1. Check doors, windows and any exterior opportunities for winter to enter your home. Caulk cracks and replace cracked or broken glass and dried-out or missing weatherstripping and seals.
2. Inspect and clean gutters and downspouts.
3. Inspect, repair or replace flashing, roof shingles or tiles. If needed, add attic insulation to prevent ice dams along the edge of the roof, which can cause water damage to roofs and ceilings.
4. Get the fireplace and furnace ready. Buy or chop firewood and inspect damper and chimney. Have the furnace inspected, clean the ducts, stock up on filters, and inspect or replace the thermostat.
5. Inspect, update, or install smoke and carbon monoxide detectors as well as fire extinguishers.
6. Protect pipes. Insulate exposed pipes, and drain and close off A/C pipes or exterior hose bibs. If you plan a vacation, be sure to leave heat set at least to 55 degrees.
7. Reverse ceiling fans. In the summer, ceiling fans force breezes downward. In winter, reversing the direction of air flow forces the warm air at ceiling height back down along the walls, from where it will rise again, keeping the overall room temperature at a more comfortable level with less need for heating.
8. Prepare landscaping and gardens. Trim dead tree limbs or any branches that are hanging so close to the house or electrical wires that they could cause damage when weighted by ice. Bring sensitive plants indoors or move to greenhouse. Seal or repair sidewalks, driveways, patios, and decks.
9. Service winter equipment. Is your snowblower ready for action? Do you have snow shovels and ice choppers and adequate bags of sand or ice melt for icy surfaces?
10. Assemble an emergency kit. Include first aid supplies, flashlights, candles, lanterns, extra batteries, nonperishable food, and bottled water.