Even though we always know that it is coming, somehow cold weather always surprises us. Each year it feels like one minute we are enjoying BBQs in the garden and days on the beach, walking around in summer dresses and sandals, and the next, the heating is on, we’re fighting frozen fingers and toes, and trying desperately to keep warm.
This year, the signs are here. Evenings are growing darker; leaves are falling from the trees, and the temperature is undoubtedly dropping. You might have already got some of your winter wardrobe out, and let’s be honest, if you have already had the heating on once or twice, you won’t be alone. So, why not read those warning signs, and start preparing for the inevitable cold spell ahead, while hoping that it won’t be too bad, or last that long.
The Benefits of Preparing for Cold Weather
Failing to prepare for the cold weather can be dangerous. It can mean that your home is not secure and may face costly damage. It can mean that you are cold and uncomfortable, or that you get ill more seriously and more frequently. Failing to prepare might mean that you aren’t safe on the roads, or that you are unable to enjoy Halloween, Christmas and all of the other things that these seasons have to offer. Some of the benefits of taking a little time to prepare for winter include:
- Keeping warm
- Staying safe
- Staying healthy
- Keeping your family healthy
- Being able to have more fun
- Protecting your home
- Reduced energy bills
It’s clear that it’s worth preparing for cold weather, but how do you do it? Let’s take a look.
Preparing Your Home
In the winter, we spend more time in our houses than usual (although, perhaps not this year!), so it’s essential that we keep them safe, and reduce the risks of things like broken boilers and frozen pipes, but it’s also crucial that we are able to get comfy on a cold winter’s evening after a long day at work. Here are some of the things that you should consider when preparing your house for cold weather.
Have Your Boiler Serviced
The last thing that anyone wants when the temperature drops is a broken boiler. But, that’s often when it happens. We don’t use our boilers for months, then the first week that they get more sustained use, they break, and are unable to keep us warm.
Get your boiler serviced before cold weather hits, and it should work well all year.
Check Windows and Doors
An awful lot of the heat that we have in our houses is lost through poor door and window seals, damaged panes and old, cracked frames. Check your windows and doors for signs of damage, paying close attention to seals, and running your fingers around the edges to check for a breeze, and arrange for high-quality window replacement if you need to.
Frozen pipes are another big problem in the winter. Usually, pipes can be thawed with warm water, but if this doesn’t work, or the frozen pipe isn’t spotted soon enough, there’s a risk that the pipes will expand and burst, causing potential flooding and costly damage to your home. Add lagging to any outdoor pipes to prevent freezing.
Update Your Insulation
Adding insulation to your loft and cavity walls can help to keep the heat in your house and save you money on your heating bills. If you’ve already got insulation, it can be worth upgrading if it’s over ten years old.
Have Gutters Cleaned
Most of us are guilty of entirely forgetting our roofs and guttering. We can’t see them, so we don’t worry. However, a leaky roof, and clogged up guttering can cause problems in the winter. If your gutter starts to overflow, it can cause water to seep between the brickwork of your home. If this freezes, it can cause severe damage. Hire someone to check your roof and clean your gutters.
Check Your Insurance Policies
This is a great time to make sure your home insurance covers any damage that could be caused by inclement weather over winter. Check your policy now and make some updates if needed.
Tidy and Weatherproof Outdoors
Many of us have been guilty of closing our doors and ignoring our gardens until March. This is a mistake, which can lead to a messy, unusable garden in spring. If you want your garden ready to use, spend some time now tidying up, planting spring bulbs and weatherproofing fencing, decks and other woodwork.
Preparing your home is excellent, but it’s also worth getting yourself ready. Here’s a look at some things that you can do to stay healthy and happy, no matter how cold it gets.
Schedule Some Health Checks
It’s normal to get four-five colds a year, and most of these will come in the colder seasons. Coughs and chest infections are also common, and if you’ve got kids, you may feel as though you pass colds around constantly until spring.
It doesn’t have to be like this. If you’ve got any worries, head to your Drs for a check-up (checking current Covid-19 guidance first) and consider booking in for a flu jab, even if you have to pay for one.
Change Your Exercise Routines
If you usually exercise outdoors or at least have been during lockdown when you might not have been able to head to the gym or pool, then you might want to consider some changes.
Running outdoors is still ok, but you might want to add some extra layers and invest in waterproofs. You might also want to try indoor exercise, such as home HIIT workouts, on wetter, colder days when running outside might not be safe.
Make some plans now, for what you will do if the weather is very bad, and you won’t use it as an excuse not to exercise.
Indulge in Some Comfort Food
Nothing beats comfort food on a cold day. Look for stews, casseroles and hotpots, and get your slow cooker or Dutch oven out ready. Homemade soups can also be filling, comforting, and immune system boosting.
Eating the right things is an excellent way to boost your immune system and avoid illness. Some of the ingredients you might want to eat more of include:
- Citrus fruits
- Red peppers
Update Your Winter Wardrobe
If you are still clinging on to those winter dresses and short-sleeved tees, this might be a good time to do a winter clothes inventory, to see what you might need before it gets too cold. Make sure you’ve got a warm, waterproof coat and shoes, and plenty of light layers, that are easy to add and remove. A high-quality hat, scarf and gloves are always helpful too.
Get into Good Self-Care Habits
Self-care is perhaps more important than ever in winter when it’s dark and grey, and we’re fighting off colds and flu. Get into good habits by making time for yourself and finding things that you enjoy. Enjoy an early night when you can, treat yourself, and curl up with a good book or film when you need some extra comfort.
Step Up Your Skincare Routine
Your skin is bound to need more care too. Cold weather and harsh winds can leave our skin dry, cracked and sore. If you have colds, the skin around your nose and lips might be particularly tender.
Take a look at your skincare routine. It should have the basics, such as cleansing, removing your eye makeup and moisturising. You may want to add a mask, and a weekly exfoliation, as well as a more intensive moisturiser.
Book a Trip
It’s always nice to have something to look forward to in winter, especially later on, when it feels as though it has been cold forever. Book a trip for January or February to keep you going and give you something to plan for.
Make Some Plans
Of course, big trips aren’t the only ways to enjoy yourself when it is cold. Make some other plans such as attending a Christmas market, decorating for Halloween, meeting up with friends and eating in your favourite restaurants. Make sure you’ve got plenty of plans, and it will pass faster.
There may be other preparations that you need to make, depending on your lifestyle. Ask yourself if your commute to work needs to change, or if you need to change any of your hobbies. Do you need to provide extra care for relatives? If you drive, you should also take the time to get a car service, to check fluid levels, and to add winter tyres.
Autumn and winter are fantastic times of the year. There is lots going on, and lots to look forward to, and if you take the time to prepare effectively, you’ll minimise discomfort, illness and damage to your home, allowing you to enjoy these seasons and all of the magic that they might bring.