Get Your Home Hibernation Ready
Winter is coming – Get your home ready!
The first snowfall may have already come (and hopefully gone) but it’s not too late to prepare your home for Winter.
Living in Alberta, or anywhere else for that matter, where the weather changes quickly, we know how cold and miserable it can get both inside and outside our homes. Preparing for winter while it’s happening is stressful and difficult – it’s a much better idea to be prepared in advance with these tips to get your home and family ready for the cold winter ahead.
Clean out your garage
Like your traditional spring cleaning, consider scheduling a traditional 'fall cleaning' of your garage. Organize the remains of your summer projects and clean and store gardening tools. Like a seasonal turning of your closet, push what you won't need any longer like your lawn-mower, hedge trimmer, rakes and summer toys to the back and bring any winter necessities like: shovels, snow blowers, skis and sleds to the front. Set out salt and gravel containers, and you'll thank yourself when the snow arrives.
Cut the water
Pipes can freeze and rupture in the coldest temperatures, and this can cause external and internal damage to the home. To prevent this problem, turn off the water to all external spigots and then drain the hoses. Homes with an exterior sprinkler system should also hire a professional to blow out your system so it can be closed down for the season.
Prepare your hearth Santa & Fires
Homes with a working chimney tend to rely on it heavily during the colder months, and this makes routine service during the fall essential. A clean chimney not only reduces the risk of a fire hazard, but it also eliminates harmful toxins from lingering in the air.
Your furnace needs an annual checkup
Is your heating system ready to weather the winter? Have a professional check your heating system and ensure it's in good working order before you turn it on. Schedule checks for your furnace and venting system. Don't forget to replace the batteries in smoke and carbon monoxide detectors, in case any of your heating systems are overworking.
Pad your pipes
A small frozen pipe can cause big household damage if it bursts, so pad your pipes to prevent floods. Grab some tubular pipe insulation sleeves from your local hardware store and set to task covering exposed pipes in unheated areas, such as a basement, attic, crawl space or cabinet. The pipe sleeves are easy to apply and can be cut to fit. Cover all exposed parts, including bends and joints. Finally, seal the seams with duct tape. With that simple task, you're not only preventing considerable water damage, but also conserving energy.
Northern Alberta Wildfires – State of Emergency Update
Fort McMurray Alberta Wildfire
Alberta Government Update: Northern Alberta & Fort McMurray Wildfire (May 6th 2:30 p.m.)
Public safety remains the key priority as the wildfire in Fort McMurray continues to burn. Provincial fire crews continue their efforts to reduce the threat to property and infrastructure.
• The Alberta government has declared a provincial state of emergency.
• The mandatory evacuation order remains in effect for:
- Fort McMurray
- Gregoire Lake Estates
- Fort McMurray First Nation
• There are currently six reception centres operating within the province. Details are available on the Alberta government emergency updates website.
• All evacuees whether they’re staying with friends and family or at hotels, must register by calling the Red Cross at 1-888-350-6070 or now online for (for families under 7 people) Register here: http://ow.ly/4nv8QH.
• Evacuees who had to leave animals at home call 780-743-7000 Pulse or 780-788-4200 Regional Municipality of Wood Buffalo
There are currently 11 reception centres operating within the province. Additional details are available on the Alberta government emergency updates website:
- Fort McKay – Fort McKay Business Centre
- Lac La Biche – The Bolt Centre – 8702-91 Avenue
- Edmonton – Northlands Grounds, Hall A – 7515-118 Avenue
- St Paul – Centennial Recreation Centre – 4802-53 Street
- Moose Haven- 1, Janvier *expected to close May 5
- Grasslands – Community Hall, Main Street
- Drayton Valley – Omniplex – 5737-45 Avenue
- Smokey Lake Reception Centre
- SAIT - Residence Tower 151 Dr. Carpenter Circle NW *For Suncor Employees and Evacuees in camps
- Fort Chippewan Reception Centre *For First Nation Band Members only
- Town of Athabasca Reception Centre – Athabasca Multiplex, #2 University Drive
Information for affected residents
• Evacuated residents should retain all their receipts for food purchases, accommodations and other related expenses to provide to their insurer for possible reimbursement.
• A boil-water advisory has been issued by the Regional Municipality of Wood Buffalo. This advisory also affects camps within the region.
• Area camps that get water from EPCOR, or any provider other than the Regional Municipality of Wood Buffalo, are not affected and do not need to boil water, at this time.
Please Note: Fort McKay residents do not need to boil water prior to using. This boil water advisory excludes Fort McKay.
• Albertans can stay informed on latest developments by downloading the Alberta Emergency Alert and Alberta Wildfire apps.
• Alberta Health Services has issued an Air Quality Advisory for the Fort McMurray area; residents are advised to take appropriate precautions.
• Mental health support is available by calling Alberta’s 24-hour Mental Health Help Line at 1-877-303-2642.
Closures and affected services
• All provincial offices in Fort McMurray are closed due to the evacuation.
• Motorists should not travel to Fort McMurray on either Highway 63 or Highway 881. Only essential travel should be undertaken.
• Highway 63 is closed at the Airport Road Junction. Only southbound traffic may pass through the barricade.
• There are traffic controls in place at Highway 63 and 881. Priority is given to emergency responders. Southbound traffic is allowed.
• Traffic controls are in place at Highway 63 and 55 at Atmore Drive. Only traffic to Wandering River is allowed to pass.
• Traffic controls are in place at Highway 851 and 881. Drivers are allowed to travel as far as Conklin.
Donations and volunteers
• The Canadian Red Cross is accepting donations via phone, online or through text message. Details can be found at www.redcross.ca.
• At this time, we are not seeking volunteers.
Emergency Fuel Locations
- Approximately 60 km south of Fort McMurray (Kilometre 186);
- Approximately 100 km south of Fort McMurray at Mariana Lakes (Kilometre 130); and
- Approximately 165 km south of Fort McMurray (Kilometre 85)
• If you have personal identification and a means to pay, please visit any community pharmacy to have your prescriptions looked up online through Netcare.
• If you do not have personal identification, please visit an evacuation centre. Medical staff or pharmacists will assess you and will either administer necessary drugs or provide a bridging prescription, with directions to community pharmacies that can assist.
• Resources are also available through the Alberta Health Services website
• Emergency Updates
• Canadian Red Cross
• Alberta Emergency Alert app
• Alberta Wildfire app
• Red Cross Evacuees Online Registration
A great article on how to talk to your children about a natural disaster like the wildfires READ ARTICLE
Fall Home Maintenance Musts
Clean the Gutters
After leaves have fallen, clean out the gutters and downspouts, flush them with water, inspect joints, and tighten brackets if necessary. Clogged gutters are one of the major causes of ice dams. Replace old or damaged gutters with new ones that have built-in leaf guards.
Be sure to caulk around windows and doorframes to prevent heat from escaping. “Caulking and sealing openings is one of the least expensive maintenance jobs,” says Michael Hydeck, Hydeck Design Build, Inc. “Openings in the structure can cause water to get in and freeze, resulting in cracks and mold buildup,” he says.
Inspect the Roof
Make sure the roof is in good shape. Inspect for missing and loose shingles. "Ice, rain, snow, and wind combined with rapidly changing temperatures and humidity wreak havoc on roofs," says Jay Butch, Director, Contractor programs for CertainTeed Roofing. "Your roof is your first defense in protecting your home. It’s better to proactively deal with repairs in the fall than to discover a leaky roof during a snowstorm."
Ready the Fireplace
Have your heating system checked by a licensed heating contractor. Heating systems will use fuel more efficiently, last longer, and have fewer problems if properly serviced. Get your wood stove and fireplace in working order. Gary Webster, Creative Director of Travis Industries, suggests that you examine your wood stove or fireplace insert’s door gasket for a tight seal.