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Moving in Inclement Weather

It's best to be prepared when moving to a colder climate. Once you and your new home are ready for nature's worst, you can enjoy the beauty of winter with ease of mind.


Fill up the Tank, Frequently -- Make sure your vehicle has a full tank of gas before you put the first box in the truck. Once you hit the road, however, it's important that you keep filling up the tank well before you reach empty. Running out of gas on the highway in a snow storm with a moving truck can be the stuff of nightmares, so save yourself the terror and fill up once you reach half a tank, or a quarter of a tank at the absolute least. If you get stranded, you'll also want to have enough gas to keep the car - and the heat - running.  Keeping your tank filled more than halfway isn't just about being prepared. According to Penske, if you have any less gas, water condensation could cause your fuel lines to freeze. Then you'd be in really big trouble.

Pack an Emergency Kit --  Keep these emergency items in your vehicle:

  • An ice scraper and a snow brush to clear your windshield of precipitation. Even if it doesn't snow, ice can form on the glass if temperatures are warm during the day and freezing overnight.
  • A box of rock salt
  • A shovel -- Have a shovel to dig out your tires, should you end up in a snowbank or it snows overnight
  • Kitty litter/two mats/Tire chains.  If your car gets stuck, put mats underneath the back tires to help give them traction. Kitty litter is a good substitute for the mats, and less of a hassle to pull out. Tire chains will also help provide traction on snowy roads.
  • Extra food, water
  • A first aid kit
  • A flashlight, extra batteries
  • Blankets and warm clothes

Plan your route
Keep an eye on the weather. If there's a snow storm crossing your path, consider leaving well in advance to get ahead of it. If you're crossing the country, try planning a different route to avoid it. Otherwise, you may want to postpone the move until weather conditions are more favorable. The weight and dimensions of a moving truck already make it more dangerous than driving most cars even if it's a sunny day. That danger becomes much greater in bad weather, especially if you're not used to driving a truck or in icy conditions. Even if there isn't a storm predicted, you will still need to be careful of ice on the roads.  Also, keep in mind that some states do a better job of maintaining their roads in bad weather than others. Massachusetts is used to extreme winter weather - it salts and plows immediately and regularly. Virginia, however, only gets snow sparingly, so it doesn't have the same infrastructure to handle adverse conditions. Sometimes that means roads are not fully plowed or sufficiently slated. has a list of additional tips to prepare for a winter storm, but here are a few:

  • Make sure your car's exhaust pipe isn't blocked and has a full tank of gas so the fuel line doesn't freeze.
  • Have a bag of rock salt or sand ready for your sidewalk and walkway.
  • To keep your pipes from freezing, insulate them or let the faucet drip a little and learn how to shut off your water valves in case a pipe bursts.
  • Make sure your windows are caulked and your house is insulated so it retains warmth longer and your heating bill doesn't skyrocket.
  • Shovel in increments as the snow falls allows you to not have to work too hard all at once and keeps you from getting too cold. Always have at least a good shovel if not a snow blower ready to go.
  • Keep a small supply of candles (preferably battery operated), matches, bottled water, non-perishable food and a small back-up power supply.
  • To prevent fires, watch your candles and be aware of where you put your space heaters and ash deposits.  One of the first things you should do in your new home is set up your smoke alarms and carbon monoxide detectors with new batteries.

Tips for Moving in the Rain --

April showers bring may flowers, or so the saying goes. The truth is that rain can occur any time.  If the forecast for you moving day is for showers, it's best to be prepared for slippery conditions which can pose a safety hazard.  Rain can ruin boxes, damage your stuff and even lead to mold growth if you don't unpack and dry your things immediately after moving. Here are some tips to help keep a rainy-day move, a safe, healthy and happy one:
  • Wear Rain Boots --  Wellies and similarly waterproof foot gear are essential for keeping dry when the puddles get deep. Those with slip-resistant soles are also helpful in preventing falls. Stairs are common and dangerous places to slip, but you should also be wary of dragging rain into the house, which may create another hazard, especially on hardwood floors. Another major concern is the metal ramp found on the backs of moving trucks, which can get very slippery. They are among the most dangerous places to fall because they're right next to the edge of the truck, they're narrow, there is usually concrete underneath them, and they're often used to carry on heavy items such as furniture and boxes.
  • Cover and Tape Goods -- Cardboard boxes don't fare well in the rain. They also don't do an excellent job of keeping excessive amounts of rain out. Try to cover boxes as you move them out to the car. At the very least, tape any seams or cracks with masking tape to help keep water from leaking through.  You'll also want to cover cloth items that absorb water easily.  Your most valuable investment is a mattress cover, as mattresses are difficult to dry out. Use trash bags to cover clothes and other items that could be damaged by rain.
  • Lay a Ground Cover -- Even if you do a good job of keeping your goods dry, rain can still get in the back of the truck and ruin your things. Lay a ground cover to help avoid puddles that can soak into the bottom of boxes.
  • Keep a Towel Around -- Drying rags and cloths are helpful when walking in and out of a house or apartment. Wipe up any rain to reduce slipping hazards. You can also lay down a few cloths for people to walk on so that they don't track in water or mud. If any of your boxes get wet, a towel is handy for drying them.

Unpack wet boxes -- Towels are a temporary solution for wet boxes. If one of them got drenched, you'll want to unpack it sooner rather than later. Wet boxes that sit around for too long can start to grow mold. This problem may not be as much of a concern for easily cleanable items such as pots or pans; however, fabric objects such as your clothes may be ruined. The worst problem would be to have your mattress or large furniture grow mold, which will smell and be costly to replace.


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