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Preparing Your Home and Car for Wet, Cold Weather

With winter fast upon us, the flood-related damage of last winter is still fresh in the minds of many. And with good reason. By March of 1995, the season's claims for losses to CSAA policyholders had risen to nearly $30 million. That included more than 15,000 claims for storm damage to homes and almost 2,500 storm-related damage claims for automobiles. Also by March, Emergency Road Service had answered 845,597 calls at a cost of nearly $20 million. Winter does not have to break records to increase risks to homes and vehicles. Here are a few tips to help you prepare for winter's hazards:

How to protect your home

  • Clear your home's gutters and roof valleys of leaves and other debris, which can cause water to leak beneath shingles, causing roof and structural damage.
  • Add segments of pipe to downspouts to help push water away from foundations and into areas where the water can safely drain away.
  • Position sand bags to redirect water that might otherwise flow toward the foundation.
  • Drain crawl spaces of standing water that may have accumulated under homes. Standing water can damage foundations and support beams. (Use a sump pump available at hardware or home supply stores
    to remove standing water.)
  • If your home has been flooded do not operate electrical or gas appliances that have been under water until you've been advised by an electrician or utility representative that it is safe to do so.

How to protect your car

  • Check all the obvious safety-related devices - tires, brakes, lights, battery. In addition, check fluid levels; the engine block can freeze without the proper mixture of anti-freeze and water.
  • Check tires for proper pressure and remember that for every ten-degree drop in temperature, tires lose about one pound of pressure.
  • Cold weather can rob up to 30 percent of battery power. If your battery is five years old or more, it may need replacing.
  • Check your wiper blades before driving any distance in inclement weather - frayed ones can smear dirt over the windshield and seriously impair visibility.
  • If you're driving to the mountains, carry emergency items, including chains, shovel, broom, traction mats and abrasive material such as sand to add traction if your car gets stuck in snow or mud.
  • Cars immersed in water may suffer engine damage. If your car has been submerged, have it towed to a competent auto mechanic (check our Service Directory for the name and location of an Approved Auto Repairsm facility near you) and examined before starting it. Fluids and the engine should be tested for the presence of water.

This article was first published in January 1996. Some facts may have aged gracelessly. Please call ahead to verify information.