As we get ever closer to our annual rendezvous with Old Man Winter, we human beings are sort of biologically, as well as psychologically, wired to batten down the hatches, so to speak. For many of us, we go into full “prep” mode, striving to stock up on everything and anything. This isn't a bad idea, provided you don't go overboard with it and miss a mortgage payment because you couldn't resist buying three pallets of toilet paper, even if the price was absolutely stellar.
For those new to prepping, what follows is a short list of chores you might consider adding to your To Do list before winter hits. For the more experienced among you, consider these reminders to ensure they get done properly.
Fall Prepping Chore #1: Stock Up on Firewood
If you have a fireplace or wood stove, lay in a good supply of seasoned firewood. While a couple cords of split logs are great, don't forget the smaller stuff for kindling.
Several years ago, I built a small cubby in our attached garage where we can store enough firewood to last a few days at a time. It is an unheated garage and the cubby is on the opposite side from the house, so I'm not overly concerned about bugs getting into the home from the wood.
We also have a lawn cart that we'll fill with kindling and wood scraps. I don't know about you, but I've found strips of thick bark are awesome for kindling. I'm to the point now where I'll often strip off bark from logs before bringing them into the house, setting the bark aside for kindling for future fires.
Fall Prepping Chore #2: Turn Off Spigots
Turn off and cover all outdoor spigots. Pipes bursting due to ice is never a good thing. Head to your local hardware store and spend the buck or two on foam covers for the spigots. If you have a shut off valve inside the home for those faucets, turn them off and drain the water that remains in the line.
Fall Prepping Chore #3: Insulate
Install weatherstripping and insulation as needed around all doors and windows. Older homes in particular can be very drafty. In an emergency, when the furnace isn't pumping out warm air, you want to prevent cold air coming in as much as possible.
Fall Prepping Chore #4: Check Cold Weather Gear
Check all snow shovels and other snow removal equipment and repair or replace as needed. When there is a foot of snow on the ground is not the time to remember your snow shovel broke last year and you never got around to buying a new one. While you're at it, pick up a bag or two of salt or sand.
Fall Prepping Chore #5: Cover Outdoor Furniture
Store or cover your patio furniture and grills. Melting snow will rust grill burners. I learned that the hard way. If something were to happen that would necessitate using the grill in place of your stove top, it would be easy enough to wheel it out of the garage or uncover it.
Fall Prepping Chore #6: Clean Gutters
Clear all gutters of leaves and debris. Gutters freezing up leads to ice dams along the roof overhang, which is a costly repair.
Fall Prepping Chore #7: Review Cold Weather Clothes
Go through your winter outerwear (coats, snow pants, boots, etc.) and inspect each item. Repair or replace anything that isn't in good condition. Make sure everything still fits, too.
Fall Prepping Chore #8: Take Advantage of Grocery Deals
Stock up on staples. As we approach the holidays, you'll notice many grocery stores put certain items on sale at very low prices. I'm talking about things like baking ingredients (flour, sugar, butter, mixes) as well as hams and turkeys. If you have room to store these things, stock up when the prices are low.
Fall Prepping Chore #9: Check Vehicle Emergency Kits
Inspect all vehicle emergency kits. Replace anything you've used up through the year, rotate food and water supplies. Be sure you have a good ice scraper in the car, too.
Fall Prepping Chore #10: Stock Up on Entertainment
If you don't have it already, get yourself a DVD copy of A Charlie Brown Christmas. Seriously, this is, hands down, the best Christmas special to ever air on TV. Don't count on being able to remember to tune in when it airs this year.