648097christmas_comfort_stockings_holiday_presents_tree_fireplace_background_wallpaper_imagepWinter 2014 in Delaware County was memorable to say the least. The Philadelphia area saw quite a bit of snow later into spring than normal, and the temperatures dropped rapidly on several occasions. I answered several calls for chimney problems throughout the season, and I repaired quite a few damaged chimneys throughout the summer this year. Now it’s August and homeowners are preparing for another Philadelphia winter. Let’s hope this one doesn’t drop several feet of snow at once. But who are we kidding, right? Here are several things to keep in mind when preparing your home for winter 2015.

Prepare Your Chimney

Don’t let your chimney be one of those out of sight, out of mind things. Proper maintenance is extremely important in the life expectancy of your chimney. Don’t take a risk on structural damage, water damage, or creosote buildup from year to year. Operating a damaged chimney can be hazardous to the structure of your home as well as hazardous to the health and wellbeing of your family and pets.

Creosote buildup is only one of the issues to keep in mind before you build your first fire this fall. Any damages must be repaired, all debris must be removed, and a full inspection performed to ensure the safety of your chimney for the coming season. Schedule your cleaning and annual inspection at the same time so you get it all taken care of simultaneously.

Replace the Batteries in Your Smoke Alarm and Carbon Monoxide Detectors

Operational smoke alarms and carbon monoxide detectors are an absolute must, especially if you have a fireplace or a wood burning stove. Replace the batteries at least once per year. Ensure proper placement of both types of detectors for optimal performance.

Inspect Your Fire Extinguishers

Every home should be equipped with fire extinguishers, and every person in the home should know how to use one. Make sure that everyone who lives in your home, or visits frequently, knows where the fire extinguishers are and how to safely operate them.

Emergency Kits

The snowstorms that blew through in 2009 still weigh heavily on a lot of homeowners’ minds. Many experienced roof damage, chimney damages, and went without power for two to three weeks. We never know when we may see similar storms, so make sure you’re ready this winter, just in case.

Your emergency kit should consist of:

  • Road salt or cat litter
  • A shovel
  • Enough non-perishable food to last for several days
  • Enough water to last for several days
  • Pet supplies as needed
  • Several extra warm blankets
  • Gloves, warm hats, and warm footwear
  • Cash for incidentals in case ATMs are down and card readers don’t work
  • Medications
  • First-Aid supplies
  • A generator with a good supply of gasoline
  • Keep your car at least half full of gas all winter
  • Flashlights
  • Battery-powered radio
  • Ample batteries for flashlights and the radio
  • Cell phone charger that you can use in your car
  • A big supply of dry wood for your wood burning stove or fireplace
  • A large box of matches to start a fire

The best way to make it through another Philadelphia winter is to be fully prepared for the worst. We may have a very mild winter this winter, but make sure you’re prepared, just in case.

Do you have any wintertime survival tips you’d like to share? What important information did you learn over the last few hard winters? I’d love to hear your stories. Please share in the comments section or email me any time.