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Are You Ready for Winter Weather? [Infographic]

January 3, 2017

Welcome to winter! We’ve had a few frigid nights recently so it’s important to do all we can to prepare our families and homes for the cold. Weather there’s a snow storm brewing or just low temperatures, let’s take a moment to get ready for whatever this winter has in store for Georgia.

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Winter Weather Terms

Watch? Advisory? Warning? When the meteorologist throws out one of these terms, we need to know what he’s talking about so we can prepare accordingly.

  • A winter storm watch is issued 12 to 48 hours before the possibility of winter weather. Make sure you have supply kits ready and pay attention to the forecasts to see what’s coming.
  • A winter weather advisory is issued at least 36 hours before winter precipitation is imminent. Start putting your safety plan into action and avoid unnecessary travel.
  • A winter storm warning is issued 36 hours before significant winter precipitation is imminent. This is the most severe of the three, so you’ll want to be especially careful if you need to travel and take extra precautions to protect your family and property.

Winter Safety Prep

Now that you know the terminology, how do you get ready?

Develop a Communications Plan

Determine how you and your family will keep in touch in case a winter storm comes through your area. If you have smart phones, download the Ready Georgia mobile app to connect with emergency contacts.

Get Together Ready Kits

Gather essential items for at least 3 days to keep in your home and vehicle. These will come in handy in case a storm knocks out the power or traps you on the road. Include the following:

  • Home:
    Food, water, extra blankets and coats, a flashlight and extra batteries, emergency chargers for mobile devices, a first aid kit, a battery-powered or hand crank radio and medicine.
     
  • Car:
    Food, water, blankets, a flashlight and extra batteries, a mobile phone charger, an ice scraper, a first aid kit, jumper cables and sand or cat litter to put under your tires if you get stuck in snow, ice or mud.

Have a Plan for Your Food

Freeze a gallon of water in disposable water bottles. If you lose power, store food from the refrigerator in coolers with the frozen bottles. Learn more about food safety and power-free recipes from Ready Georgia.

Home Energy Prep

Even when there isn’t a storm in sight, we shouldn’t overlook low temperatures. Cold weather can be a serious threat to our finances. In fact, the cost of heating your home typically makes up about 42% of your utility bill! But if you properly maintain your home and heating system, “weatherize” your house for the cold and apply appropriate thermostat settings, you can save about 30% on your energy bill.

Benefits of Weatherization

Let’s break this down further. By properly preparing your home for winter weather — called “weatherizing” — you can get:

  • a safe and improved home environment
  • increased financial independence
  • enhanced quality of life
  • an average savings of $350 or more per year
  • protection from futures changes to energy and supply prices

Weatherization Basics

Sign me up! Where do I start?

For the greatest results, it’s usually best to hire a professional to perform a home energy audit. This will give you a full idea of what can be improved in your home and equipment. But if you’re not ready for a home makeover, there are a few simple steps you can take to begin saving money on heating costs every winter.

Your goal, of course, is to keep the cold air out and the hot air in. To do this, you’ll need to seal any air leaks in your exterior walls. You might find leaks around your doors and windows which you can seal with caulk or weatherstripping. Weatherize windows further by covering them with a clear plastic film and by installing insulating drapes. Keep the drapes of sun-facing windows open during the day to let the sun warm your home, and close them at night.

Fireplaces can be another opening between the cold outdoors and your cozy home. Add caulking around the hearth and, when your fireplace is not lit, close the damper. Whenever you’re using your fireplace, close the door to the room it’s in to reduce heat loss.

And at all times, set your thermostat as low as comfortable. You can especially lower it anytime you’re out of the house, when you use the fireplace and at nights. If this sounds like a lot to remember, you might consider getting a programmable thermostat and setting it to match your family’s work and sleep routines.

Ready for more? Get a full list of energy-saving tips from Energy.gov.

Assistance for Low-Income Families

Most anyone can do something to weatherize their home without spending a dime. However, you can’t get too far without having to put in a little money upfront to save in the long run. If this could be an issue for you, look into the Weatherization Assistance Program (WAP) with the Georgia Environmental Finance Authority.

You may be eligible if:

  • you are considered low-income
  • you own or occupy your home
  • you live in a single-family home, multifamily building or a mobile home

If you think WAP might be right for you, contact your county’s service agency to apply.

Winter is here! Don’t get left in the cold.

About the Author

Rachel Hart is the User Interface designer for GeorgiaGov. She visually organizes information and writes blogs on a variety of government-related topics.