Preparing to Take Off for Winter HolidaysDecember 17th 2009
During the holiday season many Canadians will pack their bags to celebrate the holidays with family and friends. If you're planning a trip over the holidays, especially during the winter months, it is important to make sure both your home and vehicle are prepared to ensure a safe and care free holiday. By following these simple steps you can protect your home and prevent costly damage from occurring in the event of prolonged periods of freezing temperatures, and of course fire or theft.
Before you leave...
1. Check all water sources - Turn off your faucets throughout the home. Check drains to make sure they are open and ready to drain if necessary. Turn off the water supply valve on your toilet and water lines to your washing machine. Drain exterior water pipes and any pipes that run through unheated areas (such as a garage, crawlspace or unheated porch). If draining these pipes isn't possible, wrap them with foam insulation or heat tape.
2. Check your thermostats - Make sure your thermostats are turned down, but not completely off. A good temperature to keep your thermostats set to is around 17 to 19 degrees celsius. This helps prevent your water lines from freezing during winter months, and prolonged absences.
3. Unplug electrical appliances and computers (but not the refrigerator). Power outages and/or power surges may cause undue stress on any electric equipment, and it saves on your electrical bill by not keeping these appliances plugged in.
4. Smoke and CO alarms - make sure your Carbon Monoxide and Smoke Alarms have fresh batteries, and are at less than 5 years old, as after 5 years the elements within the alarms can lose their sensitivity and the entire unit should be replaced.
5. Roof gutters - should be cleaned every fall after leaves have fallen from the trees. This will prevent freezing mass in gutters and opening the seams to leaks.
6. Hot water heaters - You may wish to turn the circuit breaker off to your hot water heater to save energy.
7. Pools and Hot Tubs - must have heat or circulation pumps running to prevent freezing.
8. Remove all freezable products -(i.e. Latex paint) from cold areas and store in warm place away from open flame.
9. Outside flower pots -(unless frost free) should be moved to warm areas to prevent frost cracking.
10. Leave interior doors open - for warm air to displaced into cold areas to prevent plaster and drywall cracks.
11. Neighbors - let a trusted neighbor know when you'll be away and give them a set of your house keys allowing them to check in on your place from time to time to water plants or pick up any stray newspapers or mail.
12. Relative Humidity - moisture levels must be controlled within the home to stop flooring from shrinking and squeaking and fine furniture from coming loose at the joints. The following is recommended.
Outside Air Temperature Inside Humidity Setting Summer Temperature 50%
- 0 to -12oC 40%
-12 to -18 o C 35%
-19 to -24 o C 25%
-25 to -30 o C 20%
-31 or below 15%
On the Roads...
By taking some simple steps, Canadians can improve safety on the roads to make winter road trips as enjoyable as possible.
- Think Safety when driving this winter. Cold temperatures, slippery roads, and decreased visibility make driving in winter conditions challenging. Canadian drivers can be prepared for winter driving conditions by following a few simple tips.
- Slow down - Black ice, slush or snow covered roads can make stopping dangerous. Drive slowly and leave plenty of distance between vehicles.
- Proper tires - Traction is the key to good movement, turning and stopping on wet, slushy or icy surfaces. Check tires and tire pressure at least once a month when tires are cold and remember that tire air pressure decreases in colder weather. Winter tires provide additional traction in colder weather.
- Windshield wipers and fluid - Fill up on winter washer fluid and replace wiper blades that streak. Make sure there is enough windshield washer fluid in the reservoir and that it is rated in the -40C temperature range. Carry an extra jug in the vehicle.
- Keep the gas tank topped up - When driving in bad weather, think caution, plan ahead and make sure you have enough fuel. Keep the fuel tank at least half full.
- See and be seen - clear all snow from the hood, roof, windows and lights. Clear all windows of fog. If visibility becomes poor, find a place to safely pull off the road as soon as possible.
- Carry emergency equipment - Have the appropriate safety and emergency winter equipment always stored in your car. This should include: shovel, extra warm clothes, blanket, booster cables, ice scraper & brush, first aid kit, flashlight & flares, food, candle & matches.
- Check weather and road conditions along your route before travelling.
Bring a cell phone for emergency purposes but respect local laws on usage while driving.
Keep the following items in your trunk.
- sand or kitty litter
- traction mats
- tow chain
- cloth or roll of paper towels
- warning light or road flares
- extra clothing and footwear
- emergency food pack
- booster cables
- matches and a "survival" candle in a deep can (to warm hands, heat a drink or use as an emergency light)
- fire extinguisher
- extra windshield washer fluid
- fuel line antifreeze
- reflective vest
Keep the following items inside your vehicle.
- road maps
- ice scraper and brush
- first aid kit
- blanket (special "survival" blankets are best)
Have A Safe and happy Holiday