Your Winter Home – Making it Right for the Family
In the summer my family spends most of our time out-of-doors. We work and play outdoors. We eat outdoors. Sometimes we even sleep outdoors. But when winter comes, our house is our haven. My wife and I do everything we can to make our home comfortable and enjoyable for our children. We want our kids to want to stay at home and to bring their friends here, especially now that they are teenagers and have interests of their own.
Here’s what we do to get the house ready for family time in the winter.
Safe and Warm
We heat with wood, mostly. (We do have a gas furnace for the really cold days, or days when we are gone all day.) I cut and split wood all year round to make sure we have enough dry, seasoned wood for the winter. Well before winter comes the wood is neatly stacked and ready to be used.
I also keep a supply of kindling in a wooden storage bench. I make sure the bench and anything else that’s flammable is at least 18 inches from the wood stove.
The wood stove is the center of family life in winter. Before we use it I clean it all out and make sure it’s in perfect working order. We have a new stove, and it burns much cleaner than the older ones. I also make sure to check the fireplace damper to ensure it’s working properly.
I have a chimney sweep come in to make sure all’s okay in that department. Because we only burn seasoned hardwood, our chimney stays pretty clean, not much creosote buildup. Creosote, as you probably know, is a major cause of chimney fires.
I also put up winter drapes. We live in the country and don’t have near neighbors, so in summer we go curtain-less. But in winter we need the extra warmth. We had thermal-lined curtains made to order for the family room; they are quite attractive and they keep the cold out at night.
Unseen Safety Chores
I do a number of chores to keep my family safe that they don’t even know about. But, believe me, if I didn’t do them, we might all be very unhappy.
What I’m talking about are things like:
· Replacing batteries in smoke alarms, flashlights, and carbon monoxide detectors;
· Inspecting the fire extinguishers and replacing them if they are not in good working order;
· Making sure we have a good supply of ice melt, and that it’s easy to get to;
· Stocking up water in case we lose power. A gallon a day for each of us, including the dog, for three days;
· Checking and refilling the emergency kit. We’ve never used it, but sometimes things get “borrowed” and not put back; and
· Sealing foundation cracks and holes so rodents can’t get in. Rodents aren’t just annoying pests, they can chew the insulation off electrical wires and cause fires.
We also stock up on the latest games that we can play as a family. Last year we got a ping-pong table for the basement. Maybe we’ll get something smaller this year for the family room. That’s the kids’ job – to recommend games.
When it comes to games, the old standbys still come out on top. Monopoly, Clue, Scrabble, and card games are still popular with our teens and their friends. This winter we’re all going to learn chess.
I hope you and yours enjoy your winter and stay safe.
Stan Horst lives and works in the beautiful Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia. He and his family enjoy outdoor activities, including winter sports. Stan is a former cabinetmaker. Now he shares his knowledge of fine carpentry on his website www.betterbenches.com, where he helps people choose the perfect bench. Stan’s personal favorite is the Kingsley Bate bench.