(ABC4) – This may be hard to believe for some, considering that temperatures were unbearably warm not too long ago, but soon they’ll be unbearably cold.
That’s the nature of living in the Beehive State, where the unofficial state joke is ‘Welcome to Utah, if you don’t like the weather, just wait five minutes!’. Poorly conceived humor aside, the changing of the seasons is not something to be enjoyed – or despised – passively. The shift in conditions requires a bit of work in order to maintain some level of comfortability or even to survive safely.
Since the state has seen an influx of new residents lately, many from warmer climates, this list may come in handy to better prepare adopted Utahns for the winter wonderland. There are also plenty of good reminders for Utah lifers.
Yard work, work, work, work
It won’t be long before the green – or yellow, thanks to the record-breaking drought this summer – of the yard area around your home becomes covered in several inches of fluffy white snow. Before the main ingredient in building a snowman or snow fort takes over control of day-to-day life, getting your yard prepared is essential.
Starting from the top-down, taking care of any trees you have in your yard is a bigger deal than some might realize. The snow that gathers on top of any overgrown branches can weigh them down and even result in a snap, sending the branch tumbling down to whatever waits below. Trimming the tree, especially the branches that hang over the house itself or where cars are typically parked is a good way to avoid certain disaster.
On the ground level, getting the grass prepped for a few months of smothering snow is also important to having a healthy lawn once the melt comes in the spring. Getting the lawn aerated by punching holes into it is worth the energy. For new Utahns, chances are pretty good that someone in your neighborhood either has an aerating tool or knows someone who does. If you’re not averse to doing it yourself and getting some exercise while doing so, you can easily find aerator shoes, which look like a set of nails drilled onto a little board to be strapped to your feet.
Oh, and make sure you have a good pair of shoes or boots just for your daily activities. Those canvas low-tops are going to feel like an awful choice of footwear after an accidental step in a slush puddle.
Prepping from the outside-in
In addition to getting the yard ready for winter, getting the exterior of your home prepared should also be on your list before bundling up inside by the fireplace (more on that later as well). To avoid frozen and broken pipes and hardware outside the house, homeowners should do a few things. If you have a hose attached to an outdoor spigot, take it off and wrap it up. That’s a simple step that can save you a world of trouble. If left attached, the water that lingers in the hose can freeze up and cause the pipes that lead out to the spigot to burst, which in turn can create a big problem inside the house.
Also, look up. You’ll probably notice your home has gutters around the edge of the roof. You’ll want to clean those out of any leaves or debris as well. If the water that runs down your roof doesn’t have anywhere to go, it’ll gather and perhaps cause damage to the roofline or run down somewhere it shouldn’t and cause structural damage to the foundation. Yes, it’s a pain to get the ladder out and scoop out the gutters, but it’s a necessary effort.
Prepping from the inside-out
OK, great. You’ve gotten the outside of the house ready for winter, but the work isn’t over yet. Now it’s time to seal the home from the inside out. Preventing the outdoor spigot from freezing was one step of the equation, the next thing is to check the indoor exposed pipes and wrap them up in insulating sleeves. Think of it as a little Christmas sweater for pipes. Doing this will not only prevent bursts but also heat loss as well, lowering your heating bill. You might be able to get yourself a Christmas sweater with the savings.
Another part of saving on heating costs is sealing off all the areas where your hard-earned dollars-turned-warm air could escape. Placing a weatherstrip around your windows will keep the warmth where it should be. Don’t forget about your doorways either. Getting a draft blocker for the door crack by the floor is a good idea.
If you live in a home with a fireplace, you might want to use it every once in a while. Before doing so, have an inspector come by to make sure there isn’t a build-up of soot or anything else that can cause a house fire. When you’re not using it, close the damper to keep the house sealed up.
Also, make sure your fans are turning clockwise so they can push warm air (which rises, remember that from physics class?) down towards the floors, which will probably get pretty cold.
Getting the sleigh ready
If you must head out of the house to run errands, go to work, visit friends and family, or really any reason, being prepared for whatever road conditions await is a big part of the winter prep picture. While the weather and how the roads react or how municipal leaders and workers respond are largely out of your control, there are some things you can do to be as prepared as possible when hitting the road.
Where the road stops and your driveway begins is where homeowners’ responsibility starts as well. Invest in a good, solid snow shovel before you really need it. If pushing a shovel isn’t your thing, a snowblower, which is basically a lawnmower for snow, is a good solution. Once the heavy stuff is cleared, the ice and slush will remain on the surface. A sprinkle of ice melt or rock salt will take care of that. It’ll come in handy to have some melt or salt in your truck and maybe a bit of sand as well. Having that stuff ready to go will be lifesaving if you’re caught in a place where getting the car out of its parking spot proves difficult.
Chances are pretty good that you’ll be caught in some slick, slippery road conditions, so make sure your tires are ready for the increased need for better traction. A fresh set of windshield wipers will also be a must when braving an ongoing snowstorm.
Next to your bag of rock salt and sand, keep an emergency kit and a blanket in your trunk. You never know when you might need it.
If this is your first Utah winter, welcome. There is plenty to enjoy while the ‘Greatest Snow on Earth’ covers the landscape. Stay safe and warm and you’ll come to love the changing seasons of the Beehive State. Or maybe you won’t, in which case, someone will happily snatch up whatever housing situation you leave behind.