What items should be winterized?
You need to be prepared for winter
You should winterize yourself. Stock up on tissues, you'll need them. Raise your immune system with vitamin C, Echinacea and Golden seal. Pull out all those winter clothes and wash them so they are fresh when you wear them. Begin using a strong moisturizer after you shower or bathe, examples are items with lanolin and aloe. Use moisturizer before you go to bed and after a long stint in the cold. Stock up on lip balm and make sure you always have some with you. Eat healthy to prevent colds and the flu from sneaking up on you.
You should winterize your car. Get the oil changed. Check the anti-freeze to be sure it is still good (change if needed). Check your tires, will they get good traction on ice and snow? Replace if needed. Check your windshield washer fluid and fill with one that will melt ice when you use it (this practice is not approved by some manufacturers or mechanic so be sure to check). Check your windshield wipers and replace if needed. Check your brake, transmission and steering fluid levels. Pull those ice scrapers and brushes out of the moth balls and get them in the car (a credit card will only work for so long). Put a collapsible shovel in your car in case you get stuck and keep kitty litter and salt in your car for emergencies (in a seal-able container so your trunk is not damaged). Always have a blanket or two handy, as well.
You may not think of this one...
Winterize your yard decorations and toys. Put those little plastic wagons, trucks, and toy boxes (and anything else you might have that's plastic) in a dry protected area to keep them from breaking in the cold. Put the hose away, it might freeze and crack if you leave water in it, so make sure it's drained. Put away those lawn chairs and tables, leaving them out might cause them to rust. Put away the umbrella you used for shade. Just putting it down may not be enough when those winter winds start blowing. Put away the porch swing cushions. Put away the rake, hoe, and other garden implements so you can find them next year. Put away the electronic tools like the lawnmower and pull out the snow blower. Put the bikes away where they won't rust. Cover the grill and put it securely against something if you can't put it away. Put away anything that can't stand the weight of snow or the intense cold from a winter storm. Although this is common sense, be sure that you have pulled the Holiday decorations to the front so that you can easily reach them when needed.
The plants that you have that were so beautiful during spring and summer...
Winterize your potted plants. If you have potted plants, they really shouldn't be out in the winter weather. If they can be dried for the next year, pull the roots out of the dirt and shake as much of the dirt as possible off. Place uncovered in a cool, dry, dark area like your basement and make sure they are left alone until spring. If they can't be dried, bring them into the house for the winter. NOTE: animals (and kids) eat many of the plants that come into the house so be careful to keep them up high especially if they are poisonous. If you can't dry them, and you can't bring them in for the winter, then I suggest you dump the pot in an out-of-the way area of your yard, dirt and all. The plant may surprise you and come up next year. Just another thought**or you can just bring the potted plant into the basement where you put the pulled plants. They might grow next year.
Stock up on non-perishable items
Winterize your pantry. That's right, the pantry. Fill it with dry pasta, soup mixes, soup fixings, canned soups, canned spaghetti, anything that can be eaten hot to warm the insides (and can be eaten should you get stuck inside because of a storm). Be sure to have all the necessities for baking because baking is a wonderful way to pass a cold winter day. And above all, don't forget the cocoa! There is nothing better than to come home on a cold winter day and eat a hot bowl of soup and drink a hot cup of cocoa. If you keep frozen bread dough in the freezer, you can make fresh hot bread to go along with the soup.
Also check out the paper stock**toilet tissue, facial tissue, paper towels, paper plates and plastic silverware. If you get snowed in you might be happy for those little items you packed away just in case.
Your house will need some work as well
Winterize the house. Cover the windows with plastic. Line the doors with fresh material so they close tightly. Put a rug against the bottom of the door to prevent drafts. Cover and seal any air conditioners that you can't pull out of the windows. Put foam insulation on your plug outlets and light switches, especially the ones on the outside walls. Put insulation on your piping that is close to the ground or outside walls. Wrap your hot water heater with insulation to use less electricity and have it serviced to ensure it's working right. Get your chimney(s) cleaned and have your furnace cleaned and serviced. Fill your oil tank if you use oil (or kerosene if you use that). If you have a fireplace, check for blockages and stock up on wood (put the wood or at least a wood pile close to the door so you don't have to go far to get it). Put up heavy curtains to keep out the cold air. Vacuum the heater vents to remove dust and dirt that may have accumulated over the summer. Move everything away from heaters to prevent damage or fire.
Another great idea for the house is to pull out the slow cooker. There is nothing better than a slow cooked meal when you get home from work. The slow cooker is a life saver when you can't be home to cook.
Finally, winterize your thoughts.
So many times we feel trapped when the cold weather hits. We can't just go outside because we have to get on coats and boots. It's not as easy to go out to the store because the roads might be bad. It's usually too cold to take a walk or play with the kids in the park. Snow might block the shed where the shovels are kept. Cold wind might make it too cold to sit outside. So winterize your thoughts. Cold can be fun.
Pull out the little electric fireplace and have a game night in front of it with popcorn and hot cocoa. Think of the shoveling as great exercise. Think of the snowy roads as an excuse to build a snowman in the yard with the kids, or go sledding or ice skating. Think of the cold nights as a good time to cuddle up with the one you love. Spice up apple cider and enjoy hot cider and a good movie. Roast marshmallows in the fire place. Make handmade decorations for the holidays. Bake, either for fun or for gifts. Just sit in a window and watch the snow fall. And smile, because the cold won't last forever!
© 2011 Cheryl Simonds