Better safe than sorry

By Todd DeFeo

It's that time of year again.

With temperatures heading towards the freezing mark, it's time to take some preventative measures both with vehicles and at home.

"The most important thing is to make sure your coolant is full and make sure you have no leaking coolant passages or hoses," said Jerry Daniels, service manager for One Stop Car Care Center in McDonough.

Also, fluids' pH levels should be measured, tire pressure should be checked and scheduled maintenance performed, Daniels said. And on cold mornings, it's best to let a car's engine warm up before driving.

"Don't just jump in, crank it up and take off," Daniels warns. "Engines are designed to run at warmer temperatures."

On the home front, increasing gas prices could mean higher heating costs.

To avoid "sticker shock," the Alliance to Save Energy says it is important to act now and improve home energy-efficiency. An energy-efficient home, the Alliance to Save Energy contends, protects the environment by not wasting resources.

Making sure there is appropriate insulation for a particular climate can reduce heating costs up to 30 percent. Checking homes for air leaks and sealing any that are found with weather stripping or caulk can reduce heating costs by 20 percent. Programmable thermostats that lower temperatures during the day is another method of reducing heating costs, according to the Alliance to Save Energy.

Freezing pipes are another possible concern for homeowners. Up to 250,000 people nationwide have at least one room in their house ruined each winter because of freezing pipes, according to State Farm Fire and Casualty Company.

Checking pipes to ensure they have adequate insulation, disconnecting outside garden hoses, wrapping exposed pipes with insulating sleeves and sealing foundation cracks are a few ways to avoid frozen pipes, according to State Farm.

And when a freeze is predicted, as was the case Monday morning with temperatures in Metro Atlanta reaching the low to mid-30s, opening cabinet doors to allow heat to reach pipes under sinks and running a trickle of water at "vulnerable" faucets can also help avoid the frozen pipes.