• Polar Vortex Preparation

    December 20, 2019

    How to plan ahead for cold weather extremes with these home safety measures.

    • During winter, record-breaking cold temperatures bring a lot of meteorology buzz to the northern polar vortex. That large pocket of low pressure and cold air always swirls around the North Pole, but when it expands southward, it also brings a noticeable bitter freeze. (FYI, a polar vortex is also over the South Pole).

      Before the next cold-weather event, tackle these measures to prep your home.

      Inspect your furnace

      Make an appointment with an HVAC professional—you’ll want your system to be ready for the season’s usage. Plus, replace your furnace filter if it’s dirty. Remember to change it at least every three months for 1” filters or annually for 4” filters.

      Clean your chimney

      Curling up in front of the fireplace with a book and a cup of coffee is quite idyllic. Before the first fireside hangout, get your chimney professionally inspected and swept. A flue that’s blocked can cause poor ventilation, leading to a build-up of creosote, as well as possibly sending carbon monoxide into your home.*

      Seal leaks and cracks

      No one likes a drafty house! So, give your home a little TLC by caulking up any cracks, leaks and gaps. Consider adding weather stripping to windows and doors to save up to 20 percent on your heating bill.**

      Prevent frozen pipes

      According to the Red Cross, an essential step to protect pipes includes draining water from outdoor sources (think: swimming pools, water sprinkler supply lines and hoses). Other precautions to consider: adding insulation to attics and basements; insulating any exposed water pipes with a "pipe sleeve" or installing UL-listed "heat tape," "heat cable," or similar materials; even relocating exposed pipes. Also, if you plan to leave your home for an extended period of time during the winter, keep the heat on—no lower than 55 degrees Fahrenheit.***

      Make an emergency kit

      In the event your electricity or water should go off, an emergency kit can be a saving grace. Stock up on bottled water, non-perishable food items (pet food included for your furry friends!), blankets, battery-powered radio, first-aid kit, flashlights and back-up batteries.

      Sources:

      * https://www.csia.org/carbonmonoxide.html

      ** https://www.energy.gov/energysaver/weatherize/air-sealing-your-home/weatherstripping

      *** https://www.redcross.org/get-help/how-to-prepare-for-emergencies/types-of-emergencies/winter-storm/frozen-pipes.html