
    Finally don’t forget the BBQ that can be used out of the weather in the garage with the door open.
    In desperation light a small outdoor fire and practice cooking without utensils.
    Where there’s a will there’s a way

  25. Bea says

    I have that book “Mrs Mike.” I will have to try to find it somewhere in my books. Since I just moved, that will take some time, because I have lots of books, and some are in containers, but I hope I find it soon. Thanks for mentioning it Jill. I bought it years ago at a used book sale where almost 100 percent are my books are from. USED and cheap.

  26. rose says

    yw jill .. i was loooking at this book as well .. and read the first few pages they show an example of .. i am thinking of getting it as well ..
    does the mrs mike have a bunch of other books as well (like in a series?) .. just curious ..

  27. says

    Reading through the emails about keeping warm at night reminded me that my Grandmother would use safety pins to pin newspaper to the top of bedding to trap in body heat. It is the same principal as wall insulation in that the trapped air holds the heat. If you are ever lost or camping choose large river rocks that have no cracks in which water could be trapped and from high enough up the slope as to not be wet. Use the rocks to form the campfire ring. Push them closer to the coals are rotte a few times to warm through. I wrap them inside a leg of my jeans and put one at my feet and one for my stomach. Kept warm in Colorado winters.

  28. Sandra says

    I put rice into pillow cases and sew them shut. You can add a few drops of lavendar oil and or euclaptius. (Spelt wrong) Do not use a pillow case with a zipper. It doesnt matter the rice. (I slways frese my rice 1st kill any bugs) heat 30 sec at a time in microwave. These dont last all night but will warm a bed or help with back aches, sore muscles, etc. The good thing is you can infuse any herbs or oils you want and reuse it over and over.

    For long lasting very cold ice packs that are plyable and reusable
    1.5 cups water 1.5 cups rubbing alcohol (higher percent preferable)
    Put in zip lock freezer bag or maker a precut sizee with food saver bags. The work great for kid injuries, sore muscles, lunch boxes. You can use them over and over till the bags fall apart… then get a new bag. Add food coloring for the little girls in your life. I use the 1:1 ratio. Some uses more water but they are not as plyable.

  29. Mary Jane says

    Jill. The book, “Mrs. Mike” is a true story, and was written about living at little settlement called Hudson Hope in northern B.C. in Canada. That little community still exists, and is about an hour’s drive from where I live (by road), and a whole lot closer as the crow flies. It is the site of the W.A.C. Bennett Dam, a major power project built in the 1960’s. It is situated on the Peace River. It is rivers, lakes, prairies, mountains and foothills in this country. Winter usually arrives by Halloween, and stays until the end of April. It is dark from about 5:30 p.m. until 9:30 a.m. in the dead of winter. Minus 20 degrees Celsius are typical temps. with several bouts of minus 30 to minus 40 degrees Celsius being common. Haven’t read Mrs. Mike in years. I may need to check it out from the library.

    • says

      That is so cool Mary Jane. It is interesting to know the difference between where you live now and what it was like in Mrs. Mike’s time. I have to say you Canadians are super robust when it comes to the cold weather. I have to take my hats off to you guys. I watch shows on TV and if it is snowing during most of the show I always think – that must have been filmed in Canada and sure enough it usually is. : )

  30. Doris Pearson says

    We have a propane wall heater in the basement. It heats part of the upstairs, mostly our bedroom. Does not have to be vented. We have encouraged several people to get one. They have natural gas or propane ones. No electricity needed. We can sleep down there (small apartment) if the generators are not working. We need gasoline for those.
    These wall heaters are available at Home Depot, Sutherlands, etc.

  31. Mary Jane says

    Here it is Oct. again and winter is just around the corner for us. We have wood heat, but sometimes in the winter, this rickety, old house of ours can still have a cold draft along the living room floor. A simple solution for us is to roll up an old cloth rug, wool blanket or lap throw, and tie it in 3 or 4 places, then just snug the roll up against the crack at the bottom of our living room door. It is called a draft stopper, or door snake. Whenever we open and close the door, we just take a moment to scoot the snake in place with our foot. It takes just a second to do, and the drafts are kept at bay. You can buy them commercially made or you can make a cloth tube, and permanently stuff it for just such a use. We just roll up a blanket, and then unroll and wash it come spring. Last year, my husband came home, and announced “Well, I guess it is officially winter….the door snake is back.”

    • says

      I have had the same problem for years too. I have a throw run in front of my door. After I step into the house I snug it up against the bottom of the door and the then just pull it back as I walk out to leave. You are right these do make a big difference.

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