Anyone who owns or rents a home knows that it doesn’t maintain itself. Unfortunately. The good news is that when “stuff happens”, whether regular maintenance or something with a much larger hassle factor, the level we are prepared to deal with the situation determines the ease getting back to our definition of “normal”.
The media has shown us about strife inflicted to large sections of communities caused by natural weather disasters, requiring generators for power or back-up plans for housing. We think that just is something that might just happen on the news. Statistically correct, a large natural disaster isn’t likely to happen to your family. What is more likely to happen could be an ice dam on your roof, a plugged up over-flow in your laundry tub or a flat tire in your garage.
In some sense, living in Midwest has its advantages for times when “stuff happens”. The mindset of people raised in a cold climate is very different from those who grew up in the tropics when it comes to the concepts of “preparation” or “preparedness”.
In our climate, our ancestors knew our growing season was short and planned for survival accordingly. They carefully saved seeds at harvest time for the following year’s crops. They canned foods and built homes with heat on the inside which included some form of insulation. Like functional fashionistas, they created the “layered look” to cloth themselves over the long winters. Not having paved driveways yet, they formulated ways to do snow removal and mobilize. Most importantly, they rejoiced in a season of no mosquitoes.
A culture raised generationally in the tropics, although they had to live full time with bugs, knew that food was easily available and shelter requirements were not as stringent. “Preparedness” was not as necessary when the year-around custom for breakfast was to walk out to the grove in the backyard and pick fresh grapefruit.
Unless you’ve moved to Minnesota from someplace balmy or tropical, you know the drill. Having some basic household tools and supplies (and knowing where they are if needed quickly) can range from making household maintenance easy to mitigating a disaster. Cold weather can compound just about any problem, so a little planning can go a long way when it comes to an urgency – or much worse, an emergency.
You may be a new homeowner or liable renter who doesn’t own a hose yet (not on the following list, by the way),or a seasoned homeowner who feels your list would easily double this one. So whether this is new or a review, here is a basic “Household Preparation List” suggesting what you need on hand and be ready for when “stuff happens”:
- Basic tool kit with hammer, screw drivers, some nails, Allen wrenches and pliers
- Flashlights – with fresh batteries always. Keep in bedrooms, foyer and one by the circuit breaker.
- Spare batteries – even the 9V size for when the fire alarm chirps at 2:30 a.m.
- Spare keys for house and vehicles
- Shop vac*
- Snow shovel
- Air compressor*
- Step Ladder – tall enough to manage ceiling light bulbs and the chirping fire alarm safely
- Extra light bulbs – don’t forget about the flood lights outside
- Roof rake* – for ice dam prevention
- Long extension cords (aka: orange cords)
- Oscillating fans
- Large coolers
- Several gallons of bottled water – keep them from freezing
- Space heaters
- Sleeping bags
- Saw and pruning shears
- Vehicles** – well, they are in garage – winter gear, blankets, snow scrapers, etc.
- Let anyone tending to your home while you are gone know where the circuit breakers and water shut off valves are located
* At Richfield Blacktop and Concrete, we are big fans of community, so some of the supplies on your “Household Preparation List” these items might be shared by your neighbors or by more than one household. Get that agreement set up in advance of any potential issue, so if you need to knock on someone’s door in the middle of the night because a pipe burst, they don’t call 911 on you while the Fisher Price toys are floating in your basement.
** Some believe that as long as they are going from a heated garage to the heated underground parking at the office building, they have no need to have warm options in the car in the event of an emergency. Even if you drive extra carefully on that slippery bridge deck while enjoying your latte on the way to work, doesn’t mean the guy who is in the giant SUV who is running late and is not quite as mindful, won’t spill your coffee.
This is Minnesota. It’s Winter. Stuff happens. Plan accordingly.