Q: I suddenly find myself widowed and responsible for all the household chores my husband always handled. I am totally out of my element and need some direction about getting my home ready for winter. What should I be doing?
A: Every homeowner would be wise to take a few precautions before the cold weather season is upon us. In this part of the country we always run the risk of severe snowstorms which can present problems for everyone. It is best to be prepared and avoid emergencies. Here are a few helpful hints.
Home heating systems: On a yearly basis, schedule a tune-up for your furnace to make sure everything is in good working order. Ideally this should be done before temperatures drop. If your home has a fireplace or wood stove the chimney should be cleaned and inspected on an annual basis. Test carbon monoxide detectors to insure they are working correctly.
Fuel levels: Avert panic mode by keeping a close eye on fuel levels, avoiding an empty tank during a cold spell. Consider arranging for oil to be delivered on a routine basis as opposed to calling when you need oil.
Plumbing: The water valve to outside faucets should be shut off to help prevent pipes in your home from freezing. Remember to disconnect and put away garden hoses during the winter. Covers can be purchased that easily slip over outside faucets to provide additional insulation. Wrap your water heater with an insulated jacket if the area is extremely cold.
Windows and doors: Install insulation around drafty doors and windows to cut down on heat loss. Storm windows should be put up if your windows are not energy efficient. You might also consider hanging heavier curtains during the winter months.
Gutters should be checked to make sure they are clear and will drain properly. Have the outside of the house examined for repairs that should be taken care if to prevent ice or water damage. Replace roof shingles that are missing or damaged.
It may not be reasonable to do all of these tasks on your own. Enlist friends, family or neighbors to assist you if available. Call your local Council on Aging or Area Aging on Aging for a list of volunteer groups or a handyman who offers reasonable rates.
Winter presents challenges for all of us. With some advance planning you can take steps to stay warm until better weather arrives in the spring.
Do you have a question? We encourage inquiries and comments from our readers. Direct correspondence to firstname.lastname@example.org or Elder Services of the Merrimack Valley, Inc. 360 Merrimack Street B#5, Lawrence, MA 01843. Rosanne DiStefano is the Executive Director of Elder Services of the Merrimack Valley, Inc. For additional information or to schedule an appointment call 1-800-892-0890.