- It’s been a wild year for weather, and the changing of seasons suggests it’s not letting up any time soon. Here are some ways to prepare for whatever may accompany the cooler autumn temperatures.
Know your risk. No matter what natural disaster may be looming, preparation is the best defense.
Stay informed. Keep up news on active storms, forecasts and the latest warnings and advisories using:
• Air Now
• Create an emergency plan Create an evacuation plan and make sure to include contingencies assigning a location where household members can meet in the case of an emergency. An emergency kit should be prepared should power or water be lost as well as a go bag in case evacuation is necessary.
• Get ready to spend more time indoors. Prepare homes for more time spend indoors by changing out air filters, having furnaces serviced, cleaning out chimneys and reversing direction on ceiling fans. Changing the direction a fan's spin can better circulate heat and help keep energy costs lower.
• Shore up the outside of your home. Check all exterior drainage, including gutters and drainage around a home's foundation. Make sure gutters are free of blockages and that water is draining away from the foundation and not pooling or running into window wells. This can prevent flooding and other damage.
Here's a checklist of some home maintenance tasks and safety measures from the experts at Safewise:
Tidy the kitchen
Clean and check range hood fan - The range hood funnels odors and smoke out of the home, and a dirty fan isn’t just unsightly—it’s dangerous. Wipe it down and ensure it’s functional to avoid fire hazards in the kitchen. Plus, a clean kitchen can help improve air quality in the home.
Scrub out microwave
Pro tip: Put a bowl of water in the microwave and warm it for about a minute. The steam will make it easier to scrub off all those caked-on leftovers.
Clean under the sink
Toss any expired products, old sponges or rags and wipe down the area to prevent mold. Experts also recommend checking the pipes for any leaks or clogs.
Tighten and lubricate hinges on the fridge
Create a safety plan for natural disasters
- Sit down with the entire household and create an evacuation plan and gather supplies into an emergency kit for the home.
- Check out our emergency kit guide to learn how to assemble one in your home.
Fix up bedrooms and living areas:
- Install or replace outlet covers
- Keep outlets covered and safe from little fingers is essential.
- Get fireplaces professionally checked and cleaned
If you have a fireplace in the home, find a professional chimney sweep service for cleaning and inspection. A clean hearth and fireplace can reduce fire hazards and keep the air clean inside.
- Check and replace weather stripping around doors and windows
- Keep the cold out and the heat in by making sure weather stripping hasn’t slipped out of place around windows and doors.
- Replace any worn caulking that leaves gaps, otherwise wind whistling will be heard.
- Replace doors if needed.
Clean ceiling fans, light fixtures, and vents
- Give lights, fans and vents a good dusting before circulating the heat for this first time this season to avoid spreading dust mites.
Change direction of ceiling fan for winter
- Once the weather starts to cool, change the direction fans spin to circulate heat in winter. Refer to the fan's manufacturer’s directions for guidance.
Get ready for the season change
- Don't wait for fall and winter to check heating systems. Check with local professionals for annual inspections between seasons for help identifying current cooling issues in the home and help prepare for the cold months to come.
Store summer items, replace with fall items
- While uncovering fall and winter gear, sort out the old and unused items to cut down on the clutter. Create "keep, donate or trash" piles to stay organized.
Get ready for hurricane season
- Check out the Safewise guide of ways to keep your home safe during a hurricane.
- Mildew, hard-water buildup and age can deteriorate the caulking around tubs, so be ready to replace it to keep things looking fresh and safely sealed.
Consider non-slip surfaces
- Add a grippy mat to bathtubs and replace any rug that slides around to prevent falls.
Take on small tasks
- Dust stair handrails
- Test the smoke, fire and carbon monoxide detectors; put in fresh batteries; consider replacing for newer, smarter models that can alert homeowners of danger when away from the home.
- Clean up the outdoors
- Drain and winterize outside irrigation
- Turn off and cover air conditioning unit
- Power air conditioning units down and cover to protect it from the winter elements.
- Install storm windows
- Rake leaves and dispose of mulch
- Prune plants and trees
- Inspect roof
- Organize the garage for winter and fall
- Conduct any seasonal maintenance before putting the lawn mower away such as removing the fuel and other components.
- Fertilize lawn
- Clean gutters
- Drain and store garden hoses
- Touch up exterior paint