As daylight hours get shorter, and evening temperatures start to drop, the rush is on to make the most of the final days of summer. Nearing the start of another school year means getting kids ready for a shift in routine and makes a good time to ensure you and your family are well prepared for the fall.
Settling into a new everyday life for the school year usually marks a change in everyone’s schedules. This is an ideal time to review and adjust your family’s emergency plan. A good plan will include where to go both inside and outside the home in case of an emergency. Be sure to include a clear description of where to meet and find someone who can be an out-of-town contact in case of emergency. Confirm all emergency contact information is up to date.
Parents can create an Emergency kit that includes food and water, any medications, and photocopies of important documents. Be sure all family members know where to find the kit. Ensure family pets are part of your plan, and practice how to get everyone to safety.
Practice makes perfect, so do a few rehearsals to get everyone into the rhythm. Make things fun by using your rallying point as a jump-off point for a trip for ice cream, or even a weekend away.
The start of the school year is also an ideal time to check over your home and plan for fall maintenance. By inspecting various features of your home early, you can schedule any repairs or seasonal service before anything becomes urgent. To help you get started, consider this list:
- Early September is an ideal time to check your eavestroughs. The weather is still good, but not hot. Clear out any debris and look for clues of any other issues. Make sure that all eavestroughs are securely attached to your home, and that all downspouts are draining properly. Check for any corrosion or other damage. Use mesh covers to help keep falling leaves and other debris from clogging up the gutters;
- While you’re checking the eavestroughs, take a look at your roof. A lot of shingle granules in your gutters can indicate it’s time to have your roof replaced. To stay safe and avoid a risk of falling, use a pair of binoculars to inspect the roof as closely as possible. Check ridges for any wind damage or curled up shingle corners. Review all metal flashing around vents or chimneys and in the valleys of the roof;
- Have professionals check your heating systems. Make sure that furnaces and humidifiers are running well and have fresh filters, and schedule appointments for any bigger maintenance needs. This is often left to the last minute, meaning a potentially long wait for help. Have fireplaces and chimneys inspected, and order firewood if you haven’t already;
- Check over walkways, porches, and your driveway and make a plan to address any problems. Once fall rains and early snow starts to fall, fixing these issues becomes far more complicated; and
- Review a list of winter preparations. While winter may seem a long way off, a few minutes spent making a checklist will save you from wondering later. Be sure to include checks of the CO2 and smoke detectors, as well as fire extinguishers – and make sure everyone knows how to use them. Check over snow shovels and make sure you have ice melter on hand. Don’t forget to turn off all water lines that lead outside your home.
Where you can, include your kids in this process. Make a game out of inspecting the roof with binoculars to see who can find the most problems. The same can be done in checking over walkways and driveways – you could even include coloured sidewalk chalk. Be sure to include your neighbors. Your family’s meeting point might be at a nearby friend’s house. Combining efforts on yard work and home checks will make the process go much faster. Your neighborhood may even want to request fire extinguisher training from your municipality. For example, the City of Oshawa takes requests for a training session for groups that include kids as young as 10 years of age.
It can be hard to put in extra work after a relaxing summer season, but taking the time before temperatures drop and cold rains start to fall means you can relax inside with a cup of hot chocolate instead of hustling at the last minute.