Winter checklist: prepare for snow and ice

Melanie Whitehouse / 16 January 2019

Our straightforward checklist for making your home home and garden gets through the worst of the winter weather.



With some forecasters predicting icy weather, we've come up with some top tips to help you stay safe in the cold.

House and garden checklist

The building itself

  • Check for loose or missing tiles and get them fixed
  • Clear gutters and drains of fallen leaves and other debris
  • Patch up cracks in outside walls to stop the damp getting in

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The garden

  • Cover barbecues and outdoor tables with tarpaulins or bespoke covers
  • Move garden ornaments or statues inside, where the frost can't reach them
  • Either move vulnerable plants in pots inside, or cover with fleece
  • Don't walk on lawns when they're frosty or you'll damage the grass underneath

Indoors

  • Inside, wipe condensation off windows, so the moisture doesn't damage paintwork
  • If cold weather is forecast and you're going away, leave the central heating on low
  • Open the hatch of your loft, so the space in the roof stays above freezing, particularly if it's home to a cold water tank and pipework

When snow is forecast

  • Keep a snow shovel handy to clear paths
  • Make sure you have enough wood and coal for your fire, and (if relevant) enough fuel for your heating system
  • Stock up on non-perishable food, for yourself and pets, plus any vital medicines
  • Invest in rock salt to sprinkle on doorsteps and paths to stop you slipping – or use table salt, but it's expensive in large quantities
  • Keep shoes with a good grip by the door, or invest in snow grips that slip onto soles
  • In case of power cuts, keep candles, matches, torches, batteries, first-aid kit and other emergency supplies where you can find them. Don't let candles burn unattended
  • Check on elderly neighbours
  • Avoid over-exerting yourself when shovelling snow – it could cause health problems

Driving in snow

It is crucial to prepare yourself and your car before embarking on a journey in the snow, and to avoid unnecessary journeys.

  • Before you set off, plan your journey carefully and keep up to date with the weather.
  • Allow for more time than you normally would to clear car windows, mirrors, lights and the top of your roof of snow before setting off - driving with snow on your car could be illegal.
  • De-ice your windscreen inside and out.
  • A lock de-icer is useful to clear the lock. If your lock does freeze, warm the key in hot water, or even your palm, and try again.
  • Check wipers are working effectively and tyres inflated to the correct pressure. 'Poor tyres will not grip when driving on snow and ice,' says the RAC. 'If you live in an area where snow is common it might be worth changing to winter tyres with deeper tread.'
  • Check your screenwash will protect down to at least -35.
  • Take with you a charged mobile phone and the phone number of your breakdown service

Read our guide to driving in snow

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The opinions expressed are those of the author and are not held by Saga unless specifically stated.

The material is for general information only and does not constitute investment, tax, legal, medical or other form of advice. You should not rely on this information to make (or refrain from making) any decisions. Always obtain independent, professional advice for your own particular situation.