The Cold Season Has Arrived in Southern Colorado. Are You Prepared?

January 28, 2014

Southern Colorado is entering the winter season where snow, ice, heavy winds and unpredictable weather are the norms. Your Better Business Bureau serving Southern Colorado wants to provide you with advice and tips to prepare you for managing potential emergency situations this winter.

It is well known that dropping temperatures can impact many items within the house such as heating systems or pipes that aren’t properly insulated. Additionally, winter weather can create unsettling situations for drivers. Car breakdowns are dangerous, especially if your vehicle doesn’t have the proper items within it to keep you safe.

Get in front of any potential issues in the car by preparing yourself and your loved ones for snow/ice storms, loss of electricity, or an unexpected flat tire by storing important safety supplies in one general area of your car and home. Consider building an in-home emergency kit containing bottles of water, a first aid kit, battery-operated radio, fresh batteries, flashlights, candles, blankets, matches and non-perishable food. BBB recommends assembling a similar kit for the car complete with blankets, candles (yes, candles as they are an instant source of heat if your car engine fails), gloves, hats, a shovel, spare tire, flares and salt or snow-melting chemicals.

Also, if your home faces issues due to bad weather such as bursting pipes or you find that your heating system isn’t operating at a high level, the BBB can help you find a trustworthy contractor to repair these kinds of items. We have a list of several capable contractors on this website along with reviews of their performance in the community. Additionally, you can always call us directly at (719) 636-1155 with any questions. Remember, we are always here to reduce stress and help you find the quickest path to fixing any damage to your home!

If the time comes you must hire a contractor, be sure to gather multiple quotes and take the time to understand the contract with anyone you hire to replace items or make repairs. This is crucial. Also, avoid any ‘hand shake’ deals. Be sure to obtain any work-agreements in writing and avoid paying for the complete job until the work is finished and you are 100% satisfied with the final results. Another important practice to remember is to make sure the contractor you choose has the proper insurance and licensing needed to perform your repairs and be sure to ask them whether there are permits needed to make repairs or installations of equipment. Remember, you are the consumer and it is your right to ask ALL the questions and any worthwhile contractor should be able to answer your questions with confidence and professionalism.

The Better Business Bureau of Southern Colorado’s cold weather checklist includes:

  • Furnace checkup and cleaning: Clean or replace your furnace’s air filters. Annually, it is smart to have a professional check the furnace and ensure that the thermostat and other parts are working properly. A typical home furnace reaches the end of its useful life after 15 years.
  • Consider insulating heating ducts: The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) estimates that a centrally-heated home can lose as much as 60 percent of warmed air before it reaches vents if the ductwork is poorly connected, not insulated, or if it travels through unheated spaces. Use a vacuum cleaner to remove dust and dirt from vents.
  • Constantly check smoke and carbon monoxide detectors: Homeowners should routinely test these devices to make sure they work and install fresh batteries as needed. Detector units should be replaced every 10 years.
  • Use care with space heaters and generators: Ventilation is vital, especially with generators and heaters that use kerosene or other fossil fuels. Provide space around heaters make sure that blankets or other combustible items are not in contact with heaters. Read instructions carefully before you fire up a heater or generator.
  • Plug holes: The average American home may have many small air leaks. Though they may not be large, they have a cumulative effect on home heating costs. Make sure windows close tightly. Check for leaks around them and use caulking to plug the leaks. Inspect all weather stripping for cracks and peeling. In addition, consider applying insulating film to drafty windows, and install a tight-fitting fireplace door or cover to stop a day-long loss of heat through the chimney.
  • Prepare your yard: Prepare your snow-clearing equipment, such as shovels snow blowers, salt or other ice-melting products. Finally, don’t forget to drain outside faucets, have your sprinklers blown out and remove hoses to prevent the pipes from freezing.
  • Car checkup: Make sure you have ice scrapers, blankets and other cold-weather gear in your car. Before the cold season arrives, have a mechanic check fluid levels, including the coolant, to be sure reservoirs are full and able to withstand freezing temperatures. Make sure your windshield wipers are working.   Ensure your defrosters and heaters are working. Have your tires inspected and always check them for the proper air levels.