Wednesday 26 September 2012

Preparing for Winter - How to Prepare for the Cold Weather

I know that the leaves on the trees have only just begun to reveal their autumnal colours, but in the true girl guiding fashion of being prepared, now is a great time to start preparing for the winter months ahead.

With the arrival of the cold weather, and occasions such as Bonfire Night, and dare I say Christmas! on the horizon (are you as excited as I am!), now is the perfect opportunity to prepare yourself for the forthcoming season - before the clocks change on the 28th of October and darkness sets in before tea time!

What would I need to prepare? I hear you say... Well I felt like that a few years ago, but once my kids arrived, I realised that I had to be a bit more prepared in case we ever got snowed in (which we did), or we were caught on a long car journey in the cold weather (which we were). I also realised that it's essential to have all of the winter clothes and goods that you may need in advance, otherwise you often find that the shops have sold out by the time you realise your two year old needs some warmer pyjamas, or that your four year old needs new gloves and a hat, or that your snow boots are now letting in water and freezing your feet and it's minus 5 outside!

This may seem a bit extremist, but some of these things have really helped me through the last few winter's. I remember on snowy days when the schools were closed, we were able to salt the path and dig hubby's car out so that he could still get to work (the employers don't believe in snow days!). Other days, we raided the emergency winter supplies and made our own bread and ate canned soup so that we had something warm and hearty to eat.

As none of us can really predict what kind of winter we will have, it's a good idea to ensure that you, and your house are prepared, and that you have all you need for the months ahead. Inspired by threads on "The Fly Lady" and "NetMums", I thought I would put together a list of suggestions for things that you can do to get your family, and your house ready for the cold weather and the winter season ahead.

There is a lot here and some of it may not apply to you, but if you pick and choose a few things to do each week, by the time winter comes, you will be ready for whatever the season throws at you. - Guess what we'll be doing this weekend!!

I am sure that this list is not extensive, so I would love to hear: What do you do to prepare for Winter?

A Checklist for Preparing for Winter:

Outside the House
  • Cut the Grass in preparation for winter. One more mow before the frost comes will stop your grass becoming too unruly over the winter.
  • Clean Patio Furniture and kids outside toys in preparation to be put away.
  • Sort out the Shed. - Before putting away the patio furniture! You don't want to have to go trekking in there for something in the middle of winter, only to find you have to climb over all the summer stuff first. Put summer things to the back and bring winter essentials to the front.
  • Cover Up Outside Structures - such as BBQ's or any other hard standing features.
  • Drain and Store Garden Hoses to prevent them being iced up and splitting in cold weather.
  • Check your Gutters - you don't want them collapsing under the weight of ice and snow!
  • Inspect your Doors and Windows - make sure that they are well sealed in preparation for the cold weather.
  • Clean out Chimneys and Flues.

Inside The House
  • Have your Boiler Serviced - servicing it now will hopefully avoid it breaking down during the winter.
  • Wash and Dry all Bedding Swap summer and winter bedding and duvets over.
  • Bring Winter Clothes to the front of your wardrobe, or pack summer things away.
  • Have your Carpets Cleaned whilst you can still get then dry during September/October.
  • Prepare the Kitchen for winter/holiday cooking - Clean and organise cupboards and cooking equipment, clear kitchen counters of any appliances or clutter you don't need, so you have more room for cooking.
  • Defrost the Freezer ready for batch cooking and Christmas food
  • Invest in Waterproof Mats for your entrance hall - It saves the carpets being ruined in winter.
  • Empty your Vacuum - How often do you do this?

Tasks to Do to Prepare for Winter

Stock up on Salt, Grit and Snow Shovels NOW
Salt and Grit are essential for paths in the winter, It saves trekking out in the snow to buy them & finding everyone else had the same idea and there are none left.

Stock up on Essentials - Nappies, wipes, toilet roll - whatever you use every day, Also buying UHT milk and bread flour/bread mix can save the day if you are unable to get to the shops as regularly, as can non heating/refrigerated foods such as tins of fruit, or cereals.

Warming Foods for Winter
Stock up on tins of beans and soup (or make your own and freeze it) so that you have it as an emergency winter meal. Casseroles or Stews are also fab in the winter and freeze well. Keep an emergency supply of soup and maybe even a tin of something like hot dogs in case you cannot get out of the house and the kids need a quick meal.

Stock up on Medicines- With all of the bugs that go around during winter, making sure you have the essentials in now can avoid unnecessary trips to the shops. Our cupboard typically includes Ibuprofen tablets, Paractemol tablets, Calpol kids medicine, Nurofen kids medicine, Beechams All in One cold and flu medicine for adults (amazing!), cold and flu sachets for adults, kids/adults cough medicine, cough sweets,  vicks vapour rub, olbas oil, plasters, tissues, and arnica cream, tea tree oil/lavender oil for bumps and scrapes. Poundland is good for stocking up on these essentials.

Buy or Dig out Winter Clothes - Fleecy pyjamas and socks, dressing gowns, slippers and thermals, are all a must for cold days.

Check your wellies, gloves, scarves, hats and waterproof jackets/warm winter coats - make sure you have everything that you need before the season starts.

Invest in a Warm Throw - Great for keeping you warm on the sofa on a cold night.

Find Cheap Fleece Blankets - Fleece blankets are great for using to block draughts or hanging behind your front door to preserve warmth. Thermal Door Curtains will also help keep heat in the house, as will stuffing old pairs of tights with toy stuffing or socks, and placing them at the bottom of your main doors.

Dig out Hot Water Bottles - to warm cold beds, or hug to keep you warm.

Have Candles, Matches and Torches close by in case of a power outage. 

Start saving £5 per week for extra Gas or Electric (especially if you have a meter) so that you have enough to heat your house through the winter. Also, stock up on Wood or Oil if you use these to heat your home. 

Snowgrips such as Wintertrax on your shoes can stop you from slipping, especially if you have to walk a lot during the winter.

Buy a Sledge - you can likely pick them up cheaper on Ebay now than in winter and they are great for transporting the kids and goods in winter months.

Dig out Footmuffs/Blankets/Waterproofs for your buggy if you have one.

Stock up on Essentials for your Car - For peace of mind, get winter essentials now, such as: Antifreeze, Ice scraper, De-icer etc. Carry fleece blankets in the car in case you break down, along with a torch and a couple of non-perishable snacks and bottles of water in case you find yourself stuck in traffic due to bad weather.  Invest in snowsocks for your car if you live somewhere that requires them. Check your tires to ensure they are well-inflated. Keep a shovel in your car in case you are snowed in at work, or somewhere away from home and need to use your car to get home. For extra preparedness, carry a backpack in your car for each person travelling with an emergency set of clothes, with a warm jumper, gloves scarf, hat, and snow boots in, along with some non-perishable snacks, a bottle of water, and some spare money. This can be essential if you have to abandon your car for the night.

Don't Forget Your Pets - make sure you have enough pet food in and anything else your pet may need in the in winter months.

As well as remembering to be prepared for winter, it costs more to heat the house in the winter, so here are some things that we do to save money in the winter months,

Some tips for saving money on heat in winter:
  • To save money, we typically delay putting the heating on as long as possible, and we will just add more layers to keep warm.
  • When you have finished cooking, leave the oven/grill/kitchen door open as this will release the heat into the rest of the house rather than just storing it in the oven.
  • Use electrical heaters in the rooms you are in, rather than having the heating on, heating the house all day.
  • Set the heating on a timer to come on during the times you are in the house. There is no point in heating the house all day if no one is in it.
I hope you have found these suggestions for saving money on heat and preparing for winter helpful. I would love to hear from you if you have!

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