(Family Features) - As temperatures dip and snow flakes start to fall, your home will require extra maintenance to keep it in shape throughout the winter.
Here are a few simple steps you can take to prepare your home for colder weather.
Smart Stock Up: Check shovels, snow blowers and ice scrapers to ensure they are in working order, and replace or repair any that are damaged or worn. Stock your car and garage with appropriate winter supplies (shovels, scrapers, blankets, flashlights, etc.), and don't forget to keep walkways safe for your family and neighbors with ice melt.
Not all ice melters are effective in melting ice at subzero temperatures, and some melters can harm sidewalks, driveways and vegetation more than others. Some products on the market claim to be pet-safe but actually contain chlorides which can be harmful to pets digestive systems if ingested, and which can be painful or irritating to pets' paws. Look for a brand of ice melter from a company that validates its ice melter performance claims using third party testing, such as Morton's line of salt-based and salt-free melters. Also, purchase melters specifically designed to melt in your climate and that meet your safety needs.
Careful Clean Up: The harsh winter weather can be dangerous for your lawn and plants. Snow, wind, sleet and ice can result in weak tree trunks and broken branches that can damage your house, car or even worse, someone on your property. As winter approaches, don't forget to cover your plants and trim your trees to get rid of those dead branches. Also be sure to clean the gutters on your house to prevent water from building up and freezing.
Cautious Check Up: Check all doors and windows for cracks or areas where cold air could seep in, and use caulk and weather-stripping to seal those drafty spots. Make sure all steps, handrails, sidewalks and driveway are in good shape. Broken stairs and cracked cement become even more dangerous when covered with snow and ice. All deicers can accelerate surface damage to concrete, since they increase the number of freeze-thaw cycles. In order to prevent additional cracks from forming in good quality concrete due to the use of deicing agents, use an ice melter such as Morton Safe-T-Plus ice melt, which contains ingredients that reduce the amount of surface damage to concrete and paved surfaces compared to rock salt.
Prepared Pack Up: Create a winter emergency kit for both the home and car. For your home, be sure to have indoor candles, matches and batteries on hand in case of a power shortage. You never know how long the power might be out, so having non-perishable food, water bottles and blankets are essential. Write down important phone numbers and tape them inside the kit. For your car, have extra blankets, road flares, and a flashlight available in case of a roadside emergency. It is important to keep both a first aid kit and an emergency kit in your car as well. Keep Morton Safe-T-Salt Rock Salt in the trunk to weigh the car down to in order to provide additional stability when driving on a slippery road. If your car is stuck in snow or on ice, spread this product generously under the wheels to provide traction.
For more product details and other winter tips, visit www.mortonmelters.com