MOORHEAD — Goooooooood day to you all! It is I, Moorhead resident (kind of — I still have to switch my driver's license over) Emma Vatnsdal with the latest installment of my favorite part of the week: Friday 5.

Winter is coming. It's an inevitable fact in our northern location on the map. However, I'm sure many of you, like me, thought we'd have just a bit more time before Mother Nature turns in for another chilly nap.

Unfortunately, Mama Earth is tired. She's sick of our you-know-what for the year and she's hittin' the hay. That means we only have a tiny bit more time to prepare for the long winter ahead.

But it's never a bad thing to be too prepared! That's why this week I am going to give you five things to remember when preparing your home for winter. And yes, I am doing this column just as much for me as I am for you. First winter as a #NewHomeowner. Holla.

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(NOTE: The "Community Culture Team" (yes, that's what we are technically called... If anyone has any better team name please send it to evatnsdal@forumcomm.com, we dislike Community Culture. We are cooler than that, we need something snappier.) has some fairly early deadlines for each work we do. For example, the article you are currently reading, that you look forward to every single week, has to be sent to our dear editor, Ryan, by no later than the end of the day Wednesday. This means that, while I am talking about weather, I really have no idea what will be happening by the time this article goes to print. It could snow, it could not. Either way, this ditty will be relevant at some point, so you'll just have to deal with it.)

Meece-proofing

Mice are gross. You don't want them in your house this winter. Seal up those cracks, boys and girls! David Cappaert / Michigan State University / Special to The Forum
Mice are gross. You don't want them in your house this winter. Seal up those cracks, boys and girls! David Cappaert / Michigan State University / Special to The Forum

I hate mice. They are to me what spiders are to my wonderful boyfriend, John: TERRIFYING. Just thinking about their scratchy little feet and their beady little eyes is enough to make me squirm.

I sleep in the basement of my new house. You know where mice like to sneak in? THE BASEMENT. No way am I going to take this tip lightly.

Seal off any possible points of entry. I am telling you, those buggers are SNEAKY. They can squeeze into the tiniest of holes. Think that hole near the door is too small? Think. Again. Check window screens for any tears and repair them, seal any cracks in walls or the foundation with wire mesh, examine spots where pipes meet the wall. If there are any gaps, fill those bad boys up.

Mice are gross. They pee everywhere and they carry diseases. Do we really need another bubonic plague? Maybe. But not this winter.

Windows

Ahhh, the windows. Those pesky little portals to the cold, cold outside world. The first line of defense between you and the howling wind and blowing white stuff that will soon be bombarding our area. Just a few simple checks and (possible) fixes can ensure you stay toasty warm.

The windows of my cute little NoMo home are just on the verge of needing to be replaced. They're not completely gone, but they're getting pretty close. Chipped paint and sticky locks are my first indicator, but the chunks of weatherstripping that I recently vacuumed up really, hehe, sealed the deal. (Buh bum, tssss.)

Checking to see if the gaps and spaces around windows are sealed by weatherstripping can prevent heat loss. Similarly, replacing broken weatherstripping can help stop potential drafts. Replace any damaged or rotting window frames to prevent cracking, and caulk all necessary areas around the window to stop heat loss.

You can also add insulation to your windows with window wrap kits from local hardware stores.

Dust off the blowers

Make sure your snowblower is ready to rumble before a blizzard hits! Forum file photo
Make sure your snowblower is ready to rumble before a blizzard hits! Forum file photo

And bust out the shovels. Take time to bring out all your winter-fighting accessories from storage. Perform any tuneups, fill the gas tank on your snowblower and do some stretching because shoveling snow is hard work!! You definitely don't want to be caught without a shovel when that first blizzard of the year hits.

It's gettin' hot in here

Quite possibly the most important thing you can do to prepare for the freezing months ahead is to ensure your furnace is working properly.

Change filters regularly (or at least look at the filter to see if it needs to be changed) and remove any items stored near the furnace. Be sure to fill the fuel tank if that's how your gas furnace runs, too. You wouldn't want to run out of fuel when the temperature hits minus 50!

Make a survival kit

Ensure all your ducks are in a row to avoid major headaches down the road. Forum file photo
Ensure all your ducks are in a row to avoid major headaches down the road. Forum file photo

If there's one nightmare that plagues every Upper Midwesterner in the winter (or maybe it's just my biggest fear), it's this: skidding into the ditch in a blizzard.

However, taking the time now to pack a survival kit can alleviate a bit of fear when roads get slippery. Things like a flashlight with extra batteries, blankets, scarves, mittens, boots and a first-aid kit can help keep you warm and calm if you happen to be stuck at night. Also be sure to test your jumper cables and that you know how to use them. Snacks and fresh water should also be included, because who doesn't like snacks?

I hope you all have a wonderful, warm and SAFE start to the most wonderfully long time of the year!

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Friday 5 is a weekly column featuring quick tips, tricks, ideas and more — all in bunches of five. Readers can reach reporter Emma Vatnsdal at 701-241-5517.