September 01, 2020
September has arrived, and autumn is well on its way.
As the summer heat begins to fade, and the first hints of red and gold begin to appear, it’s a great time to relax and enjoy the mild weather. Next Monday, September 7, is Labor Day/ Labour Day, a day which honors the achievements of our workforce —a "yearly national tribute to the contributions workers have made to the strength, prosperity, and well-being of our countr[ies].” Department of Labor.
So, take a break, rest from your labor, and enjoy the respite.
Then, after your rest, take advantage of this time to plan ahead. September is considered “National Preparedness Month” in the US: a month to get ready, to get prepared for harsher weather and conditions that will be coming, and a time to prepare for any emergencies that might arise.
So, use this September to make sure that you —and your home— are ready.
Here are some guidelines you can start with as you prepare for winter:
Fireplace & Chimney
- Check your wood-burning fireplace or stove to make sure that it is working properly before winter. Loose bricks or missing mortar should be replaced or repaired to prevent fire from spreading into the wall behind the fireplace.
- Test the flue damper to ensure that it is operating properly.
- Check your chimney for obstructions, and make sure that it is clean, hiring a professional if needed. You can test the chimney draft by lighting some newspaper and checking to see if the smoke rises properly.
- Test your heating system/furnace BEFORE the weather turns cold, ideally no later than October. It is best to have your system inspected before use to evaluate it for safety and efficiency. To test your system, turn the thermostat to HEAT and allow it to complete a full heating cycle, from turning on and blowing hot air through the vents to shutting off the blower again.
- Inspect ductwork for mold, dirt, debris, holes and loose connections. Contact a service technician for any repairs.
- Be sure to properly maintain your heating system, replacing air filters regularly (according to the recommended schedule) and checking for carbon monoxide leaks. If your thermostat is old, replace it with a newer model that may be programmed to lower the temperature when you are not at home or asleep.
Efficient insulation can save a great deal on utility bills.
- If you are unsure whether or not you have sufficient insulation, schedule an energy audit. Your utility company might provide complimentary audits.
- Exterior outlets may be insulated with foam sealing gaskets.
- Insulate exposed ductwork.
- Cover your water heater with blanket insulation or a cover, according to the manufacturer’s instructions.
Doors & Windows
A great deal of heat may be lost through drafty doors and windows, and can contribute to high utility bills.
- Inspect window glass to make sure it is whole and secure in its frame, and inspect doors for stability, replacing and repairing when needed.
- Before cold weather arrives, check for gaps around windows and doors. Gaps are easiest to see at night when there is light on one side and dark on the other. Fill gaps with silicone caulk or spray foam insulation designed for windows and doors.
- Install new weather stripping under entry doors and around windows and, when possible, replace screens with storm windows and doors.
In addition to battening down the hatches for rough weather ahead, it is good to prepare for any other eventuality that might occur.
The Department of Homeland Security and FEMA have many excellent resources to help citizens get ready for emergencies. Visit Ready.gov to find more information and helpful resources for National Preparedness Month. Learn how to Make a Plan, Build a Kit, Prepare for Disasters, and Teach Youth about Preparedness. Learn about the types of emergencies that might affect your area— from hurricanes to housefires, from snowstorms to severe heat— and formulate your readiness plan.
HERE is a helpful Emergency Supply Checklist. Stock supplies now and have a kit available so that you're ready for anything. HERE is another helpful printable guide from the Federal Emergency Management Agency. FEMA has many other useful published resources for individuals and families.
For example, a great idea for families is this Family Communication Plan: