Quick Tips to Get Your Home Ready for Cold — Fast

We are expecting MORE snow tonight, and temperatures are about to plummet. But there's still enough time to get your home prepared -- if you do it now.

Luckily, none of these up big chunks of time.

Start outside the home:

  • If you haven't already done so, disconnect any hoses from spigots.
  • Clear gutters and outside drains of debris or ice, so when the snow finally melts it can travel down the drain. The key here is to keep the water from the melting snow from backing up into your basement.
  • Because the snow is forecast to be light and powdery, an gas-powered leaf blower can help you clear the cars and sidewalks within minutes.

Inside the home:

  • Keep your faucets going with a small drip to reduce the risk of freezing. A constant flow of water can help keep pipes from bursting.
  • If you turn on the faucet and no water comes out, don't take any chances and call a plumber.
  • If a pipe does burst, turn off the water at the main shut-off valve, usually in your basement or crawl space.
  • It might also be a good idea to keep a trusted plumber's number on hand -- you want to be ready just in case.

Figure Out the Best Way to Melt Ice:

Whether you want to completely get rid of the ice or just get a little traction, Consumer Reports has some suggestions.

  • Consumer Reporters names the best deicers as magnesium chloride or calcium chloride. Both of these salts work in sub-zero temps, but keep in mind that they salts can cause damage to your concrete and your plants, so Consumer Reports recommends using only a thin coat.
  • If you want to try getting some traction without the damage, try sand, gravel, fireplace ashes, or kitty litter.
  • Those products won't melt the ice, but will provide traction without the damage.

What You May Not Know About Keeping Pets Safe:

Some of the chemicals used to melt ice can be dangerous to pets.

  • First and foremost, keep your pets away from anti-freeze. Some people pour anti-freeze on sidewalks as a deicer, which is a bad idea -- it can be lethal if ingested by a dog or a cat. What's worse, it has a sweet taste to dogs and cats, who might be attracted to it.
  • Vets say if your pet swallows even a tiny amount, it can cause irreversible damage that could lead to death.
  • Avoid any toxicity by cleaning pets' paws after a walk so they don't lick off the chemicals when you get home.
  • If your dog will tolerate booties, you can buy disposable and waterproof ones just for dogs.
  • When it comes to cats, Friendship Animal Hospital says keep them inside. Cats left outside often seek warmth by crawling up onto the engine block of a car.
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