NEW JERSEY – In spite of recent groundhog-inspired predictions of spring, there remains a real chance we may face another plan-altering, snow-filled weather event this year.

According to Kevin Perri, president of Tinton Falls-based A.J. Perri Plumbing Heating and Cooling, LLC, homeowners who take proactive measures ahead of bad weather have the tools and confidence that their home and family will remain comfortable and safe for the duration of the season.

For example, since superstorm Sandy knocked out electrical power to areas throughout the state for days or even weeks, standby home power generators have gained wide popularity.  

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“If you live in an area where electricity is periodically unavailable during storms, a standby generator is a great investment,” said Perri. “Besides providing light and maintaining power to your refrigerator, a generator can provide alternate power to your heating system—a big plus considering that prolonged storm-related outages can result in spoiled food, frozen or burst water pipes and a house so cold it is unlivable.”

Keeping up to date on preventive maintenance for your home heating and cooling system is another critical hedge against the cold.

“Having a professional inspect and tune-up your heating and cooling system will help reduce your energy costs and the chance of component failure during winter season,” said Perry, who also reminds homeowners to change air filters on schedule, clear vents that have been hidden by furniture or covered in dust and have the chimney inspected and cleaned to make sure it’s clear for use.

“Visually inspect your roof seasonally to confirm it is in good condition," he said. "Missing shingles, misaligned or missing gutters as well as cracked joint seals should be attended to promptly to avoid potentially costly damage to your home during an extreme weather event where high winds and heavy rain, snow and ice place the structure under duress.”

Generating heat is important; keeping heat in the home is just as important. Windows and doors represent major heat loss areas in a home. Inspecting these openings seasonally ensures seals are not worn or damaged. Additional weather seals or guards may be required to plug leaks. Luckily, caulking and weather seals are inexpensive hardware store fixes.

Small items are important for storm preparedness as well. The American Red Cross, for example, has helpful instructions on how to create an emergency kit.

A back-up external USB electronics battery is also important, as is a supply of sand, ice melt, or kitty litter for use on icy surfaces.  If you own pets, look for pet-friendly products as alternative to harsher chemicals.  

Before rushing out to the store for extra milk and bread, check that you have ample fuel for your snow blower, generator and home heating oil too.

Finally, In the event of a storm with severe cold temperatures, Perri recommends keeping thermostats higher than typical winter settings and opening faucets to drip slightly to prevent pipes from freezing.

“A safe home is only useful if family members remain safe as well,” said Perri. “So please dress warmly in layers and cover extremities to avoid hypothermia while outdoors. Remember to drink plenty of fluids and to remove wet clothing when returning indoors.”