u'Photo Illustration by Erik Simkins/The AS Review'

u'Photo Illustration by Erik Simkins/The AS Review'

By Allison Milton/The AS Review

Snow.

For some, this word might bring up happy memories of making snowpeople and snow angels or having innocent snowball fights. But for others, like me, the thought of snow can incite anger and sometimes fear. It’s the fear of being stranded because your 2001 Ford Taurus can’t make it up a slight incline without sliding backwards on ice, the fear of slipping and falling on your backside because your $80 boots don’t have enough traction to keep you upright on the slippery ground and the fear of feeling freezing cold all the time.  So, if you’re anything like me, dreading the first snowfall of the winter, you need to be prepared, for your health, your house and your happiness.

Staying warm is important when the temperature drops. Whether you choose to bundle up in your newly purchased down jacket or the ridiculous Snuggie your grandparents sent you for your birthday, keeping warm is key to staying upbeat in the winter.

As you try to keep your body warm, it is essential that your house or apartment remains warm as well when you leave Bellingham for break.

Last year, I went home for winter break only to return after the holidays to a flooded home in Bellingham. My roommates and I did not follow some of the steps every home renter needs to take before they go home for winter break to ensure that the inside temperature of their house or apartment does not drop too low, causing the water pipes to freeze and burst.

Nathaniel McCall, customer service representative at Cascade Natural Gas, warned students to not let the inside temperature of their house drop below 50 degrees. Before students leave for winter break, they should set their central heating system to 50 or 55 degrees, McCall said.

“This would ensure that in case of a cold snap in Bellingham, the temperature of the house never drops to freezing,” he said.

The next step in preparing your home for the winter chill is to make sure all cabinets that hide pipes, like the ones under your sinks in the kitchen and bathroom, remain open in order to ensure that they do not get too cold.

As some of you might recall, last year’s holiday season of cheer was interrupted by a windstorm, snowstorm and multiple power outages across the Pacific Northwest. My parents’ house on Camano Island was without power for more than 24 hours and we were not prepared. The flashlights were dead, the blankets were packed away and the fridge was stocked with perishable food.

Unfortunately, unless you have close ties with Mother Nature, there is little you can do to prevent power outages, but there are things you can do to prevent damage to yourself and your home should one occur. Preparation is key.

According to the Seattle City Light Web site, homeowners and renters need to prepare a kit to have handy in case of an outage. This kit should include: a working flashlight, glow-in-the-dark stick lights, a wind-up clock, a portable radio, a manual can opener and a mylar blanket. The site also urges homeowners not to use candles as a source of light and heat in the a power outage.

Make sure to stay warm this winter season and prepare now for inclement weather, because it’s better to be safe than sorry.