Storms are an inevitable part of any season, but during winter in Maryland, storms can be especially tough. Whether it’s heavy snow, high winds or extreme cold, winter weather can cause plenty of headaches for homeowners. But, as with most things, being prepared can make a big difference. Here are some things you can do to get your home (and yourself) ready for any inclement Annapolis weather.
Trees and other vegetation in poor condition can be easily damaged by heavy snow or wind, and falling limbs or even downed trees can in turn cause a lot of damage to your home, garage or vehicles. Keep branches trimmed, and if a tree is dead, dying or encroaching upon your home, it may be time to have it removed entirely. While tree removal isn’t cheap, it’s less expensive (and much less dangerous) than having a tree fall on your house.
Check the roof
Before winter starts, it’s a good idea to inspect your roof and make sure there are no loose shingles that could come off during a storm. That could lead to a leaky roof, which could in turn lead to more damage. While you’re at it, clean your gutters to make sure they’re free of leaves, dirt and other debris that could keep them from draining off ice and snow as it melts.
If you have any window air conditioners, be sure to remove them during the fall before the weather turns. Store them somewhere inside, covered to keep them free of dust and moisture. This is also a good time to remove any window screens, and possibly even install storm doors/windows. If drafts are a problem, you can cover your windows with plastic to help keep your home cozy without driving up heating costs. Otherwise, consider upgrading to more efficient windows.
Check the chimneys
If you have a chimney, be sure to get it inspected by a professional every year to cut down on fire risk. Before a storm, make sure you have plenty of firewood cut and ready to go so you don’t have to try to split wood during a blizzard. Likewise, if you have other kinds of heaters -- wood pellets, corn stoves, etc. -- make sure you have plenty of fuel on hand and easily accessible before a big storm.
Protect your pipes
Frozen pipes can burst and cause lots of damage and frustration. Add insulation around your most vulnerable pipes to protect them from extreme temperatures. Be sure you know how to shut off your water (and gas) lines if you need to in an emergency.
It seems obvious, but make sure you dig your snow shovel out of the back of the garage so it’s easy to get to once the storm hits. Make sure it’s still in good condition, and maybe have a backup on-hand just in case. While you’re at it, make sure you have ice melt available, too.
In advance of a storm, make sure you have the essentials to get you and your family through were you to be stranded for a day or two. In addition to obvious things like extra bread and milk, keep some non-perishable food items around, and bottled water. In case of a power outage, make sure you have candles and/or flashlights, plenty of extra batteries, and extra blankets. If you live in a rural or remote area, a backup generator is also a good idea. FEMA recommends creating an emergency plan specifically for your family, and provides tips on other items you may need.
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