Tuesday, 6 September 2011

My Winter Checklist

I know we're barely in September, but I just got to thinking about how quickly the year is flying and how bad last winter was (worse than the one before) and how this winter is supposed to be worse again. I must admit, this fills me full of mild panic whenever I think about it. I don't want to get to October or November and see the snow and realise I am unprepared then end up queuing for Wellingtons or Rock Salt to find the stores have sold out or that they've jacked up their prices adding serious convenience premiums - so this year, I am planning ahead.

I'm guessing I've lost most of my readers now - who wants to think of this on a dreary Tuesday morning, after the rain plagued Summer we've just endured? But for those who are still listening, here is my winter survival plan which I hope helps some of you out there!

Home - Last year our sloping pathway turned in to a [couple of inches thick in solid ice] death trap. I shovelled and chipped the ice away but it soon returned and when we bought and laid rock salt to prevent it, we didn't salt the external path and car park. This year will be a different story - even if I have to grit the whole court, I refuse to skate to the car every morning!
  • Snow Shovel
  • Large Rock Salt Supply
  • Waterproof Rubber Mats
  • Wellington Boots, Thermal Socks and Gloves for all the Family
And, because it's not all doom and gloom, I am buying a sledge at some point before they sell out again like last year and stock piling Snowman building supplies (old scarves / hats, twigs and coal)!

Pets - Our dogs live inside and have the most pampered existence imaginable. Last year though, we got a baby rabbit, who quite happily lives outside. He survived the winter fine, with his Hutch Hugger and lashings of extra hay; the only issue was that his water was continually frozen on a morning. Then there's the regular visits from the wild birds who will be relying on us in winter more than ever.
  • Bottle Snug for Rabbit's Water Bottle
  • Spare Water Bottle kept inside to switch with outside bottle if frozen
  • Bird Food for Wild Birds (going to try some recipes for home made fat balls, etc this year!)
Car - common sense applies a lot here, particularly to driving in the snow; the BBC and the AA have some excellent tips to keep in mind. From experience, my biggest tips are:
  1. Do not use boiling water on the windscreen to de-ice it. It will crack or weaken the glass. Scrape off the ice and snow using good old fashioned elbow grease
  2. Do not leave De-Icer in the car (it won't work if the can gets too cold). If you do use De-Icer, use a scraper to scrape the window after spraying it; otherwise the melted ice will drip and re-freeze 
  3. Leave wipers off when you park the car. If you have them on they will burn out when you turn the car back on and they are trying to move, but can't because they are frozen to the windscreen
  4. Prepare a cup of boiling water and soak the metal part of your key in it allowing the metal to heat up if you have frozen locks (a little like heating a spoon to cut through treacle)
  • Confirm Breakdown Cover T+C and ensure contact numbers stored in mobile phone
  • Spare shoes which are dry and warm to change in to. Wellingtons or Snow Boots can be slippery and cold to drive in after trudging through ice and snow!
  • Learn to change a tyre, ensure Jack, Wheel brace, etc in boot
  • Washing up bowl / plastic storage crate of Rock Salt and small shovel (use the grit under tyres to get out if stuck)
  • Jump leads
  • Collapsible Shovel
  • Soft nylon / bristle sweeping brush to 'sweep' snow off roof and bonnet of car and prevent it flying over windscreen when driving (super important after the changes to the law) - check you can reach the whole roof with it (I need a full sized sweeping brush whereas my Dad can get away with a hand brush)
  • Ice Scraper
  • Spare Thermal Gloves, Scarf, Hat
  • Blanket
  • First Aid Kit (chocolate is included here - or Kendal Mint Cake if you can stomach it!)
  • Torch and Batteries
Winter 'Self-Service', check:
All fluid levels
Anti-Freeze in engine
Anti-Freeze in screen wash (not engine anti-freeze, it will ruin paintwork!)
Tyre treads and inflation
All bulbs, familiarise myself with how to change each bulb and carry an emergency bulb kit in the boot
All wiper blades
Tip: buy some rubber car mats now - fabric ones freeze if they get soaked from snowy feet and this can cause real slippery trouble!

So that's my plan - I feel better already having written it all down... I just hope I've thought of everything - if you have anything to add, I look forward to your tips!

Nanna Kate X

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