Alaska winter readiness guide: Tips for preparing your home, vehicle and self

This article was originally posted at ADN here by Laurel Andrews.

Winter weather is settling in over Alaska. Are you ready? Here are tips for preparing your home and vehicle, and taking care of yourself during the winter months.


Protect water lines from freezing. Disconnect water hoses from the outside of your house and make sure outdoor water spigots are closed. Make sure you know where the shutoff valves are in your house, so if pipes break, you can turn the water off.


Winterize your home. Check for drafts around water and heating lines, and insulate if you need to. Make sure windows are well sealed. Now is the time to patch up any leaks and replace shingles or metal fasteners on your roof. Clean the gutters so spring runoff moves away from your home unobstructed.


(More information on home energy efficiency can be found online at Cold Climate Housing Research Center and Alaska Housing Finance Corp. Check out this interactive Northern homes page for more tips. Also, some Alaskans may qualify for AHFC’s free weatherization program.)


Have maintenance and inspections done on your heating sources, like furnace and wood stove. Stock up on wood or other fuel.


Along with working smoke alarms, make sure carbon monoxide detectors are installed and have working batteries. Carbon monoxide is odorless and fatal and was responsible for the deaths of at least two Alaskans in the past few months in both Southcentral and the Interior.

The Alaska Department of Homeland Security recommends getting a seven-day emergency kit together for potential disasters, including winter storms that may knock out power.


The kit should include 1 gallon of water per person, per day; food with a long shelf life; flashlights; and first-aid kits. Also recommended are any medications your family needs; a battery-operated radio; a small tool kit, plus items like duct tape and rope; hygiene products, including some bags and a bucket for managing human waste; a heat source that’s safe for indoor use; cellphone chargers; emergency blankets; a whistle and signal mirror; and a generator.


The agency also recommends having an emergency go-bag, which you can grab should you need to leave your home in a hurry. One thing that’s often overlooked? Critical documents, such as birth certificates and insurance information. Having these on hand will speed up your recovery time, should you need to file claims after a disaster.


Lastly, make a plan with your family on what to do in case of an emergency, and afterward.

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