Winter has arrived in full force, leaving your neighborhood covered in a blanket of snow and your house or apartment chilly. Take care of these hings in order to thrive this winter rather than fight through it. Before you dread the months to come, devise a plan to protect your home and belongings from the weather.

1. Be Aware of Local Parking During a Snow Storm

Whether you live in an apartment, have guests over frequently or park on side streets when you take the train, you need to be aware of the parking laws in your town. Some municipalities have rules that state you cannot park on certain streets when the snow is a certain number of inches high. Pay attention to which days you have to move your car so the plow can get through by reading posted signs. This will help you avoid getting a parking ticket. Let visitors know which streets are OK for parking during crummy weather.

2. Install a Freeze Sensor in Your Basement

Temperatures can drop below freezing during the winter months, especially if you live in chilly climates. Your pipes are in danger of freezing and bursting when it’s cold out, which can cause a lot of costly damage to your home. Prevent this from happening by covering the pipes in insulation, filling any cracks and gaps in your home’s exterior walls, keeping your thermostat set high and filling the walls of your home with insulation. Don’t forget about basement walls, as this lower region of your home is especially cold.

Even if you’ve taken measures to keep the pipes in your house above freezing, they may still freeze and burst. This can be incredibly costly to repair, as water will overflow and damage your walls, carpet and more. Fortunately, you can monitor your pipes using a freeze sensor. As part of your home alarm monitoring system, the sensor will notify the monitoring center when the temperature of your home drops below 45 degrees. The center will then alert you so that you can quickly increase the thermostat setting and avoid burst pipes. Do not place the sensor near furnaces, fireplaces or vents as these will interfere with the sensor’s readings.

3. Keep Emergency Supplies on Hand

Store a shovel in an easy to reach spot so that you can dig your way out of the snow. If it’s in the shed in the back yard, you may end up trekking through several feet of snow to get to it. By keeping it right inside the garage, you’ll have the shovel when you need it. Similarly, place an ice scraper in each of your vehicles so you can wipe off your windshield after a winter storm. A small shovel can be kept in your car as well should you need to remove some snow around the tires in order to move.

Your pantry should be stocked during winter. If you’re ever snowed in or if grocery stores close, you need to have food to eat. Canned goods are perfect because they won’t perish in a power outage. Water is also important to have stored.

4. Make Your Residence Air Tight

Cold air can leak into your home through cracks and window frames, decreasing the temperature of your home. As cool air comes in, your furnace has to work harder. This causes you to pay more for your already high energy bills. Check the frames of your windows and doors for any visible cracks and fill them in with caulking. You may also opt to seal the windows with plastic, which is available at most hardware stores.

5. Heat the Basement of Your House

Having a basement in your home is great because the area provides extra living space. However, warm air rises, leaving the basement chilly. You might avoid going down there all winter because it’s so cold. Heat the space up so that you can use it in the cold months. Install a ceiling fan that pushes air back down. Humid air feels warmer than dry air. Install a humidifier to benefit from the added heat of moisture (this is a great strategy for the rest of the house too). Finally, close the vents in rooms you don’t often use, such as a guest room, so that heat gets pushed to the spaces you use.

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