Merry Christmas and Happy New Year
However you celebrate the season, Norwall wishes everyone a safe and happy Holiday Season and a Happy New Year.
Holiday travel and shopping, family gatherings, and winter vacations are hallmarks of the season. We rush around to find that one perfect and yet elusive gift for a special someone, make final preparations for family meals and holiday traditions, and finalize our plans for getaways at warm beaches and cruise ships or a snowy ski resorts. A little preparation for emergencies goes a long way toward a smooth and less worrisome holiday season.
This holiday season, take a little time to plan and prepare before loading up the car or waiting for the arrival of friends and family. We’ve put together some advice to make your season safer, less stressful, and more fun.
A snow covered road makes travel hazardous, especially when temperatures are at or just below 32 degrees. The snow can hide black ice, a nearly invisible hazard worsened by a layer of snow on top.
Tips for Safe and Worry-Free Holidays
Traveling by Car
Your car should be in top shape for a winter trip. Schedule maintenance with your dealer or auto shop. You want good antifreeze to keep the engine cool and the passenger compartment warm. Replace the battery if it is near the end of its life. Check all the lights including the hazards. It’s usually best to replace in pairs. If one has gone out, the other isn’t far behind. New windshield wipers, especially if yours are old, will keep the windshield clear of rain and snow. Keep extra washer fluid in the trunk with a scraper and brush, and your winter emergency kit.
Monitor the weather in the days leading up to your trip. Adjust your planned travel times to avoid bad weather. While you are traveling, refuel whenever the gauge drops below half. You’ll have plenty of fuel if you’re stranded and keeping the tank above half full helps preevnt the fuel line from freezing.
Tailor your car emergency kit for your family. The most important items are those that help you survive if you’re stranded. A blanket for each person in the car—small children might do better with a sleeping bag made for below freezing temperatures. Winter hats, mittens (warmer than gloves) and coats suitable for the climate. Don’t forget bottled water for everyone along with emergency foods like energy bars, hard candy, and dense, energy rich foods like nuts and dried fruits.
You should also carry jumper cables and know how to use them. A bag of salt, sand, or kitty litter for extra traction if you get stuck. A small shovel for clearing snow. Matches and one or two three-wick candles. They provide enough heat to raise the inside car temperature 10 to 15 degrees. Use the candle cautiously and don’t forget to crack the windows.
If you’re stranded and run the car to keep warm, make sure the exhaust pipe is clear. Crack the windows a half inch while the engine is running to prevent Carbon Monoxide Poisoning.
Whether you’re traveling for the holidays or staying home, be prepared for winter’s worst before it arrives.
Preparing Your Home
If you’re leaving for the holidays, follow these tips to make sure your home is safe while you’re gone and a warm, inviting place when you return.
Programmable thermostats are great for customizing the temperature while you’re at home, but when you’re away it doesn’t make sense to keep the house at 70 degrees. Temporarily set the temperature between 55 and 62 degrees. It will save fuel and keep the pipes from freezing. When you return it won’t take long to warm the house up to the usual temperature. Even better, install a thermostat you can control from your smart phone.
Everyone knows that light timers turn your lights on and off at pre-programmed times. It makes it appear that someone is home and thieves will look elsewhere. Programmable timers that vary the lights randomly are even better as no one will notice a pattern. Don’t forget to have your mail held at the post office and the newspaper stopped if you’ll be gone more than a few days.
Schedule maintenance on your home standby generator before you leave. Doing it at the same time as your annual furnace checkup is a good idea. If cold weather starts are a concern, consider installing cold weather accessories to help it start. If there’s a power outage while you’re gone, you won’t return to burst pipes and a flooded house.
Snow removal poses a risk to anyone not physically prepared for the task. Removing wet, heavy snow places a burden on your heart and lungs that can trigger a heart attack. Don’t shovel if you’re not in good shape. Get a snowblower or hire someone to do it for you.
No Travel Plans But…
Even if you’re not traveling, the tips above will help you through any emergency. Put together a home emergency kit, keep your generator tuned and ready, and your car prepared for winter weather. It’s always a good idea to have warm clothes and spare hats, mittens, and gloves in the car. Emergency kits are always there if you need them, but if you don’t take the time to make one, sooner or later you’ll wish for it.
Residents of states including Texas and Georgia, and all along the Gulf and East Coast found that winter can strike at anytime and leave people stranded or in the cold and dark at home for days at a time. Talk to your family about winter emergency plans. This is especially important for children who may come home from school and end up alone. They should know where to go and who to trust.
The holiday season is a time for families to get together. Plan for extra time even when traveling short distances. Take your time when driving to the mall or grocery store. Too many people in a rush is a recipe for an accident. Let guests know there’s plenty of time planned and a flexible meal time so no one feels undue pressure if they are running late.
From all of us at Norwall PowerSystems, enjoy a safe and happy holiday and a happy and safe New Year.
Updated December 26, 2022