Each winter we must battle Old Man winter to protect ourselves, our property and the environment! Cold temperatures bring the possibility of frozen water pipes, slippery sidewalks and lots of hazardous. This handy winter storm checklist will help you prepare for winter while being easy on the environment.
Prevent your pipes from freezing and causing costly damage to your home by:
Keeping doors and windows near your water pipes closed during cold weather.
Sealing air leaks and cracks in the crawl space or basement.
Closing crawl space air vents or covering them from the inside.
Checking to ensure pipes are insulated in unheated parts of the house. Wet insulation is worse than no insulation, so be sure to replace any you find.
Disconnecting garden hoses and storing them in a garage or shed.
When temps drop to the teens or lower, you may choose to drip your faucets to prevent pipes from freezing. Pick a single faucet at the highest level in your house and make sure droplets are about the size of the lead in a pencil. You’ll only waste money (and water) if you leave the faucet wide open.
Apply deicer before snow falls to prevent ice from forming on sidewalks, driveways and walkways. Look for deicers with magnesium chloride or calcium magnesium acetate because they are less likely to harm your pets, sidewalks, grass and plants. Never use lawn fertilizers as a substitute for deicers.
Stay off roads during winter storms. Most traffic crashes happen within the first two hours after a storm starts. Get road conditions by calling 511 or visiting www.511Virginia.org.
Get supplies before the storm. Have enough non-perishable foods, water, and batteries on hand for at least three days in case you become snowed in. Don’t forget other necessities as well – like baby supplies, medications, pet food, and toilet paper!
Never plug space heaters into extension cords. Always plug them directly into a wall outlet. Keep space heaters at least three feet from other objects, and turn off before going to bed.
Stay informed during power outages with a battery-powered and/or hand-crank radio. Get one with the NOAA Weather Radio band so you can hear winter weather reports directly from the National Weather Service as well as news reports from local radio stations.
Don’t use candles during power outages. Many home fires in winter are caused by candles. Flashlights are much safer.
Have a family emergency plan. If your family cannot return home because of severe weather or closed roads, you need to decide now on alternate locations for riding out the storm.
For more winter preparedness tips before, during, and after extreme cold, check out ReadyHamptonRoads.org.
Don’t let your neighborhood go to the dogs! askHRgreen.org offers free pet waste stations through a regional grant program. If your Hampton Roads neighborhood/HOA/community association is ready to make scooping the poop a priority, then you’re invited to apply. Pet waste stations encourage residents to pick up after their pets by making it easy and convenient to do so. They are also one small thing a community can do to help keep our local waterways clean.
Scooping the poop is not only important for a clean neighborhood, it’s important for our local waterways. When pet waste is not picked up, it becomes a major source of pollution in our water. Rainwater carries nitrogen and bacteria from pet waste into our storm drains and directly into our rivers, lakes, and streams. This excess nitrogen and bacteria transform the water into a cloudy, green, foul-smelling mess that lacks oxygen and becomes an aquatic dead zone. The same pollution is responsible for beach closures, fishing restrictions and warnings on eating local seafood. Installing a pet waste station is one easy way to combat water pollution in your community.
The grant program is open to any neighborhood, community group, or property management company with the ability to install and maintain the pet waste station. To apply online for a free pet waste station, click here. Supplies are limited, so apply today!
Well, it’s looking like we might not miss out on the 2016 Hurricane season. Hurricane Matthew has ripped through Haiti and now has its sights set on the eastern coast of the U.S. Add to that the fact that we’ve already experienced huge amounts of rainfall recently and it could shape up to be a rough weekend. If Hurricane Matthew decides to make landfall in eastern North Carolina, Hampton Roads is likely to experience strong winds, high storm surges and huge rainfall totals in a short window of time.
Your city or county Public Works Department has already started working to clear ditches and clean storm drains so that rain won’t back up into streets and cause flooding. But for those in low-lying tidal areas or in the event of flash floods, no amount of storm prep will stop the water from rising. It’s still important to take the proper steps to secure your possessions so they don’t become litter and storm debris further clogging our already overburdened storm drain systems.
Please do your part and take action now to secure your home and help prevent street flooding in your neighborhood. Flood waters and storm damage know no property lines – help your neighbors prepare as well.
Check Your Emergency Supplies – Make sure you have the following items on hand in the event of prolonged outages of utility services: batteries, bottled water, flashlights/lanterns, easy to prepare meals, ice, activities for the kids, food for the “furry” kids and any medical care items you or your family may require. A battery operated radio is also essential for latest emergency information and updates during the storm. And gas for your generator if you happen to be so lucky!
Clear Gutters and Ditches – Clear away vegetation, litter, tree branches and yard debris from any ditch, channel, storm drain, etc. on your property. This will help the flood waters flow freely into the stormwater system.
Secure Loose Items – Look around your yard for any item that may fly or float away and move it to a secure location. Loose items that float off into flood waters will worsen flooding by clogging drainage systems and flooding your street or yard. In the event that we receive high winds from Hurricane Matthew, loose items may also be dangerous projectiles that can endanger people and property.
Trim Your Trees – Cut back trees and remove any weak or dead branches that could pose a threat to your (or your neighbor’s) home.
Shelter Your Waste/Recycling Containers – Secure your trash/recycling containers indoors (i.e. garage, shed, etc.) to prevent trash from entering the stormwater system. If you are unable to secure the containers inside, attempt to weight the bottom of the receptacle and secure the top with a bungee or duct tape.
Prepare for Rising Flood Waters – If you live in a low-lying area, it’s not too early to think about moving important belongings off the ground in flood-prone areas of your home or garage. In addition to your personal belongs, move hazardous household chemicals off the ground to prevent them from spilling into flood waters. Examples include motor oil, gasoline and lawn chemicals typically stored in your garage or shed.
Tune Into Local Emergency Communications – Your city or county will be providing a lot of information regarding city services during the storm. For important updates and news regarding closures, suspension of municipal services, shelter locations or evacuation requirements, please check in with your locality often. To find emergency information where you live, visit Ready Hampton Roads.
You may also consider mentioning these tasks to your neighbors or better yet, pitch in and help them prepare their homes and yards. Debris knows no property lines. Stay safe Hampton Roads!
My 5-year-old LOVES worms. She is scared to death of most creepy crawly things, spiders in particular, but she practically turns the worms in our yard into pets. They come second only to roly polys. I get it. There is just something about digging around in the dirt and discovering little critters that is so enjoyable and satisfying. Turns out this love of worms also runs on my husband’s side of the family, because I recently discovered his grandmother has her own “pet worms”, or worm farm as she more aptly describes.
Marj and her worms.
Marj’s worm farm is all the way in Australia, but we visited my in-laws earlier this year so we had a chance to check out her worms for ourselves. Over the years Marj has turned most of her yard into an organic garden full of gorgeous flowers and tasty fruits and veggies. It puts my backyard to shame. Really it would put anyone’s yard to shame, so I should have known right away that she was onto something when she started talking about worms. Unlike my 5-year-old who simply enjoys collecting and talking to worms, Marj puts them to work.
Worms are great decomposers, and what needs decomposers? OK that’s a trick question, technically worms are detrivores and EVERYTHING needs decomposers and detrivores. They do super important work – remember the food web you learned in grade school – Producers, Consumers, and Decomposers? Producers are plants that make food with the energy from the sun and are eaten by the Consumers (herbivores, carnivores, and omnivores). Whenever anything dies or is pooped out, the decomposers break down the nutrients and return it to the soil to be used by more Producers. Does anyone else hear the “Circle of Life” from The Lion King in your head right now?
Worms at work in Hampton Roads.
OK that is grossly simplified but back to my original question…COMPOST needs decomposers! Decomposers break down organic materials (like kitchen scraps) into more stable and non-smelly compost that is full of nutrients and can be used as a fertilizer and soil amendment. Microorganisms are also decomposers, but worm composting, or vermicomposting, can get it done faster than microorganisms alone. Instead of throwing your organic material into a compost pile or bin, you feed them to your pet worms and after happily feasting on your leftovers and lawn trimmings, they do what we all do. They poop. But this isn’t just any poop. The material that passes through the gut of a worm is called a worm casting, and according to Moose Hill Worm Farm, worm castings are made up of bacteria, enzymes, remnants of plant matter, and animal manure that create water-soluble plant nutrients that contain more than 50% more humus than what is normally found in topsoil. And get this – worms can process their body weight in food each day, so a pound of worms can process a pound of kitchen scraps EACH DAY. Not only are you keeping kitchen and yard waste out of landfills, you are performing the ULTIMATE type of recycling: turning waste into a resource!
Here are a few resources and tips to get you started:
By now you’ve probably heard all about the Zika virus. Zika was first launched into the headlines when it was linked with birth defects in newborns. There has been additional scrutiny on the mosquito-borne virus because of the Olympic games in Rio. With athletes and spectators from around the world travelling to Rio, there is real uncertainty surrounding how widely the virus could spread. Recently, Florida reported its first cases of mosquito-borne Zika so now is the time for us all to take action to limit the spread of this nasty virus in our communities.
What can you do? Worldwide health crises don’t usually seem like the kind of thing an average Joe can solve but in this case, we all have the power to stop the spread of Zika by taking action to prevent the breeding of mosquitoes. The number one way we can do this is by preventing water from standing in or around our properties. Pools of water in containers around your yard, whether big or small, will provide the habitat needed by mosquitoes to breed. Look around your yard, identify these breeding grounds and correct the issue through tip, toss and cover. Watch this short video below to learn more.
Do you have old tires laying around? That’s a big no-no. Tires catch lots of water and turn into five-star resorts for mosquito breeding. Responsibly dispose of tires by checking our handy tire disposal guide listed by city/county below. Together as a community we can prevent the spread of Zika virus.
Chesapeake Residents may schedule bulk pickup online or by calling 382-2489. Up to two tires (without rims) will be accepted per bulk pickup. Residents may schedule 12 bulk pickups per year.
Gloucester Residents may drop off four tires (off the rim) at any Gloucester County convenience center. For more information, call (804) 693-5370
Hampton Residents may place up to five tires, including rims, at the curb on their regularly scheduled trash collection day. There is a max of 10 tires per household per year. For more information, call (757) 727-8311
Isle of Wight Residents may drop off up to four tires per day at any Isle of Wight County convenience center. For more information, call (757) 365-1658.
James City Residents may use the Jolly Pond and Toano Convenience Centers for disposing of tires. Coupons required. Call 565-0971 for more information.
Newport News Residents who pay the Solid Waste User Fee may drop off four off-rim tires per week to the Recovery Operation Center. Maximum of 12 tires per year. Passenger car and small truck tires only. For more information call 886-7947.
Norfolk Residents may dispose of up to four tires per household per month at no charge. Bulk pickup requests must be placed by 3 p.m. the day before collection. To schedule a bulk pick, please call 664-6510.
Poquoson Tires may be brought to the City’s old Recycling Center which is located behind the Municipal Building next to the pool parking lot. To cover the cost of the disposal of tires there is a $1 per tire fee. Purchase City decals in the Treasurer’s office and affix the decal to each tire prior to disposal.
Portsmouth Residents may place up to 8 tires (without rim) each year at curbside for pickup on scheduled trash pickup days. There are also three Portsmouth Recycles Day events each year where tires are accepted without counting towards the annual maximum. For more information, call 393-8663.
Smithfield Residents may drop off up to four tires per day at any Isle of Wight County convenience center. For more information, call (757) 365-1658.
Southampton Check back soon!
Suffolk Residents may use SPSA or special recycling events for disposing of tires. For pricing on year-round disposal, call SPSA at 961-3668 or find the next free recycling event here.
Virginia Beach Virginia Beach residents can recycle tires via the City Landfill & Resource Recovery Center. Up to four automobile or light truck tires with or without rims can be disposed of free of charge with proof of residency. Only waste generated at the primary residence of City of Virginia Beach citizens will be accepted. Waste must be delivered in a privately owned, non-commercial, vehicle that is no larger than a pickup truck bed. The City of Virginia Beach Landfill & Resource Recovery Center is located at 1989 Jake Sears Road, Virginia Beach, VA 23464. Open Tuesday through Saturday from 7:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. If you have questions call (757) 385-1980 or email WasteMgt@VBgov.com.
Williamsburg Residents may use the James City County Jolly Pond Convenience Centers for disposing of tires. Coupons are required. Call 565-0971 for more information.
York Residents may bring up to five tires per day to the Waste Management Center for disposal. Fees apply: $1.50/for standard automobile tires without rims; $3.00 if the rim is on. Tires 19.5” or larger are $5.00 (no rim) and $7.50 (on rim). Please call for fees on additional tire sizes, (757) 890-3780.