People move to the mountains to feel closer to nature. They enjoy spectacular views overlooking forests and rivers. They have their own space in which they can do as they please, with no neighbors to worry about. They love to breathe in the crisp, country air and paddle in freshwater creeks. They enjoy the peace and tranquility of it all. They spend their time observing the plants and animals around them. It’s a rural idyll.
Of course, when we picture this idyllic scene in our mind’s eye, we are usually imagining a mountain scene in the picturesque seasons of spring, summer or fall. While winter is equally picturesque, it’s not quite as easy to imagine yourself having so much fun in winter, apart from the odd snowball fight or perhaps enjoying a hearty meal by the fire, looking out as the snow falls.
The reason for this is that mountain winters can be very tough. It’s quite common for people to underestimate the difficulties and dangers of spending the winter up in the mountains and therefore, it’s imperative that you spend time preparing yourself as best you can.
Winter is coming
One thing you’ll probably be expecting is snow. Common and sensible ways to prepare for snowfall in your area include ensuring you have ways to clear it away from where it might cause a hazard. People will often stock up on salt and purchase a sturdy snow blower. It can be at this point that some start to make poor choices. Snow blowers which run on gas are usually sturdier and more powerful than their electric counterparts. Not only that, they are not restricted in range by the machine’s power cord. As a result, many people decide to go with a gas-powered snow blower as the best option for protecting their home over the winter. However, this can often turn out to be a spectacularly bad calculation. The main drawback of these snow blowers is that they use gasoline.
In rural mountain areas, heavy snowfall can easily cut you off from towns by blocking roads, causing avalanches, floods etc. In such circumstances you are unlikely to have access to a gas station and it may be just a matter of time until your supply is used up, particularly if you are using a gas generator, too. That’s why buying an electric snow blower is often the better choice for those in rural homes. Granted, it’s more delicate and its other downside is that it’s corded. That’s much better, however, than having a more powerful, uncorded snow blower when you’ve run out of gas.
If you expect to need to use a vehicle in the winter months, you should most likely either be looking at a 4×4 with a powerful engine and chained tires or a snowmobile. Avoid traveling as much as possible – make stockpiles of things you’re expecting to need. In very cold areas you can switch off your freezers and use a secure container outdoors to store food in – saving you both storage space and, more importantly, power.
Preparing for colder times
Ensure your family has warm clothing, rubber hot water bottles, waterproof mountain boots, gloves etc. Seal off areas which tend to leak heat, but ensure that your house is still ventilated and monitored for excess smoke and carbon dioxide. If you have an indoor fire, sweep the chimney before winter arrives. A blocked chimney can cause smoke to get trapped in your house and can also be a fire hazard.
Insulate your water heater and keep it running. If you’re in any doubt as to what to do, follow the instructions from the manufacturer, or contact a local plumbing service and follow their advice. Water heaters are at the greatest risk of breaking during winter due to the extreme differences in temperatures. The same applies to your piping which should be protected at all times. Try to expose piping to the heat of your house to help them avoid freezing and cracking.
A word of warning
If you haven’t already, install an ice shield for your roof. To protect the integrity of your roof is to protect the integrity of your whole home. Ice shields are easy to install and effective in their use.
Winter in the mountains can be dangerous, and it’s extremely important that you be prepared. However, this doesn’t mean that you won’t enjoy it. Winter is perhaps the most dramatic and spectacular of all seasons and, as long as you’re safe, will give you another reason to be thankful you moved to the mountains.