No matter where you live, you are affected by the weather. Those on the West Coast find their lives and their property at risk from surprising natural calamities like wildfires or earthquakes. The Gulf Coast has a hurricane threat for six months out of a year. In the Midwest and Texas, it’s Tornado Alley.
But here in the South, we’re not immune from Mother Nature’s surprises. In fact, one of the most damaging is one we share with most of the rest of the United States.
It’s the threat of freezing weather.
North Georgia is particularly at risk, with more subfreezing temperatures and ice storms. But literally, all of the state is at risk for a hard freeze or two annually.
“Winter weather can happen anywhere in Georgia. It’s important to be prepared for winter storms which often bring dangerously low temperatures, strong winds, icing, sleet and freezing rain,” says the Georgia Emergency Management Agency.
The damage can knock out your power or water for days, down power lines and block roads. So it’s good to plan ahead for the worst as we push into the coldest part of winter.
What should you do?
Plan for at least three days of self-sufficiency, says Ready Georgia, a disaster-preparedness initiative by GEMA. They suggest creating an emergency kit that includes not only food and water for those three days, but important things that you might otherwise not think of, like a manual can opener, batteries for flashlights, a charged-up power cell to recharge cell phones and the like.
For winter, they suggest adding:
- Rock salt — or an alternative product that won’t kill your plants — to melt ice on paths.
- Sand to help you gain traction on slippery ice.
- Snow shovels, and possible other snow removal equipment like blowers.
- Heavy clothing and blankets to keep you warm in the event you lose heat for a spell.
- Enough heating fuel (seasoned wood, for instance) for your fireplace or wood-burning stove.
About that last point, if you haven’t used your fireplace in a bit, schedule a professional cleaning to be sure it’s safe before you need to use it.
In the house
If you’re ready for some good news, we have some. You should also take some proactive steps in fortifying your home against the weather, and many of those steps can not only improve the value of your house but save money on energy bills and make you safer while you’re in it.
The best first step is ensuring you’ve got adequate insulation. Start by checking the attic, where it’s easy and cheap to add more fluff to buttress against the cold. If things are up to snuff up top, explore options for insulating the walls or between floor joists. These can be spendy but will mean a world of difference if you’re without a heat source. Don’t forget to check the weather stripping around doors and windows, too, which can be drafty.
If you’re using a fireplace, wood stove or non-electric portable heater (and you should have one of these at the ready), or if you use natural gas, you should install a carbon monoxide detector on each floor. Carbon monoxide is deadly, and the detectors are inexpensive and simply plug into a wall.
Ready Georgia has a comprehensive list that will help you with some of the other details, including how to prep your car. So be sure to check out their website.
Most of all, please be careful. As real estate professionals, we know how valuable your home is to you. But you and your family are the most valuable things in it.
Chad and Christina