Preparing for Winter

Preparing for winter when you're a senior or approaching that time of your life entails a bit more planning than when we were 22 and invincible.  Winter isn't yet snarling and slashing the windows with sleet but it's lurking close by. It's 40 degrees outside this morning and 32 up in Pullman and Moscow.  It won't be long.... A couple of thoughts on winter preparation for those of us not invincible.

Servicing the Furnace

It time.  You should be servicing the furnace at the beginning of every winter before the worst of the weather gets here.  If I've learned anything in a half century, it is that Murphy's Law is the true controlling force of the universe.

If you don't get it serviced and it fails, it will do it at the worst possible time - the day before Thanksgiving or Christmas or during a blizzard.  So, call up your heating company, have them tune it up for the winter and swap the filters so you have a clean one headed into the closed house season.

Arrange for Snow Removal

If you are no longer able to shovel your own sidewalks and steps, get help.  Set it up ahead of time so that when it snows, you're not calling the same person that 47 other people are calling.  Somebody isn't going to get helped if they wait.  Don't let it be you.  Preparing for winter means not waiting until the last second.

By the way, this doesn't have to be a paid service.  I shovel the walkway for Darlene, my neighbor two houses down, every year.  We don't get much snow and I am still pretty fit so it's a task that doesn't overwhelm me.  Talk to your neighbors and your church - see if they would be willing to lend a hand.

Stock Up on Supplies

Earlier this year, large parts of India suffered huge power outages.  The Indians were used to having power outages and were prepared.  We're not nearly so use to outages but we can expect far more of them than in the past.  When the outages hit the East Coast this summer, they were devastating.

Our power transmission system was built in the fifties and sixties.  It's getting old in many places and we haven't done some of the upgrading that would "harden" the power grid and protect it.  It's vulnerable to everything from winter weather to solar flares.  Add to that, we are losing a huge amount of power generation due to EPA regulations and we can expect more outages.

Have extra food on hand that doesn't need to be cooked.  Have a second source of heat in your home.  If you are relying exclusively on electricity, you have the potential to be left shivering in the cold.  As always, you should have extra batteries, working flashlights, a safe supply of all your medications (enough to last at least a week). Preparing for winter means preparing for the unexpected.

Check In

Have a time and day set up to check in with friends or family especially if you are living alone.  If you need to, set up with a service that will check in with you.  Let people know that you are okay.  It won't just potentially save you in an emergency - it will give your loved ones a small measure of peace of mind.  It's hard to admit that we may need a bit of looking after but we all do, to one degree or another.

Do the little things now to make this winter easier to manage.  It wouldn't hurt to hope for an early spring....