Prepare for severe cold, ice and snow
Prepare for cold, ice and snow
Snow and ice can make the area around your home incredibly dangerous. The Met Office advises immediate action for even the smallest of snowfalls. If left alone, that layer of snow on your driveway or pathway could later melt and refreeze, leaving a sheet of ice which is a serious slipping hazard – especially black ice!
Think about high traffic areas, such as the path to your front door, your driveway, and the pavement in front of your house. Think, if you use it regularly, clear it.
Be sure to check that you have some key essentials ready to go when needed. You may need to clear your driveway of snow or cope without power if snow brings down lines.
Torches and batteries are invaluable, whether you are at home or in the car and not forgetting winter wear, so consider investing in some suitable boots if you are regularly out and about.
Keep the heat in
Stay in control of your energy bills by ensuring no heat escapes through cracks and gaps.
Insulating your home is essential. Make sure that your loft has at least 10-11 inches (270 mm) of insulation. Any home with 4 inches (100 mm) or less should have it topped up.
You can also improve the warmth and reduce the bills by eliminating draughts. Fit draught proofing to seal any gaps around windows and doors.
Thick curtains drawn at dusk will help to contain the heat generated inside your rooms but make sure that your radiators are not obstructed by curtains or furniture, as this blocks warmth and stops heat from circulating.
Using radiator foil is another sensible way of retaining the heat generated. A significant amount of heat from a radiator is lost to the wall behind it.
Using specialist radiator foil, placed down the back of a radiator, will reflect heat back into a room rather than letting it escape through the walls of a house, or becoming absorbed into the wall.
This form of insulation is especially important on outside walls where any heat loss will simply escape outside.
Insulate water pipes
Pipes, particularly outdoor ones, can freeze or even burst in times of cold weather after a period of disuse.
To avoid burst pipes, check any water pipes that run close to outside walls, as well as pipes in unheated crawl spaces or garages where they will get cold, before the cold weather hits. These pipes are most at risk of freezing.
On the pipes inside your home, put some fiberglass insulation between the pipes and the walls to help keep them warm and prevent freezing.
Pipes running through unheated spaces and outdoor areas should also be covered with insulation. Preformed pipe sleeve insulation shaped to go right around a copper water pipe is a great inexpensive option.
Add extra protection to external piping by insulating your outdoor tap at the same time as your pipes - quick and easy to install and remove, it prevents freezing and weather damage.
If you need heat fast but want to save energy, portable heaters are the smart option.
They warm up quickly, and save both cash and energy as you can heat specific rooms rather than the whole house.
Cold weather, particularly frost, causes the water in plant cells to freeze, damaging the cell wall. These cold snaps can also kill blossom and damage fruit.
Even hardy plants and tough evergreens can also be damaged by prolonged spells of severe cold when soil becomes frozen.
To keep plants happy, insulate any outdoor pots staying out with winter jackets - a cloche is ideal for the job, otherwise garden fleece or bubble wrap works well.
If you need to protect your plants from a small number of especially cold nights, a simple shelter such as an old blanket or tarpaulin may be enough. Take it off during the day so that the plants can get light and air. You may need to weigh or tie down the cloche so that it doesn't blow away. Bring any delicate plants inside, and once inside reduce watering to match plant requirements.
On the road
Snow and ice can be particularly treacherous if you are driving. Many motorists are unprepared and get caught short away from home in freezing conditions.
Adding a few essentials to the car is a sensible way to prepare for winter driving:
- An ice scraper
- Jump leads or a battery charger
- A snow shovel
- Traction mats
- A torch
- Travel blankets
- A fully-charged mobile phone
- Warm clothing, drinks and snacks
Find out more about preparing your car for winter driving.