Winter is on the way. Now is the time to prepare for the cold. Maybe you stock up on wood to burn, bring out the winter bedding, freeze or can food, or put plastic on your windows. But there are additional ways to get ready for winter. How do you prepare?

Here are a few things to have on your list.

CHECK FURNACE: Have a professional inspect your furnace. They’ll check pressure, blower, motors, leaks, etc., and give you a diagnostic report. Ducts should be cleaned, and you can clean or change the filter.

CLEAN GUTTERS: Take the time to clean your gutters so they’re free from leaves and debris. Clogged gutters can cause a lot of damage to your roof and exterior of your home when snow and ice thaws. While you’re up on the roof, check to see if any trees need trimming so during a storm they don’t fall on your electrical lines or damage your roof or windows. If you live in a heavy snow area, consider investing in a snow rake for your roof.

OUTDOOR GARDEN: Disconnect garden hoses, bring in any houseplants, clean and store garden tools, weed, amend soil and use autumn leaves as mulch, and add any excess to your compost. Clean and store patio furniture and grill. Drain gas and oil from garden machinery, and make sure your snow blower or snow shovels are ready to use.

WINTER GEAR: Have everyone try on their winter gear so you can fix anything that needs mending or replace only what you need. Bring out hats, gloves, scarves, etc., and organize them in a central location so it’s all easily accessible. Donate any clothing that has been outgrown or you no longer want. Heated mattress pads, flannel sheets, thermal underwear, hot water bottles and wool socks/slippers can keep your body warmer and are less expensive than turning up the heat.

EMERGENCY SUPPLIES: Assemble kits for your home and vehicles. For your car, include item such as extra blankets or clothing, a first-aid kit, basic tools, flashlight, flares, jumper cables, nonperishable food such as energy bars, water, ice scrapers, shovels and kitty litter. For home, check smoke and carbon monoxide detectors, have spare batteries, candles, flashlights, food and water, crank radio, first-aid kit, and basic tools.

ENERGY AUDIT: Schedule an energy audit though your utility company. They’ll give you tips such as insulating your water heater, attic, pipes and switch plates and installing a programmable thermostat or switching to lower watt bulbs. Or do an assessment yourself. Visit for a checklist. Locate air leaks. Remove summer screens. There’s nonpermanent caulk that’s available to seal around your windows. Check weatherstripping or use a draft stopper. Inspect your chimney and have it cleaned if needed.

COLD SUPPLIES: Stock your medicine cabinet with cold and flu supplies, such a cough drops, cold and cough medicine and vitamin C, so you don’t have to run to the pharmacy if you get sick.

Buy a vaporizer if you don’t have one. They work well for when you’re sick and add moisture to the dry air in your house during the winter.

To send comments or questions, write to Sara Noel, c/o United Media, 200 Madison Ave., fourth floor, New York, NY 10016, or e-mail