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LIVING BETTER: Winterizing checklist: Five things to do now to prepare your home

Ready for winter? Inevitably homeowners fail to thoroughly winterize their homes and equipment. Whether the weather pundits predict a mild or brutal winter, take no chances and be prepared for the worst.

Here are five things many forget, according to website, Doityourself.com.

1. Outdoor furniture. Some furniture can remain outside throughout the winter, while other deck or patio furniture ought to be protected by sturdy all-weather tarps or storage in a garage. I take no chances and protect most of my deck furniture by storing it in the garage. The rest I tie down with tarps. Prior to storage, I scrape wrought iron furniture clean and spray with a coat of protective spray paint.

2. Drains, culverts and gutters. Thoroughly clean and clear to eliminate blockages. A garden hose will do the job. Similarly, use your hose to clear gutters of clustered leaves and debris. Be careful. Use a sturdy ladder and recruit a friend to help you.

3. Power equipment. Clean your power equipment before storing it for the winter. But first drain any accumulated gas. Clean metal blades on mowers so they don’t rust, and similarly clean parts on chainsaws, weed whackers and other power tools.

4. Hoses and sprinkler systems. Drain hoses and sprinkler systems, and shut off the water supply to them to avoid freezing. Don’t forget to shut off all outdoor faucets and thoroughly drain the lines. When hoses are free of water, store them in a dry place such as a garage or tool shed.

5. Stock up with basics. Since we don’t have crystal balls, we don’t know what kind of winter Mother Nature has in store for us. No matter how much we plan, most people are never totally prepared for winter emergencies. That’s why I write variations of this story every year. Doityourself.com suggested stocking enough food for at least three days. I like to be prepared for the worst so I keep enough food for about two weeks. Dried beans, can goods (sauces, soups), cereal, powdered milk, rice and pasta of all varieties last for months. Stocking perishables shouldn’t be a problem if your power goes. Just keep them in a freezer in your garage. Additionally, you ought to have these items on hand as well: First aid kit; flashlights; candles; matches, plenty of gas for your generator should you have a power outage; and last but by no means least, plenty of water. I’m sure I failed to include a few essentials, which I’ll include next year.

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