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"Opinions expressed are solely my own and do not express the views of my employer."
Whether you are a first-time homeowner or have owned your own home for many years, winter in the Northeast brings a new "To-Do" list out!
1. Clean out medicine cabinets. The new year is a great time to go through your bathroom medicine cabinets and get rid of any unwanted or expired medications. Take them to a local medication disposal program, police department drop-box or local medication take-back event. Disposal locations can be found here!
2. Check smoke and carbon monoxide detectors. Checking and maintaining smoke detectors takes only a few minutes. Changing the batteries twice a year and testing both smoke and carbon monoxide detectors every month can help protect both your home and your family. Additionally, vacuuming and dusting will keep the alarm clear of dirt and insects.
3. Protect your pipes from freezing. For trips away from home during winter months, leave your thermostat turned up enough to keep the house from freezing. The American Red Cross recommends setting the thermostat no lower than 55 degrees and leaving bathroom and kitchen cabinet doors open to warm exposed pipes. For longer trips away when the weather is expected to dip below freezing, have a friend or neighbor check on your home regularly, and show the person where the water shutoff valve is, just in case.
4. Inspect your home after winter storms. Make a habit of taking a walk around your property after big winter storms to check for damage from fallen tree limbs, ice and snow.
5. Create an emergency kit for your car. Because winters can be unpredictable here in the Northeast, it is wise to create an emergency kit for your car. It could save your life or the lives or your passengers if you are stranded during harsh conditions. Keep an extra cell phone charger in your car as well for emergencies. Here is a helpful, printable Winter Survival Car Kit checklist!
6. Create an emergency kit for your home. One of the primary concerns is the winter weather's ability to knock out heat, power and communications services to your home....sometimes for days at a time. Heavy snowfall and extreme cold can immobilize an entire region. More information on creating an emergency kit for your home can be found here.
7. Check on your elderly neighbors. Colder temperatures keep many senior adults housebound. This time of year is a wonderful time to connect with your neighbors - especially your elderly neighbors and friends! Bring over a warm meal; give a call to see if they need anything at the store if you are making a trip out yourself; check to see if walkways and driveways are clear of ice and snow for someone; go visit and provide some companionship.
8. Feed the birds. Non-migrating birds have it tough during winter months. Keep your bird feeders filled with seed and set out water regularly to provide a water source when most of the water they would normally have access to is frozen. Winter bird watching can be a great pastime.
9. Plan your Spring garden and dream of Spring. Request a bunch of see catalogs, grab a notepad and a pencil and pour yourself a mug of tea - it is time to sketch out ideas for your Spring garden. Pinterest has some great ideas for you to check out and keep you dreaming of Spring.
10. Enjoy the winter beauty of Maine! There is a lot to do during the winter months. You could get cozy at home and embrace the simple pleasures of reading a good book, making a big pot of soup or indulging in an afternoon nap. But you could also get outside and enjoy the beauty of Maine. There are more than 10,000 miles of snowmobile trails scattered throughout the state, as well as skiing, outdoor winter festivals, snowshoeing, ice fishing and more!