STORM – WHAT STORM? WE’RE STILL WORKING!

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Our first real storm of this year hit hard early Sunday evening and finished up by mid-morning on Monday. It was pretty nasty with high winds, drifting snow, poor visibility, and so on.

I woke up early Monday morning and turned on the radio to listen to the list of closures. Schools, universities, community centres, and some businesses were closed. Our offices were also closed.

Finally, after more than three hours of shoveling sidewalks, driveways and helping our neighbours dig themselves out I was now able to get out and go to the office.

When I pulled into the parking lot there were already six cars at the office. One sales rep was negotiating a deal with his buyers and sellers. Another rep was reviewing listings with their client, and yet another was writing up an offer. After I completed what I had to do I returned home to do some more shoveling.

Later Monday evening I was reviewing all the new listings posted to the MLS® for the day. I came across a listing where the listing sales representative obviously took exterior pictures of the house that very morning as evidence by the tracks in the 3-4 foot snowdrifts.

After thinking about the day’s events, all I could think was, KUDOS to all the hard working REALTORS® out there who don’t let a little Canadian snowstorm get in their way!!

 

ARE YOU READY TO CLOSE UP THE COTTAGE?

My family and I recently came back from our annual vacation at the cottage. We have been going to the same cottage resort for 20 years. While driving home I thought about all the cottage owners out there who have to start thinking about closing up there vacation home for the winter months.

I came across some basic tips from the Canada Safety Council that I would like to share.

Water Supply

If your cottage is not winterized, you can take steps to prevent your water supply line from freezing during the winter. You don’t want to arrive there next spring to discover the consequences of not having drained the pipes before you close up this fall. Frozen pipes can burst, causing damage and meaning you’ll have no running water.

Pipes can be fully drained when you’re closing up the cottage. The water supply line can be filled with non-toxic anti-freeze made especially for supply pipes. And pipes that are carefully wrapped at key junction points are better protected against the cold.

As part of your maintenance routine you should also check the inside of your hot water holding tank for residue that can affect water quality and get caught in the faucet screen. Also, you should have your water analyzed regularly by a lab to ensure its quality, especially if the water suddenly shows a yellow or brown tinge. A filtration system can significantly increase the purity level and lessen the wear-and-tear on your cottage water system. This is also the ideal time to thoroughly check your plumbing and faucets after a summer’s wear-and-tear.

Wildlife

Damages from small animals such as mice and squirrels are a concern to cottage owners. Avoid using poisons to keep out these critters that love to move in when you move out. You should remove all food from cottage before you close it. Bats, mice and squirrels can wiggle in through the smallest of holes. Inspect the building inside and out to make sure there are no small openings for them to enter. Place a wooden cover on the chimney to discourage birds and small animals from entering, and to stop any rain or snow. Tightly close your fireplace damper to prevent animals from getting in.

Electrical system

Some people choose to shut off electricity to their home in the off-season by throwing the main switch at the fuse box. If you do this, be sure to turn off all major appliances, your water heater, and electrical room heaters before you turn off the main switch. This will ensure a smoother and safer start-up when you re-open your home.

If you leave your electricity on to operate security systems or lighting, you should turn off the power supply to your major appliances at your main panel. Turn off the power supply to any space heaters. Otherwise they may turn on during cold weather.

To ensure the stove, fridge and other electrical equipment are not used in your absence, remove fuses and hide them in a safe place.

Visually inspect your hydro metre and power lines for damage. If a power line is down or damaged, stay clear and call your Hydro Company. Inspect visible wiring to outdoor lighting fixtures, water pumps and other equipment. If wires are damaged, remove the fuse to that circuit or turn off the circuit breaker, and call a qualified electrician.

Check all household appliance cords. If damaged, unplug the appliance and do not use it until the cord is replaced. If your electrical panel uses fuses, make sure they are screwed in tightly and that you have spares. Don’t use fuses higher than 15 amps in normal receptacles and lighting circuits.

Boat Motors and other power equipment

When storing power boating motors and other power equipment do not drain gasoline from fuel tanks, instead use a fuel stabilizer (available from your dealer or auto parts store). Winterize your engine(s) away from the water. Store boat motors, lawnmowers and other items with engines in a dry, weatherproof place. Cover anything that may rust over the winter with a coat of oil.

If your cottage is in a heavy snow area, consider installing temporary supports to protect the roof from caving in. Another option is to hire a reliable local person to shovel the snow off the roof when necessary.

I hope these tips were helpful and remember that time spent in preventative measures now will pay significant dividends next spring when you open the cottage for next year’s season.

 

 

NOW THAT’S COLD!!!!!!!!

imagesSSQSNPG7Is it cold enough for you? That is a question that has been asked many, many times in the last few days. As soon as someone comes into the office, it is a matter of seconds before you hear that question. I could share some of the responses but I don’t think they are suitable for publication.

I know the forecast for the next few days indicates a bit of a warming trend and you may think this is it for the extreme cold temperatures for this winter, but, you never know what Mother Nature has in store for us. I have decided to share a few safety tips to help you endure these crazy cold temperatures.

If you have to go outside choose clothes that are appropriate for the weather; dress in layers with a wind-resistant outer layer; choose warm socks, gloves, hat and a scarf; and change into dry clothing as soon as possible if clothes get wet. If you are skiing, snowmobiling or skating, be sure to wear a facemask and goggles to protect from frostbite and windburn and keep moving to keep blood flowing. If you drink alcohol before you go outside, it could increase the risk of hypothermia because of increased blood flowing to your extremities.

Not only do we need to protect ourselves from the cold, we also need to protect out home. Always make sure your heating system is well maintained so it can handle the extra stress when it’s much colder outside. If you are heading south for a nice warm vacation it is a good idea to turn off the water supply and drain all the pipes. If you are staying home you should keep the lowest taps in the house open a little so the water keeps moving. This will help prevent the pipes from freezing. If your pipes do freeze never use an open flame to thaw the pipes – use a hair dryer instead.

If you absolutely must go out in your car make sure your gas tank is at least half full and make sure you cell phone is fully charged. You should also have an emergency kit that contains the following items:

  • Ice scraper and snow brush
  • Booster cables
  • Extra clothing and footwear
  • Blankets and sleeping bags
  • Candles
  • Windshield washer fluid
  • Bottled water
  • Granola or energy bars.

I hope this information was helpful. Remember folks, Mother Nature can get very nasty at times so you need to play it safe when you are enjoying this lovely Canadian winter! If you have any tips of your own please share them with your fellow readers.

Are You Prepared?

Freezing Rain? Snowfall warnings? What’s next?

As I sit down to write this blog, we are experiencing our first ice storm of the year. This one is pretty minor, but had this been a substantial storm, with damage to hydro lines and more, would you have been prepared? We are fortunate to live in an area where floods, hurricanes, tornados and more are not annual events, but many of us have become too complacent.

Every family (individual) should have a plan in place in case disaster does strike. As REALTORS® we sometimes see the results of not being prepared, whether it be flooded basements from frozen pipes when the hydro went off for an extended period of time, or fire damage after people use the fireplace or woodstove that they never got around to having checked out…

Also, are you prepared should you have an automobile breakdown, and get stranded for a number of hours in the cold? Keep in mind that a couple years ago, Southwestern Ontario motorist were stranded in a snowstorm for 2 days in their automobiles. Would you have stayed warm, had food and water, and lasted for the 2 days?

There are a number of websites that provide a detailed plan to get prepared. I have listed a few of them below.

http://www.getprepared.gc.ca/index-eng.aspx

http://www.hc-sc.gc.ca/hc-ps/ed-ud/prepar/index-eng.php 

http://www.ready.gov/winter-weather

If you are looking to have your house checked out to be sure its systems are in good shape, speak to your REALTOR®. They should be able to provide you with the names of some contractors/inspectors that can be of assistance to you.