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Preparing for Winter in The Pnw

As the freak winter storm of the pacific west coast takes over several parts of northern California, the rest of the pacific northwest is heeding the winter signs and rushing for a late winter preparation.

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For the last couple of years, whether in the pacific northwest has been getting increasingly strange and different. Many in Seattle have noticed that our last winter started in November 08 and lasted just about till June 09. We had two strange snow storms, one in April and one in June. These have happened in the past, but I do believe it hasn’t happened since at least 1996 or earlier.

This summer of 2009, which officially started late in June, has persisted for the most part up until the end of October into early November. The temperature barely dropped to around 36*F a few times and maintained a good 50-60* most of the time. This might seem cold to others, but as a person born and raised in Seattle, that is unusual. By late September to early October I am usually getting ready to insulate the pipes, chop wood and get things ready for the start of winter, lots of rain and keeping warm.

We still have yet to see all that much rain, other than a few weeks spread out of heavy rain and a light thunderstorm. Not that I am unhappy with the current weather patterns as much of the plant life around me has extended is blooming season because of the extra sunlight without the clouds.

It just seems strange…

So! Without further ado! Here’s is the Winter To Do:

Preparing for winter is important if you want to keep yourself, your family and your home running with or without problems. Here are 6 Steps to preparing for Winter in the Pacific Northwest.

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(A) Make a List

This is important so that you don’t have to make a bunch of extra trips to the store. This should actually be two part, as it will be good to make a list of the things you already have in your home that you know where is, and the things you need to get.

Here is a sample of a list I use:

(1) Have

    -Flash Lights
    -Dog food
    -Fresh stored water
    -Iron Skillets and Pots
    -Emergency Radio

(2) Need

    -First Aid Supplies
    -Cat food
    -Fruits and Veggies
    -Frozen Meat
    -Road Salt
    -Pipe Insulators
    -Winter Snow Cap
    -Canned Goods
    -Tow Rope
    -Snow Tire Chains

(B) Have a Plan

Seriously, one of the worst things you can do is have no plan at all. If the winter hits and you have no plan, then you just add to the frenzy of people trying to rush to the store. These are the ones who more commonly get stuck in snow, cause car accidents or whom forget the most important necessities.

Make sure you aren’t one of these individuals by making sure you have a plan. Sit down with your boyfriend, sister, neighbor, mom or even the mail man, and discuss what you should or will do in the event that it snows really bad.

The pacific northwest has been known for its sporadic and at times overwhelming winter weather, between flooding showers of rain, thick icy snow and sheets of hail, you never know what is going to come up next. To add to the effect, climate hasn’t quite decided whether we should be extra cold or extra warm, so we never know if winter is going to come when the weather man says it will (Nov), or when it feels like it (Jan).

By making sure you are prepared before any of it happens, you are preparing to succeed, should trouble find you. If you don’t prepare at all, you are preparing to fail, so make sure you at least have a back up plan if nothing else!

Making sure you have several things in your home such as extra water stored away, preserved foods (canned goods are okay but not as good as preserves), a fire pit, BBQ or outdoor grill, flashlights, rock salt, a snow shovel, dry wood, extra blankets, pet food and first aid stored up for at least a couple of weeks.

If you want to be extra prepared, having an outdoor canopy, a gas generator, some extra gasoline and a whole bunch of books is very useful. Should the lights go out during worse winter weather, then you are prepared with extra heat and some good stories to tell everyone as you spend some time around a crisp fire. Just please remember not to use generators in the house!

Aside from having plans for yourself and your direct family, go just that bit further and make sure to have a plan with your friends and family as well. Not just for your benefit, but for there’s as well. You never know what might happen in a winter storm and if you sister in law is the type to freak out an come over it would be nice to have enough prepared for your family and her and her kids.

Or even on the far end, should the winter come late and last long, if you should need anything and not be able to get it from your home, who will you call? If you get stuck in your car in snow storm traffic one day, who will come and help you get home?

Make sure to think about everything.

(C) Seal up the house

Now, remember, although we are going to want our houses to be warm in the cold winter, we don’t want the air inside to get to stagnant, so make sure to open a window or turn on a fan and crack the door for a while everyday, so that you get new fresh air in.

For this your going to want to sacrifice some large thick blankets, or just make sure you have extra. Place them over any large windows, or around any doors that leak in cold air.

Go around your home with all doors to rooms closed and feel for any drafts coming in. Does the entry whole to the crawl under the house let in any cold air? Does the entrance to the attic get drafty at all? If they do, use some towels to cover the cracks.

(D) Don’t Panic

Whether your on the road, at home or far away at grandma’s house, the worst thing you can do is panic. Frozen drivers are 90% of the jam ups in winter weather, while 80% of accidents are cause by those who think there SUV is some super snow machine and get cocky.

You don’t want to be either of those. You want to be the sane and sensible one, going slowly, but always moving. Avoid hills when you can, go around them even if it’s the long way home. If you have a commute, let your work know you’ll be late and don’t try to get there to fast. If your at home and the snow starts to build up, make sure to call a few people and let them know you are buttoning up for the weather. Pay attention to your radio news and online news to see what the weather predictions are, or how others in your area are doing.

Then sit down and relax with a favorite holiday beverage.

(E) Have Fun!

Enjoy yourself! This is the biggest key to enjoying yourself in the harsh winter weather. Remember what it felt like when you were a kid and snow meant a day home from school and building snowmen and hitting your friend with a giant snow ball.

Have fun in the winter weather! If you’re prepared, there is no reason you shouldn’t be able to!

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