Winterize Your Home and Car

Provided by Prince William Fire & Rescue

The official start of winter is next week. A wetter winter than usual is predicted for the mid-Atlantic area. Make sure you’re prepared at home and on the road by taking the necessary precautions to stay safe and warm during the winter season.

Winterize Your Home

  • Furnace and Heating Ducts:  Call an HVAC professional to inspect your furnace and clean and inspect the heating ducts. Replace the furnace filter throughout the winter.
  • Ceiling Fans:  Reverse ceiling fans to rotate clockwise allowing the fan to push warm air down and
    recirculate throughout the room.
  • Drafts/Air Leaks: Drafts can waste up to 30% of your energy use. Place draft guards or rolled up towels across the bottom of doors, Add weather-resistant caulk or weather-stripping tape
    around windows where there are holes, cracks and open seams.
  • Window Insulation: Place window insulation film on your windows to increase your home’s energy
    efficiency by 70%.
  • Air Conditioning Unit:  Drain any pipes and hoses coming from your air conditioner and cover the unit.
  • Fiberglass Insulation: Add fiberglass insulation in your attic, around basement doors, windows in unused rooms and window AC units.
  • Wrap your Pipes:  Insulating pipes reduces heat loss, raises hot water temperatures and prevents pipes from freezing.
  • Check Smoke and Carbon Monoxide Detectors: Perform monthly checks on your smoke and carbon monoxide detectors and change the batteries when needed.
  • Lower the Thermostat: Lower your energy bill by setting your thermostat to 68 degrees and dress in layers of warm clothing.
  • Add a Chimney Balloon: A chimney balloon can save you up to 30% on utility bills. The balloon reduces the downdraft and keeps rodents and insects out.
  • Trim Trees: Trim any nearby trees to prevent ice and snow build-up that could damage property.
  • Clean your Gutters: Clogged gutters can lead to the formation of water and ice that can seep into your house. Clean out gutters so water can drain freely.
  • Prepare an Emergency Kit: Build your emergency kit that will sustain you and your family for at least three days/72 hours. Build a Kit [1]

Winterize Your Car

  • Battery and Charging System, Cables, Terminals, Drive Belts and Engine Hoses:  Have a certified technician check these items to prevent the risk of breaking down.
  • Tire Type and Tread:  All-season tires work best in light to moderate snow conditions. Snow tires on all four wheels are the best for winter traction. Tires should have 3/32 inches of tread; anything less should be replaced.
  • Tire Pressure: Check tire pressure frequently during winter months. As the temperature drops, so will the pressures in the tires, so refill as needed.
  • Air Filter: Check the engine’s air filter. If you can see through much of the filter, it’s still clean. If not,
    it’s blocked, and needs replaced.
  • Coolant levels: Ask your technician what antifreeze should be used for your vehicle and the appropriate coolant to water ratio to prevent against corrosion and potential freezing.
  • Lights: Check the operation of all headlights, taillights, emergency flashers, turn signals, brake
    lights and backup lights. Replace any burnt out bulbs.
  • Wiper Blades: Replace blades that leave streaks or miss spots. Consider installing winter wipers to
    prevent ice and snow buildup on the windshield.
  • Washer Fluid: Fill the windshield washer reservoir with a cleaning solution that has antifreeze
    components for cold weather use.
  • Brakes:  Have your brakes inspected by a certified technician to ensure all components are in good
    working order.
  • Transmission, Brake and Power Steering Fluids:  Check all fluids to ensure they are at or above the minimum safe levels.

Winter Driving Survival Kit

  • Flashlight with fresh batteries
  • Blankets
  • Booster Cables
  • Ice scraper
  • Small bag of abrasive material, such as sand or cat litter
  • Cloth or a roll of paper towels
  • Small shovel
  • Cell phone
  • Can of de-icer
  • Warning device, such as flares or reflective triangle
  • Basic Emergency Kit Supplies[2]

Winter Driving Safety Tips

  • Leave earlier for your destination.
  • Use main roads or arteries whenever possible.
  • Use your knowledge of the area to your advantage.
  • Expect traffic to travel at a slower pace.

Stay informed about emergency alerts and important information by signing up for PWC Alerts[3], and
keeping a NOAA weather radio handy for updates. For information about Prince William County
government, go to the emergency information portal[4].


  1. ^ Build a Kit (
  2. ^ Basic Emergency Kit Supplies (
  3. ^ PWC Alerts (
  4. ^ portal (

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