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Preparing for an Appalachian Winter

By Lacy Hilliard
HOME PREPARATION
Maximizing Energy Efficiency
1. Weather stripping windows and doors is an excellent way to maximize energy efficiency. Applying plastic coverings or thick drapes to drafty windows also works to help you save on energy.
2. Take advantage of the natural warmth the sun provides by opening shades and blinds on south facing windows when the sun is shining.
3. Turning your thermostat down while sleeping can not only save you money on energy costs, studies have shown that sleeping in a cold room is actually beneficial to your health. Turning your thermostat down for at least 8 hours a day can help you save as much as 10% on your energy bills.
4. In older houses, it’s important to look for air leaks. Some common trouble areas are around outdoor faucets, switch plates and electrical outlets, dryer vents, baseboards and attic hatches. If you discover an air leak, caulking and weather stripping can usually provide a fast and cost effective remedy.

Heating Your Home
The most popular types of residential heating in the United States are oil, propane, electricity and natural gas. Out of the four, oil is listed as the most expensive while natural gas comes in as the most cost effective. However, in Johnson County many residents choose to heat with wood. Heating with wood can be extremely effective and many claim that there’s nothing like the heat produced from a wood source. There are a couple different ways to heat with wood:
1. Wood Stove- Wood stoves are very popular in Johnson County and can be an excellent source of heat. It’s important to remember that wood stoves are meant to burn seasoned hardwoods with oak, hickory, ash, beech, sugar maple, yellow birch, hornwood, and apple woods all coming in as the best for heating.
Using wood like white pine not only emits little heat, it also creates a lot of smoke thereby increasing the risk of a chimney fire.
2. Wood Burning Outdoor Furnace- The wood burning furnace is growing in popularity and has proven itself as a real contender in the world of heating. The wood furnace is more effective than the wood stove mostly because of its ability to burn just about anything from soft wood to discarded wooden
pallets.
Both the wood stove and the wood-burning furnace can be used in tandem with many existing heating systems including forced air heat. The heat from the stove or furnace can be piped through the ductwork of a home for a relatively small cost.

Other Tips
1.Put your ceiling fans on reverse. By flipping the reverse switch on ceiling fans, the fan will push the warm air downward, forcing it to recirculate.
2. Add insulation to pipes to prevent them from bursting in freezing temperatures.
3. Make sure all ductwork is properly connected and insulated.
4. Maintain heating systems- It’s a good idea to have your forced air system or furnace professionally maintained before the winter months. Hiring a professional may be an expense but it’s warranted in savings.

VEHICLE PREPARATION
1. Check your antifreeze levels. Believe it or not, cars overheating in the winter months is a concern. If coolant levels are too low, they can freeze in extreme temperatures causing your vehicle to overheat.
2. Ensure that your windshield wiper fluid is an anti-freeze variety.
3. Make sure that your vehicles heating core isn’t leaking and that the blower is functioning properly.
4. Have your battery checked. Winter months can be particularly brutal on a vehicles electrical system. Having your battery tested is a good way to avoid being stranded with a dead battery on a cold winter day. Most auto supply stores will test your battery free of charge.
5. Check your tires. It’s a good idea to purchase new tires prior to the winter months. Like the rest of your vehicle, tires take a beating as the temperature drops and having bald tires in icy conditions is a recipe for disaster.
6. Regular oil changes can be even more important in the winter months. Frosty temperatures cause your vehicles engine to work harder and therefore, it is advisible to check oil levels frequently.
6. Make sure you have an ice scraper and snow brush.
7. Check your brakes. Brake function should be optimized in preparation for the winter months.
8. If possible, keep your car in the garage during the winter. Extreme temperatures can certainly put a strain on a vehicle and cause costly repairs. Keeping a car safe from the elements is an excellent way to extend the life of a vehicle.
9. Wash your car. Many feel that washing their car is a job only suitable for the summer months.
However, salt from treated roadways can quickly errode metal and paint.
Visiting a drive-through car is a quick and simple solution.

SAFETY TIPS
Winter in Johnson County is a beautiful season filled with icy skies, glistening and glittery snow blanketed over fields and pastures and snow capped mountains in every viewable direction. However, because of the many remote areas of Johnson County, winter can also be a treacherous month with many hidden dangers. Below are several safety tips designed to help keep you and your family warm and safe in the winter months.
An emergency kit in your vehicle is essential to avoiding potential disaster. A well prepared emergency kit should include the following:
1. Jumper cables
2. A spare tire and jack.
3. A battery operated radio.
4. Non-perishable high energy foods like protein bars and nuts.
5. Heavy winter clothes such as mittens, socks, hats, etc. These items should be made out of a non-wicking material such as wool.
6. Wool blankets
7. A first aid kid
8. A bag of cat litter or similar material that canprovide traction if your tires begin to spin on the ice.
9. A flashlight with spare batteries.
10. Wooden matches and tea light candles. The heat from just a few tealight candles could be enough to keep you alive in a survival situation.
10. A cell phone. It’s a good idea to always travel with a cell phone in the winter months. Also ensure that your phones battery is fully charged.
11. Brightly colored cloth that could be used to attract the attention of
rescue workers or other passersby.
12. Flares
If you become stranded, do not leave your vehicle unless you know exactly where you are.
To attract the attention of rescuers, light flares and make as much noise as possible by blowing your horn and hang bright-colored cloth from your antenna.
Be sure that your cars exhaust pipe is free of snow and other debris before running the engine. Carbon monoxide poisoning is a tangible hazard.
Keep at least one car window cracks as heavy snow can completely encompass a car and eventually suffocate those stranded inside.
It’s also important to familarize yourself with certain driving techniques that can help you avoid an accident in snowy and icy conditions.
1. Avoid braking
2. Leave plenty of distance between you and the car in front of you.
3. If you begin to slide,
don’t panic. Immediately release your brakes and turn in to the slide.
4. Don’t be overconfident. Owners of four wheel drive vehicles have some of the highest accident rates during winter. The reason is overconfidence. While four wheel drive is helpful in the snow, it will provide little help in icy conditions. Remember to maintain a slow and steady pace regardless of the type of vehicle you drive.
5. Don’t overcorrect. If your vehicle begins to slide, the last thing you should do is brake heavily or turn your wheel hard. These actions will often send a vehicle spinning completely out of control.
While vehicle safety is of extreme importance in the winter, there are also considerations to be made at home.
1. Clean your chimneys prior to the first fire of the season.
2. Check the batteries in smoke detectors and carbon monoxide detectors.
3. Make sure all wood burning stoves are properly ventilated.