New England Winter Weather: How to Be Prepared

When the snow first falls, there is nothing quite as beautiful as a New England winter (except maybe a New England fall).  However, if you are not careful, you may spoil your holiday season with having to report to your landlord that the pipes have burst, or having to go to the emergency room because of a bad fall, or your car won’t start and you can’t get to work. From Maine to Massachusetts to Connecticut and all the states in between, New England can have some severe winter storms. Here are some tips to help you be prepared.  

Protect Your Apartment 

A kitchen at Aspen Green
Keep kitchen pipes warm during the Winter in your Aspen Green apartment.

If you are a renter, you need to know what you are liable for and what your apartment community is responsible for doing when there’s rough weather. There will be certain things that you will be responsible for and if you aren’t careful with them, you may face some hefty bills. Plus, winter heating costs are expected to spike this winter. There are simple preventative measures you can take to make sure these disasters don’t happen.   

Frozen/Burst Pipes 

There is nothing worse than having to tell your landlord that the pipes have burst. Plus, it’s a bill we’re sure you don’t need around the holiday season. This is one of the biggest and most costly damages that happen during New England winter storms. If you’ve got pipes that run in unheated areas like kitchen cabinets, garages, etc., then you need to take precautions as they are susceptible to freezing. Here are some tips – of course, dependent on what you are responsible for:  

  • If it gets really cold and the temperature drops below 20 degrees, keep your faucets running slowly at all times. 
  • Keep the cabinets underneath your sinks open so warm air can circulate. 
  • Cover your pipes with insulating foam covers. 
  • Drain and disconnect garden hoses. 
  • Do your best to keep the temperature inside your apartment no lower than 55°F. 
  • If you suspect a pipe has frozen call your landlord or property manager immediately. 

Protect Your Floors 

If your apartment community uses sand and salt on the pathways to prevent slip and fall accidents, you do not want to track them into your apartment. It doesn’t’ matter if you have a carpet or a hardwood floor (a lot of newly constructed communities offer hardwood floors), you need to protect it from possible damage. A fairly inexpensive solution is to invest in a shoe or boot tray and liner that you place either outside your door or right inside the entrance. The tray helps keep all the debris from the elements in the tray and not tracked through your apartment. Plus, the liner will make it fairly easy to clean up. Rubber trays can be found in most home improvement shops and even dollar stores.  

Save Money by Winterizing Your Apartment

Aspen Woods apartment interior
Winterize your apartment at Aspen Woods.
  • During the day set thermostat at 68°F and save 5% on heating costs 
  • When sleeping set thermostat at 55°F and save 5% – 20% on heating costs 
  • Change your HVAC Filter every 3 months and save 4% – 6% on heating costs 
  • If you have a pet, change your HVAC Filter every month 
  • Buy or DIY some draft guards to put underneath your doors 
  • Buy curtains that are made from heavier fabrics or layer lighter and heavier curtains together to save up to 25% on heating costs 
  • Make sure your curtains are as close to the window as possible and let them fall to the floor for optimum effectiveness 
  • Place your furniture slightly away from the walls or inner walls of your apartment 
  • If you have hardwood floors, consider getting an area rug 
  • Invest in a window insulation kit, if this is allowed by your landlord or property manager 
  • Turn your ceiling fans on low in reverse (clockwise when looking up) to circulate warm air. Most ceiling fans have a switch that allows blades to spin clockwise 
  • Inspect fireplaces and chimneys before use and have them cleaned if needed 
  • If you have a fireplace, make sure the damper is closed when not in use or purchase a chimney balloon 
  • Make sure all your vents are not covered up by furniture or accessories 
  • Keep an eye on your smoke detectors and carbon monoxide detectors – test and replace them if needed
  • Pull refrigerators away from the wall and vacuum the fridge coils 
  • Set up your comfy winter bed with a mattress pad, flannel sheets and a thick comforter 
  • Get an electric blanket if your property manager or landlord allows it 
  • Invest in a humidifier or add moisture to your apartment naturally by drying your washed clothes on a drying rack 

Winter Emergency Kit

Like they say in the girl/boy scouts – always be prepared. When New England’s winter weather hits, you will want to have certain things on hand. While it may seem a bit overboard, you never know how severe a winter storm will be. Hope for the best, prepare for the worst is a good motto to live by. Here are some suggestions: 

  • A flashlight 
  • Extra Double AA batteries 
  • A portable battery-powered or hand crank NOAA Weather radio 
  • Non-perishable food 
  • Basic first-aid supplies 
  • A whistle 
  • Local maps 
  • Cash 
  • Copies of important family documents  
  • Fire Extinguisher 
  • Matches in a waterproof container 
  • Candles 
  • Blankets/Sleeping bags 
  • Manual can opener 
  • Make sure you have everything you need for your pet 
  • Charge your cell phone ahead of time 
  • Come up with a family plan of action in case you get separated 
  • Write down important family phone numbers 
  • Designate a contact who is out-of-town that will help you get in touch with your family if you get separated 

Outside 

Icicles forming outside

First check with your property manager or landlord about the proper protocols for de-icing your outdoor area. Some apartment communities prohibit the use of salt. There are alternatives like synthetic de-icing material, kitty litter, or sand. If an ice dam (the ridge of ice that forms at the edge of a roof and prevents melting snow from draining of the roof), should occur, notify your landlord or property manager right away.  

Before a storm hits you will want to make sure your car is in good working order. Check your antifreeze levels, gas, heater, lights, oil, battery, etc. You will want to have a winter emergency kit in your car as well in case you ever get stranded during a blizzard. We suggest keeping the following items in your trunk: 

  • Bottled Water 
  • Blankets 
  • Ice Scrapers 
  • Jumper Cables 
  • Chains 
  • Sand or Kitty Litter 
  • Non-perishable Snacks 
  • First-Aid Kit 
  • Warm Clothes 
  • Get some freeze resistant windshield wiper fluid 

Stay Informed 

Precipitation radar
Source: Wikimedia Commons.

We mentioned a NOAA weather radio in your winter emergency kit. We recommend checking the forecast regularly to keep yourself informed. Sign up for local emergency notifications or alerts. Do your research ahead of time and find out where the closest shelter or warming stations are and have a plan of action. Do the right thing and check in on your neighbors, especially if you know they have young children or if they are elderly. Most importantly – stay indoors; stay off the roads and only travel if it is an emergency. 

While blizzards can be scary, winter in the New England area can be a lot of fun as well. Whether you are thinking of moving to Massachusetts or Connecticut – the fun winter activities are plentiful and family-friendly.  

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