Winterizing 2013 - The Weston Democrat

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Guide to prepare home, vehicles, pets, and family for winter - published November 6, 2013

Transcript of Winterizing 2013 - The Weston Democrat

  • E2The Weston Democrat -Winterizing Section - Wednesday, November 6, 2013

    Pets Need Cold Weather Care

    As fall gradually gives way to winter, vehicle owners often sigh at the thought of driving in winter weather or spending weekday mornings clearing their vehicles of ice before heading to the offi ce. But manning the wheel through another snowstorm or whittling away another nights worth of ice from a cars windshield are not the only rites of passage motorists must endure as cold weather returns.

    Winterizing a vehicle can im-prove vehicle performance during a time of year that, in many locales, can be especially harsh on auto-mobiles. Low temperatures make for less than ideal conditions for engines to run, while potholes left behind by snow plows can damage a vehicles wheels and may even result in fl at tires and a damaged suspension system. In addition, salt used to improve traction on roadways can cause rust. Short of moving to a locale with mild winters, theres little drivers can do to protect their vehicles from harsh winter weather. But winterizing a vehicle can prevent some of the more common issues drivers may encounter when the temperatures dip below freezing.

    * Take time out for your tires. Winter weather can limit traction, putting the safety of drivers and their passengers in jeopardy. When possible, avoid driving in the snow, and steer clear of roads where ice and black ice are known to form.

    While such measures can greatly reduce your risk of being in an accident, you likely cant avoid driving entirely come the winter. Drivers who want improved trac-tion from their tires throughout the winter can purchase winter tires for their vehicles. Such tires can more effectively handle roads that are covered in snow and ice than all-season tires. Another way to improve traction during the winter months is to constantly monitor tire pressure, which decreases more rapidly when the weather is cold. Properly infl ated tires provide better traction and protect against damage that may occur when driv-ing over potholes.

    * Consider a low-viscosity oil in the winter. The owners manual of your vehicle may recommend you use a lower viscosity motor oil to

    counter the dip in temperature thats synonymous with winter. When the temperatures outside fall, the oil inside your vehicle thickens, and a thicker oil wont circulate through the engine as well. This can cause engine problems because the engine wont be adequately lubricated. A low-viscosity oil is naturally thin-ner, so it may improve lubrication throughout the winter. The vehicle owners manual should recommend oils based on climate. If not, talk to your mechanic about changing from the oil you use throughout the year to a low-viscosity alternative during the winter.

    * Inspect your vehicle before winter arrives. No one wants to be out on the road during the fi rst snowstorm of the year only to dis-cover certain components are not working properly. Belts and hoses, while durable, can be put through strenuous conditions during the winter months, so a close inspec-tion of belts and hoses should be conducted in late fall. In addition, windshield wipers are especially important in winter, when snowfall can drastically impact visibility. You will want your wipers work-ing at full capacity once the winter begins, so replace older wipers (shelf life for standard wipers is typically one year) and use a de-icing windshield washer fl uid to maximize visibility.

    Another component that must be inspected is your cars battery. Many drivers have experienced a dead battery, which, in warm weather, is more of a nuisance than a health concern. In cold weather, a dead battery can threaten your health if you fi nd yourself stranded in cold weather. Especially low temperatures can compromise a batterys power by as much as 50 percent, so have your battery inspected in late fall and replace it if need be.

    * Dont be caught off guard. Part of winterizing a vehicle is be-ing prepared if the vehicle breaks down. Make sure you have extra washer fluid in your vehicles trunk, and dont forget to include an ice scraper, snow brush or even a snow shovel in the trunk as well. A snow shovel may be necessary if you need to dig your car out if its been buried somewhere other than your driveway. Other items to carry in your trunk include a blanket, a change of clothes, an extra hat, an extra pair of gloves, some nonperishable food, and a few bottles of water.

    Winter can be especially harsh on automobiles. But drivers can take several preventive steps to ensure their vehicle is safe and sound on the roads this winter.

    Winterized VehiclesSafer, Less Risky

    Keeping tools like a snow brush or ice scraper in the trunk of a vehicle is one way to ready a car for the winter months ahead.

    Protect RoofFrom IceBuild Up

    Is there ice build up on the edge of your roof this winter? If you havent closed the insulation gaps, major damage can be caused to this part of the house by ice damming. This starts with air leakage and it is preventable.

    Experts at Decker Home Ser-vices tell us that as your heating sys-tem produces warm air, it spreads throughout the levels of your house and some of it can escape through the ceiling of the top fl oor.

    This air then comes into contact with the inside edge of the roof and, when melting snow falls onto that portion, it can slowly trickle down and freeze. As more ice builds, a dam is created on the edge, and this can cause water to leak into your house.

    If any portion of the home is made of wood, water is especially harmful to it. This can cause mold and unwelcome, costly repair bills. If ice damming sounds familiar, it is wise to fi x the problem at once.

    Specialized insulation will do it, experts say. Products like the Icynene spray foam prevent air leakage and alleviate cases of ice damming.

    At the same time, high quality spray insulation increases your homes energy effi ciency, reduces your heating bills and provides a more comfortable indoor environ-ment.

    More information is available online at

    When temperatures drop, hu-mans are not the only ones who feel the chill. Cold weather also can take its toll on animals, including dogs, cats and birds. Protecting pets when winter arrives involves modifying care tactics.

    A major winter snowfall or sim-ply a snap of cold weather can cause many problems for pets. Much like humans, dogs and cats can experi-ence frostbite on extremities when subjected to cold temperatures. Ears, noses and paws all may bear the brunt of cold weather, increas-ing the risk of injury.

    Provide warm shelterAlthough it may appear that

    pets are well insulated against cold temperatures, fur or feathers do not make pets impervious to the cold. According to the ASPCA, fur wet-ted by snow may not dry quickly, putting animals at risk for a chill or even hypothermia. As a precau-tionary measure, keep companion animals inside when temperatures drop below 30*F.

    If yours is an outside dog, be sure that he or she is equipped with dry, draft-free shelter. A dog house that is too large will not retain heat, so keep this in mind. Reduce wind chill by placing the dog house where it will not be in the direct line of wind. You may want to think about keeping the dog in an insulated shed or garage if you prefer not to move the pet inside.

    Cats can easily freeze while outdoors; therefore, it is safer to keep them inside. Also, outdoors a cat may seek unsafe shelter, such as under the hoods of cars where they can be injured or killed if the car is started.

    Dress warmlyA mammals system for regu-

    lating heat can be compromised when there is excessive cold. No matter its type of fur, a dog or cat may not be able to tolerate long periods of cold weather, unless it is a breed that was specifi cally bred for remaining outdoors in the cold, like a Malamute or Husky. When venturing outside, consider the use of a sweater or vest on short-haired dogs, but keep an eye on the pet. Wearing a coat doesnt mean he should be left outdoors unattended.

    Cats probably will not toler-

    ate any type of clothing. If going outdoors to a vet appointment, use a carrier that is insulated from the cold with thick blankets.

    Limit draftsAddress drafts around the

    house, which will increase your comfort and that of your companion animals. Dogs and cats lie on the ground, where colder air tends to collect. It may be several degrees cooler near the fl oor where they reside. Check windows and doors for drafts. If repairs or replacements arent fi nancially possible, consider the use of draft guards or insulating curtains.

    These measures also will protect pet birds. Most birds that are kept as pets are from tropical climates and cannot tolerate severe colder temperatures. Reduce risk of illness by keeping birds away from drafty windows and doors that open and close frequently during the winter.

    Keep them leashedMany dogs like to frolic in the

    snow, but snow can cause a pooch to lose his scent on the ground and get lost. A dog also may run off and get smothered by tall snowdrifts or

    slip through thin ice when not being able to gauge its surroundings. It is best to keep dogs on leashes during any type of inclement weather.

    Be mindful of pets young and old

    Puppies and kittens as well as older dogs and cats may be less tolerant of colder weather. Young animals are lacking the fat stores and thick coats of their adult coun-terparts that can help protect them against the cold. Housebreaking a puppy during the cold weather could be challenging.

    Senior dogs may feel aches and pains from the cold, which can irritate existing conditions like arthritis. Limit their time outdoors to bathroom breaks.

    Remove chemical poisonsAntifreeze and specialized