Residents encouraged to prepare homes for winter months

Officials are encouraging Big Rapids area residents to prepare their homes for the winter by taking steps such as adding weatherstripping and sealing air leaks around doors and windows. In addition to winterizing homes, people are encouraged to prepare emergency kits in case a potentially dangerous situation should occur. (Courtesy photo)

BIG RAPIDS — With the snow here to stay in the Big Rapids area, officials are encouraging residents to prepare their homes for the winter months ahead.

Dale George, public information officer with the Michigan State Police Emergency Management and Homeland Security Division (MSP/EMHSD), said winterizing homes is important to do as the weather gets colder to make homes more energy efficient.

“A more efficient home will help you stay warmer for longer if the power goes out,” he said.

George added when winterizing a house, some steps to take include adding weatherstripping to seal air leaks around doors and windows and increase insulation.

According to the U.S. Department of Energy, making these changes and more will help people save money and stay comfortable during cold winter months.

Additional tips for home weatherization from the Department of Energy include:

• Using a heavy-duty, clear plastic sheet on a frame or tape clear plastic film to the inside of window frames to cover drafts;

• Install tight-fitting insulation drapes or shades on windows;

• Schedule service for your heating system;

• Replace the filter for the furnace once a month or as needed;

• Reduce heat loss from the fireplace by keeping the fireplace damper closed unless a fire is burning to prevent warm air from going up the chimney when it is not in use;

• When using the fireplace, reduce heat loss by opening dampers in the bottom of the firebox, if provided, or open the nearest window slightly — approximately 1 inch and close doors leading into the room. Lower the thermostat setting to between 50 and 55 degrees Fahrenheit;

• Plug and seal the chimney flue if the chimney is never in use;

• If the fireplace is used, install tempered glass doors and a heat-air exchange system that blows warmed air back into the room;

• Check the seal on the fireplace flue damper and make it as snug as possible;

• Purchase grates made of C-shaped metal tubes to draw cool room air into the fireplace and circulate warm air back into the room;

• Add caulking around the fireplace hearth;

• Lower water heating costs by turning down the temperature of the water heater to the warm setting; and

• Lower holiday lighting costs by using light-emitting diode, or LED, holiday light strings.

In addition to taking these steps to become more energy efficient during the winter, George said it is important to keep an eye on the amount of snow gathering on one’s roof if there has been a significant amount of wet and heavy snow.

He said to relieve the pressure on the roof this type of snow causes, people can use a telescoping rake, or an adjustable rake, to remove the snow from the roof while still safely on the ground as it can be hazardous to climb onto a snow and ice covered roof.

Once individuals have winterized their homes, it also is necessary to be prepared in case a potentially dangerous situation should occur by having an emergency kit on hand.

“You want to have something that will sustain you and your family for 72 hours,” George said.

He added some of the basics to include in a kit is one gallon of water per person per day, for drinking and sanitation; at least a three-day supply of non-perishable food, a battery-powered radio and a National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration radio with tone alert and a flashlight with extra batteries.

Other important items to include in an emergency kit in the winter are warm clothes and blankets, jackets and hats and gloves.

“Your family will be more resilient if your home is better prepared for different situations,” George said.

For more information about preparing for the winter months ahead, visit michigan.gov/miready.

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