Spring Cleaning

I can still remember a lot about my Great Grandmother. Born in 1895, in a very rural community, she was a firm believer in ‘spring cleaning’. This usually occurred on the first warm day in March or April, and it involved opening the windows for fresh air, getting out the ammonia for cleaning, and taking out the rugs for a firm beating on the clothesline.  I was pretty young, but I can remember being amazed at the amount of ‘stuff’ that was in a rug that had been vacuumed all winter. I would love to see the look on my neighbors faces if I did this feat at home this spring. Heck, I’d love to see their faces if I put up a clothesline!

I no longer perform spring cleanings like that. But I do have the following list of things I try to do on the first warm days of the year.

  • Like my grandmother, I like to open the windows and let in the fresh air. This is also a chance to check the screens for damage and get them repaired before the bugs arrive.
  • Take a walk around your homes exterior to look for clogged or damaged gutters and downspouts. Cleaning gutters is not fun. But it’s less fun in the rain.
  • While you’re out there, also look for damaged or loose siding, facia, and soffits.
  • Take a few steps back and take another walk around your home. This time, take a look at the roof for damaged shingles. If anything looks suspect, call a roofer. They’re usually happy to take a look around up there and see if there’s minor damage or something that can qualify for an insurance claim.
  • Winter freezing and thawing can also cause landscaping to shift. It’s best to get that fixed before the spring rains cause further damage.
  • Now’s the time to wash away the winter collection of gunk on your windows. If you’re not a fan of window cleaning, contact your local firehouse. Those folks are great at cleaning windows.
  • Check for bird nests on your home while you’re out there too. Having birds nesting on your light fixtures causes a mess. But let’s face it, you’re not going to take it down once there’s eggs in it.
  • When it gets above 65 degrees, I like to check the air-conditioning system before the hotter weather arrives. Running the A/C when it any cooler, or when there’s a chance that ice could still be on the unit, can damage the system. So it’s best to wait.

These are just a few chores I do when the weather gets warmer. What are some of the steps you take on those first nice days?

Thanks for reading. Please like and share!
And remember to take the next step.

Fall Auto Checkup

Fall has officially arrived. And Winter is just around the corner. In colder climates, winter is especially hard on our automobiles. The sub-freezing temperatures can cause badly mixed engine antifreeze to freeze and crack an engine, washer fluid to freeze up and leave a messy windshield, and reduce tire life by reducing tire pressure. So it’s best to get a jump on things before those temps arrive.

Here are a few short steps to ensure your auto is prepared for winter.

  1. Ensure your engine’s antifreeze mixture will protect against the lowest possible temperatures it may experience during the winter. Then subtract another 20 degrees just to make sure. There are different types of antifreeze for different engines. Always check your car’s manual, or with a car care professional, to ensure the right antifreeze and mixture are being used.
  2. Make it a point to exhaust your current windshield wiper fluid and refill it with something rated for extreme cold. Having working washers when they’re needed makes this process worth the hassle.
  3. Remember to periodically check your tire pressure as the days get progressively cooler. The dropping temperatures reduce tire inflation pressures; reducing tread life.
  4. If you own a diesel with a block heater, do a ‘pre-needed’ block heater check before it gets really cold to ensure it’s working.
  5. Check your tire treads for excessive wear. The penny test for 2/32 of an inch was to place a penny, head-first, into the tire tread. The tread would come to the top of Lincoln’s head. In my opinion, this isn’t enough tread for winter. It should be at least double this. So it’s best to check now to determine if you’ll need a new set of tires before bad weather arrives.
  6. Of course, it’s a good time to review your auto’s emergency preparations. To see a checklist of supplies which should be kept on hand, see my previous post at https://www.stepsfortoday.com/home-organization/emergency-prep-for-the-car/.

As always, thanks for reading.  If you have a moment, please Like this page and consider sharing this post it with others. It’s greatly appreciated.

And remember to take the next step…



Winter Prep 101

It’s that time of year again. The forecast is for freezing nights. And here in the Midwest, we all know it’s just a matter of time until we can expect some dangerously cold and slick weather.  So today we’ll focus on taking some proactive steps to reduce the hazards for ourselves and our loved ones. Let’s take a quick look around our house for what we can do.

In the home:

  • Replace smoke and carbon monoxide detector batteries. Install carbon monoxide detectors in areas with heaters or appliance that burn fuel.
  • Schedule a furnace checkup, especially if one hasn’t been done in a while
  • Make sure there is a fully charged fire extinguisher readily available.
  • Purchase small electric space heaters to help heat areas with plumbing just in case there is a furnace problem. If you must use an extension cord with a space heater, make sure to get a 12/3 (12 gauge/3 prongs) grounded cord. Never use a light duty cord with a heating device.
  • Solar and/or hand-crank recharging devices with a USB output port
  • Have a flashlight in a known location with fresh batteries. There are now flashlights that can recharge through a USB port.
  • Cell phone chargers and backup power supplies
  • Battery operated or hand-crank radio with replacement batteries
  • Ensure that important documents, information, and heirlooms are stored in a protected location.

Outside the home:

  • Check to make sure outside water faucets and completely off and not dripping. Any leak at all will allow the water to freeze all the way up into the pipe and cause it to burst.
  • Snow shovel and/or blower
  • Salt or ice melt already in containers that are manageable by everyone who might need to use it
  • Backup power supply for medical equipment with fuel for at least 7 days
    • Periodically start and run fuel powered generators
    • Refresh fuel supplies as needed and add fuel stabilizer to gasoline supplies.

In the car:

  • Ice scraper
  • Car charges for phones
  • Flashlight with batteries or charger
  • A small shovel for removing snow or mud from in front of the tires
  • Salt for melting ice and traction
  • Tire chains if you live in an area with frequent, deep snows
  • Warm blankets in case the car is stranded and fuel is in short supply
  • Boots, hats, and gloves in case the car is stranded and you must walk to safety
  • Fuel up automobiles when dangerous weather is forecasted. Especially if they may be needed for evacuation
  • A plastic container big enough to hold all of this

Helping others:

  • Create a plan with a team of family, friends, or neighbors to check on each other during bad weather.
    • Write down a list of conditions for which a check-in should be expected
  • Help your neighbors with snow removal and taking out the trash and morning paper.
  • Leave behind some salt or ice melt already in containers that are manageable by everyone who might need to use it

An Emergency Kit

  • You may want to create and emergency kit containing a minimum of 7 days of resources, depending on the threats in your area. In addition to the above items, it should contain:
    • A team of people who will check-in with each other when the weather turns hazardous
    • Food and water, emergency medical and sanitation supplies, and prescription medications
    • Propane or solar powered refrigerator for medications which must be kept cool
    • Hand operated can opener
    • Matches and/or lighters
    • Rechargeable flashlights and/or battery operated lighting with replacement batteries
    • Alternative heat source such as a kerosene heater or fireplace-ONLY if you know its proper use indoors to avoid the dangers of poisonous gases
    • Make a routine to check your kit and team to make sure their still up to the task. This is as easy as writing a reminder on your calendar to review your plan.
      • Review kit contents twice a year and replace kit batteries
      • Monthly check that battery-powered backup power supplies still hold their charge

Although everyone is exposed to these dangers, we all know someone who is at a greater risk when bad weather comes their way. Please share this message with them. Or better yet, assist them in preparation of their emergency plan and in finding someone who can check on them. Having the reassurance that someone will think of them when bad weather occurs will undoubtedly provide some peace of mind.  And too….some of this would make excellent Christmas presents.

I’m always looking for suggestions and feedback. Please take a moment to suggest any items that you believe should be on this list. And please share this list with anyone highly vulnerable to the effects of bad weather.

As always, thanks for reading.
And remember to take the next step…

More information regarding disaster preparedness can be found at https://www.ready.gov and http://www.redcross.org/get-help/prepare-for-emergencies/types-of-emergencies/winter-storm.