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Saving and preparing for winter emergencies

Date posted:  11/17/16 08:00:00 AM Keep your family safe this winter by preparing for winter.

Blizzards, extreme cold and harsh conditions can lead to substantial and expensive issues. Saving money for winter emergencies and preparing now can help keep your finances protected during the coldest months of the year.

From broken heaters to broken cars, preparing for these winter emergencies can help you enjoy the season without stressing about finances.

Invest in a tune up
Before temperatures dip too low, take your vehicle to a trusted mechanic for a general check-up. A full maintenance evaluation of your car can troubleshoot for potential issues you might face later in the season, and better ensure your vehicle is prepared for the change in the weather.

It may also be worthwhile to invest in updating specific items now, like tires and brakes, because temperature changes can impact your car's performance and pose a safety concern.

Keep an emergency road kit in your car
Winter conditions can lead to dangerous situations if you and your family are on the road. In some instances, you may find yourself unable to continue driving. Packing an emergency road kit can help keep you and your passengers safe during emergency situations.

Purchase several warm blankets, clothes, extra gloves and hats, jumper cables and road flares. You may also want to invest in a first aid kit and food items that won't go bad quickly, like trail mix or granola bars.

If you find yourself stranded on the road during the winter, you will likely be tempted to keep the car running with the furnace on, but resist this temptation. Only turn on the vehicle every hour or so to conserve fuel. If you are in this situation, check your exhaust to ensure it is not blocked by snow or ice.

Prepare for power outages
Your car isn't the only asset you'll want to prepare for potential winter emergencies. If the power goes out at home, you and your family could face a dangerous situation. Staying warm will be your first priority, so invest in a camp stove or alternative source of heat to stay warm during the power outage, noted Money Crashers.

Like an emergency road kit, you will also want to keep supplies on hand in your home for you and your family's safety. Keep candles, matches, hand warmers, flashlights and a first aid kit in your home in case a winter storm makes it dangerous to leave your house. Keep your emergency kit in a location you can easily access.

Save for emergency purchases
Winter weather won't always cause an immediate threat to your safety. In some instances your appliances may stop working and break down. If your water heater or furnace breaks during the chilly season, you want to ensure you have built up adequate funds to replace these essential appliances as soon as possible.

Consider having your furnace and water heater tuned early in the season and ask how much it would cost to replace your hardware. Also request an estimate for installation fees. This can give you a concrete amount to work toward. Typically a water heater or furnace will cost around $1,000 each, but the price will vary by region.

If you own an older appliance, consider replacing it before temperatures drop too greatly. Vintage furnaces may wind up costing more money throughout the season anyway as they tend to be less efficient and require more maintenance than modern appliances.

Be prepared for winter temperatures by planning ahead and saving enough money to keep you and your family warm and safe all season long.