Cold weather can cause all kinds of transportation problems, so don’t put off having your car inspected and serviced now. Below is a checklist of the most important areas of your car to review or inspect in order to be prepared for winter.
- Check all of the fluids. This includes oil, brake fluid, coolant, and windshield washer fluid.
- Have the battery serviced including cleaning the terminal ends and checking cables for wear. If it fails a load test or is more than four years old, replace it.
- Check tire tread for wear. If you drive on remote roads consider replacing all-season tires with snow tires for added traction in snow and ice.
- Make sure tires are inflated properly as cold temperatures will lower pressure. Specifications for your car are usually found on the edge of the door or in the glove box.
- Have your breaks inspected. Control on slick roads is key in the winter.
- Test defroster, heater, and all the lights including turn signals and headlights.
- Replace windshield wipers to ensure best visibility.
- Keep the gas tank full to prevent moisture freezing in the gas lines.
- Carry emergency items. Include a blanket, extra clothing plus boots, gloves, hat, ice scraper, snow shovel, flashlight, flares, kitty litter for traction, jumper cables, a phone charger, and maybe your favorite snacks to get you through that enormous traffic jam on the way home from work.
Hurricane season begins in June and lasts to the end of November. If you live in a coastal area, of course you will want to prepare ahead of time. Below are eight hints and tips to help you prepare:
- Plan – Create a plan for your household and review it with all of its members. Include a place away from home where everyone can meet if they cannot get home. Also, designate a contact away from your immediate area that everyone can call in case of emergency. Keep hard copies of emergency numbers in case cell phone batteries fail.
- Emergency Kit – Put together an emergency kit in a waterproof container and keep it in a handy place. Include items like a battery operated radio, first aid kit, water, non-perishable foods and flashlights.
- Utilities – Know the procedures for shutting down electric, gas, water, etc. Prevent damage from sewers and septic systems with a backflow device.
- Stormproof – Consider reinforcing roof trusses, garage door openings and other vulnerable areas. You may want to install storm shutters. If you board up windows and other openings, have your supplies ready to go. Secure outdoor items. Keep the trees near the house trimmed and consider replacing landscaping gravel and rocks with softer items like bark or mulch.
- Evacuation Route – Review the safest and most direct route to your community shelter should you have to evacuate. Plan to avoid dangerous areas like dams or levees and know alternate routes should yours be blocked.
- Pets – Collars and chips should include your current contact information. Have leashes and carrying cases ready in case of evacuation.
- Check Information – You may be able to sign up with your local government for emergency alerts via phone or email. Make a record of important phone numbers to call for assistance. Don’t forget to have your insurance information handy just in case.
- Cash – When disasters hit and power is out for prolonged periods, cash is king. ATMs don’t work, businesses may not be able to process credit cards for a while and banks may be damaged or closed. Plan ahead and have a reasonable amount of cash available.
The Garage Plan Shop made a New Year’s resolution to enjoy the great outdoors in 2014, and we invited you to do the same. In January we posted a list of ideas for fun and interesting things to do outdoors. Below is another list of ideas to help you renew your commitment to getting outside and enjoying everything around you.
- Catch lightning bugs with your kids on a summer night.
- Take your kids for a nighttime walk around your neighborhood with flashlights.
- Visit local outdoor attractions such as the zoo, a botanical garden, or a natural area.
- Visit a local park you haven’t been to before.
- Plan a road trip and stop at national monuments, historic sites and other points of interest along the way.
- Visit a Civil War battle field.
- Drive one of America’s scenic highways or byways.
- Visit a nearby park several times throughout the year and observe how it changes as the seasons change.
- Learn to identify native trees, flowers and shrubs.
- Learn to identify native birds and those that migrate and only visit your area seasonally.
- Plan a weekend camping trip with your kids or friends to a new campground.
- Schedule a weekly outing with other friends and take your kids to the park for a picnic and to play on the playground.
- Fly a kite.
- Stargaze on a clear night and learn to identify some of the constellations.
- Take a boating safety class.
- Take a class to learn about a new outdoor recreational activity like rock climbing, archery or scuba diving.
- Take your kids apple picking, strawberry picking, to the pumpkin patch, etc.
- Take in Mother Nature’s display of fall colors in a city, state, or town you’ve never visited.
- Enjoy winter sports with your kids like skiing, sledding and ice skating.
- Take your kids horseback riding.
- Hike a new trail once a month.
- Teach a child about an outdoor sport you love.
- Participate in a charity event or fundraiser such as a walk or fun run.
- Get involved in a neighborhood beautification project such as picking up litter along roadways or planting flowers at a community garden.
The birds are chirping. The days grow longer. The sun seems warmer. It must be spring. No more hesitation. It is time to get outside and prepare your lawn for the hot days of summer. Below are a few hints to help you get started:
1. Rake – Using a lawn sweeper or a good old fashioned rake, remove accumulated debris like sticks, leaves and litter. Raking also helps to remove dead weeds and grass. Thick lawns may require a dethatcher.
2. Aerate – You can aerate the ground by poking holes with a garden fork. This is especially critical if you have heavy clay soil. This will allow water and fertilizer to saturate the soil giving your lawn a jump start.
3. Fertilize – This replenishes the food reserves that the plants use up in the winter months. Apply an organic fertilizer or compost tea. This is accomplished by soaking compost in water then spraying the liquid on the lawn.
4. Weed – By using a pre-emergent weed killer, you give the grass a chance to grow tall and strong without competition from weeds.
5. Reseed – Reseed bare areas. Over-seed the entire lawn if it appears patchy or thin.
6. Mow – As soon as the grass is growing it is time to start mowing. Sharpen up your blade as a dull one causes brown dried out edges on the grass. Also it will tear out new growth. Don’t cut it too short. It is better to mow more often than too short. Keeping the lawn at a proper height, 2 1/2 to 3 inches tall allows the roots to fully develop.
The Garage Plan Shop is making a New Year’s resolution to enjoy the great outdoors in 2014, and we invite you to join us. Whether you never go outside for fun and enjoyment, or you take an opportunity to enjoy the great outdoors every chance you get, we are certain you can find a few things on our list that you’ll enjoy doing outside throughout 2014. Our world is full of exciting places to see and fun things to do that are centered on outdoor activity. You can find them anywhere from your own backyard and neighborhood to neighboring states and all the way across the country. Below is just a sampling of the things we hope your do this year to enjoy the great outdoors:
- Plant a garden this spring/summer (flower or vegetable) and cultivate it throughout the growing season.
- Teach a child to play baseball, soccer, freeze tag or another childhood game in your backyard.
- Visit a state park.
- Visit a national park.
- Plan a road trip to another climate zone or geographic region and explore how it is different from where you live.
- Take a float trip down one of our country’s scenic rivers.
- Go camping with your kids and show them how to roast marshmallows or make S’mores.
- Ride your bike on a bike path you’ve never been to before.
- Enjoy more outdoor meals. Grill and dine outside with your family on the porch or deck.
- Take up outdoor photography.
- Try going birding at a nearby park, wetland, nature area or conservation center.
- Go boating with friends and/or family.
- Share your knowledge about hunting or fishing with a child and take him or her on an outing to experience your love of the sport.
- Try something you’ve never done like backpacking, wind surfing, or snow skiing.
- Visit another state and learn to identify unfamiliar wildlife, trees, flowers and other natural elements.
- Spend a weekend afternoon at a winery.
- On workdays, pack your lunch and eat outside instead of going to the lunch room/cafeteria.
- Spend an afternoon walking around a historic or quiet country town.
- Host a backyard barbecue for family, friends and neighbors.
- Volunteer to help at an organized event to clean up local streams, lakes or hiking trails.
This list is just the beginning of all the fun activities you can do outdoors by yourself or with your kids, neighbors, friends and co-workers. We are sure you’ll think of many more things you might like to do outside. So join us in 2014 and make an effort to spend more time outside and enjoy the great outdoors!