How to Protect your Home in the Bitter Cold

As if the snow wasn’t enough, Old Man Winter has certainly made his presence known with the freezing temperatures and wind-chill that are currently overtaking the Collingwood region.  And while you may do a good job of bundling yourself and your kids up, have you considered your house? The cold temperatures and biting wind can be very damaging to your home, and it’s worth putting in some time to focus on protecting it from the nasty winter weather.

 

Focus on Insulation

Poor insulation within your house allows cold air to enter, creates drafty areas, and can lead to moisture from rain and snow getting inside. You can purchase new insulation strips to add around the outside of doors and windows and this will prevent drafty winds from blowing through, as well as reduce unwanted moisture from melting snow and condensation from seeping in. Furthermore, don’t be afraid to use expandable foam filler to seal any cracks, in your walls or foundation, especially those that lead to the outdoors. Finally, ensure all windows and doors have functioning locks on them, and use them during winter windstorms. This minimizes the risk of the windows and doors accidentally blowing open, allowing cold air and snow to enter your home and cause damage.

winter house in Collingwood

Focus on your Pipes

If you are at home and are regularly running water and using the pipes throughout your house, there is minimal risk of the pipes bursting or freezing. However, if you have pipes in an area of your house that is not well insulated and not used very often, or you go away during the winter, there may be a bigger risk of damage. In the area of the house which you don’t heat, or don’t use regularly, make it a habit to frequently turn on the tap and run water through the pipes. You may also want to turn on the thermostat occasionally to maintain a suitable room temperature. Likewise, if you are going out of town, program your thermostat to turn on if the temperature in the room drops below a certain value, or have someone stop in at your house and warm it up for you to protect your pipes.

 

Focus on the Exterior

While it is important to monitor the pipes and insulation on the inside, what is happening on the exterior of your house is critical as well.  Always try to clear snow from your walkway and steps to ensure it doesn’t build up and become icy and hazardous. If there is a particularly large amount of snow or ice, be mindful of rooftops and awnings and watch for signs of weakening due to weight, such as buckling, bending and cracking. If necessary, and it is safe, remove snow and ice from rooftops that you feel may be at risk, or which aren’t clearing up on their own.

 

Cold weather is the perfect time to curl up inside with a blanket, a book, and a hot cup of tea.  With these preventative tasks taken care of, you can relax without worrying about how the cold weather will affect your home, and instead just focus on trying to stay warm and enjoying the beauty of winter.

Tagged : / /

How to Prepare for Snow Days this Winter

With winter officially here, and the New Year upon us, it will soon be time to start back up at school for the 2018 year.  And with those two combined, comes the threat of snow days, stormy weather and school cancellations.  Take these steps over the holiday break to prepare for the impending snow days in the New Year and know what to do so that you can initiate your action plan at a moment’s notice.

Get the Information

The most important thing when it comes to a snow day is to be informed.  This means to check the weather forecast and its predicted severity, as well as to inform yourself about what is closed or cancelled.  The local radio station is a good place to do this, and they will likely have regularly updating reports, as well as weather forecasts.  School websites typically post when school is cancelled on their website, and for other businesses or locations, visit their website as well to see if it has been updated.  In addition, social media options, such as Facebook and Twitter are great ways to see up to the minute information.  Finally, for school bus cancellations, you can view the Simcoe County Bus Information website.

Do something fun

Instead of seeing snow days as a cause of stress, or an unexpected burden, look at them as a chance to have some fun or do some things that you wouldn’t regularly get to do on a typical Tuesday or Wednesday.  If you have young kids, and are able to take the day off work, this will give you an uninterrupted day together, where you can do crafts, play games, bake treats, or maybe even play out in the snow if the weather subsides later in the day.  To set you up for this, get a container and create the “Snow Day Basket.”  In it, you can put things like arts and crafts supplies, a deck of cards, or a few board games.  You can also have a similar basket in the pantry so that you’re ready for snow day baking.  Keep a stock of the staples such as flour, baking powder, sugar, and vanilla.

Find a babysitter

If you know that it will be difficult for you to stay home and look after the kids on snow days, put a plan in place for what you can do for alternative childcare options.  For example, if there is a neighbor who could come over, a relative, or maybe there is a local student who is free certain days of the week.  Whichever option you are choosing, get in contact with these people and put a plan in place so that when the snow day arrives it can simply be put into action and you just have to make a call.

 

While snow days may be inconvenient for parents, and a celebration for the kids, there’s a way to meet in the middle and keep everyone happy.  Do a little planning, reach out for support, and make this the year that you all get to enjoy snow days together.

Tagged : / /

Protecting Yourself Against Mosquitoes

While you may not recognize that summer is here because of the dreary weather, cooler temperatures and abundance of rain, it is definitely the middle of July. Unfortunately because of this weather, many cities and towns across Ontario are seeing a proliferation of the dreaded mosquito. The Simcoe Muskoka District Health Unit has released evidence that mosquitoes in Collingwood have tested positive for the West Nile virus this year. This doesn’t mean that Collingwood is seeing an outbreak of West Nile Virus, just that Collingwood, like other areas in Ontario, have a positive testing for the virus. While the majority of people won’t get sick if bitten by a West Nile infected mosquito, there are things you can do to protect yourself from getting bitten.

Mosquito Repellents

One of the best ways to protect yourself from mosquito bites during peak times (dusk and dawn) is to use a repellent. Consumer Reports did testing to determine the most effective mosquito repellents that deter mosquitoes from biting. Their testing found that natural repellents, like those made with plant oils were not very effective. Rather, the most effective ones were those that contained 15 to 30 percent deet, 20 percent picaridin or 30 percent OLE. Their recommended use is that you apply it on your clothes and only on exposed skin and applying to your face with your hands.

Find a breezy spot

If you are in a situation where you really don’t want to use repellant, but still want to keep the bugs away, consider a fan. Mosquitoes have a hard time flying in wind, so install a fan on your Collingwood deck or patio. Angle the fan down, as many mosquitoes fly close to the ground to avoid the wind.

Wear protective clothing

You definitely know that mosquitoes can bite you right through your clothes, but only certain ones. Clothing that has a tight weave, like high-tech athletic apparel or others made with synthetic fibers will be good to keep the mosquitoes out. On the other hand, cottons and linens are not enough to stop a bug from biting you through your pants or shirt. Mosquitoes are also attracted to dark clothing, so try to wear loose-fitting, light-coloured clothing.

Remove mosquito habitats

As a Collingwood homeowner, you have a duty to ensure mosquitoes don’t breed in your yard. Any standing water is the perfect spot for this to happen so ensure you remove standing water in:

·         Gutters

·         Old tires

·         Plastic covers

·         Containers

·         Toys

·         Bird baths

·         Fountains

·         Wading pools

·         Potted plant trays

If the water is flowing or moving, then you are good, like in your swimming pool or hot tub or a fountain that stays on.

What doesn’t work?

Bug lights, zappers, traps, citronella candles or torches, and mosquito plants have been studied and found to not be good prevention from mosquito bites.

 

 

Tagged : /