Chicagoland is known for its bracing winters, full of freezing temperatures and plenty of snow. Whether you live for the winter months or you’d rather hit fast-forward to spring and summer, it’s important to be ready for what an Illinois winter can throw your way.
Are you ready for the coldest months of the year?
What do you need to know to make the most of winter in Chicagoland? Who better to get advice from than the company that has been facing the best and worst of lake effect weather patterns since 1855?
As you look ahead to the winter, here are seven tips, tricks, and tactics to keep in mind, courtesy of the local experts at Baird & Warner:
1.) Get Your Winter Shopping Done
Before the winter chill settles in and the mounds of snow start to pile up, come up with a shopping list of all the things you might need during the cold season. Take stock of what you have, and be sure to replenish any essentials that can help you and yours make it through the coldest and wettest months of the year. Ideas might include:
- Non-perishable food
- New winter gear — such as boots, coats, gloves, hats, etc.
- Snowblowers, shovels, and scrapers
- Deicer — such as road salt, kitty litter, etc.
- First aid kit supplies
- Flashlights and candles
- Any major home renovations that need to be completed before the winter weather — such as installing a smart thermostat, replacing your furnace, repairing your deck or patio, etc.
2.) Winterize Your Home
You may be ready for everything that winter has to offer — but is your home? There are lots of steps you can take to get your home ready for the coldest time of the year, some big, some small. Here is a basic checklist to get you started:
- Insulate your windows, to make sure that cold air doesn’t seep in
- Locate and seal “cracks” in your home — these are the gaps where gusts of cold wind might sneak indoors
- Winterize your hot water heater and pipes — including shutting off the water supply to your outdoor faucets and hose bibs
- Clean and cover your gutters before the first snowfall of the season
- Seal up cracks in masonry — such as cracks in your sidewalk, patio, foundation, etc.
- Have your chimney serviced — because who doesn’t want to be able to have a crackling fire, whenever possible?
- Prep your garden and trees, by making sure that tree branches are trimmed back, patio furniture is covered and brought inside, etc.
- Think about what you can do to make things cozy — from changing up your interior design to match the season, to adding warming touches such as blankets and candles around your living space
3.) Set a Heating Plan
Have you thought about the best way to keep your home warm during the winter? As the frigid temperatures roll in, it’s important to consider your plan for staying warm. Think of ways to maximize your safety and comfort, without ratcheting up your utility bills. A few things to keep in mind:
- Set a consistent schedule for your thermostat — program your home’s temperature to be warmer in the evenings, for example, and cooler when everyone is away at work or school
- Have your HVAC systems inspected and serviced before the winter months to avoid any surprises
- Invest in space heaters, candles, etc. to add strategically around your home — just be sure to be safe!
4.) Get Your Vehicle Ready
Are you ready to be on the move in the middle of winter? If you have a vehicle, it’s important to take steps to make sure that it can perform in wintry conditions. In other cases, a great way to get ready for winter may be to look into public transit options near you. Here in Chicagoland, buses, trains, and other transit services often stay open, even when the weather makes driving or biking difficult.
If you do drive, here are a few things you might want to address before the worst of the winter weather:
- Swap out regular tires for snow tires, which provide extra traction
- Check your car’s battery
- Make sure your windshield wipers are fully functional, and your vehicle has enough wiper fluid for those salty roads
- Check the level of coolant
- De-ice locks and doors
- Keep a first aid kit in car stocked with winter essentials — flashlight, blanket, ice scraper, bandages, handwarmers, etc.
5.) Embrace Technology
There are many websites and apps that can help you truly make the most of a Chicagoland winter. Here are a few ideas worth looking into:
- AccuWeather app, or similar weather apps
- TransitStop, Moovit, or other CTA-focused public transit apps
- Food delivery apps, such as Grubhub, Postmates, Seamless, etc.
- Ridesharing apps, such as Lyft and Uber
- ClearStreets, a Chicago plow tracker
- Video streaming apps, such as YouTube, Netflix, or Hulu
6.) Find the Fun
The weather outside may be frightful, but in Chicagoland, there’s always something just around the corner sure to be delightful! What do you do to ensure you’re making the most of the wintertime in Chicagoland? Need some inspiration? Here are a few ideas to get you started:
- See a live play or comedy show at one of Chicagoland’s many theaters
- Go sledding, skiing, or hiking
- Check out one of the indoor and outdoor events in the region — the Lincoln Park and Brookfield Zoos host plenty of winter celebrations, for example
- Go ice-skating at one of the many spots around the region
- Visit one of the many legendary museums or galleries around Chicagoland
- Take in a movie at your local theater
- Plan a trip to a warm weather locale
7.) Don’t Forget Your Health
It’s easy to overlook the importance of staying healthy during the winter months. Your health is important — and winter presents all sorts of unique challenges. Here are a few ideas to take care of yourself, whatever the weather:
- Protect your skin — bundle up when you go outside, and moisturize your skin if the chill takes a toll
- Watch what you eat — stock up on hearty, nutrient-dense foods, to keep you going even when the weather gets you down
- Watch your vitamin D levels — get out in the sun as much as you can, and consider fortifying your diet with foods rich in vitamin D, like fish, dairy products, orange juice, or eggs
- Find time to exercise — be it indoors or outdoors, at home or at a gym. The cold weather doesn’t have to mean slowing down!
Want even more advice on how best to make it through a Chicagoland winter? Cooped up indoors and thinking of finally starting your home search? Whatever you’re looking for, one of Baird & Warner’s hyperlocal neighborhood experts can help you find navigate the market with confidence and peace of mind.