Managing your well in a Muskoka Drought

dug_wellIn all areas, including Muskoka, groundwater levels in wells will vary over time.  While we are not experiencing an official drought yet, we are definitely in a “dry spell” and more and more people are starting to have issues with water levels and the quality of water in their wells. Water conservation and pump adjustments can help manage your water well during drought.

Droughts can be stressful for the many Muskoka residents who rely on private wells for their water supply. As wells tap groundwater aquifers that cannot easily be seen or monitored the very invisible nature of groundwater leads to an uneasy feeling among home and cottage owners relying on wells. There is an almost constant fear that their water supply could dry up without warning. 

The Normal Cycle of Groundwater Levels

The water level in a groundwater well will fluctuate naturally during the year. Groundwater levels tend to be highest during March and April in response to winter snowmelt and spring rainfall. The movement of rain and snowmelt into groundwater is known as recharge.

Groundwater levels usually begin to fall in May and continue to decline during the summer. Groundwater recharge is limited during late spring and summer because trees and other plants use the available water to grow. Natural groundwater levels usually reach their lowest point in late September or October. In late fall, after trees and plants have stopped growing and before snow begins to fall, groundwater levels may rise in response to rainfall and recharge. Groundwater recharge persists through the fall until cold temperatures produce snowfall and frozen soil that limit the ability of water to infiltrate into the ground. Groundwater levels during winter may be stable or fall slightly until spring snowmelt and rainstorms start the annual cycle again. Given this natural cycle of groundwater, most problems with wells tend to occur in late summer or early fall when groundwater levels naturally reach their lowest levels.

How Can I Conserve Water?

Water conservation measures become critical during times of drought. If you rely on a private well, you should conserve water as mush as possible always and especially as soon as drought conditions occur.

You can significantly reduce the water use within your cottage or home by making changes in habits and by installing water-saving devices. Examples might include flushing the toilet less often, taking shorter showers, only washing full loads of dishes or laundry, not rinsing dishes before the dishwasher unless especially dirty, not rinsing anything under running water but filling a sink or basin to rinse, brushing teeth with a glass of water and not a running tap, collecting water from roof gutters into rain barrels for outside use. Other good things to implement are household bans on the nonessential use of water such as car washing and lawn watering.  

What Can I Do If My Well Runs Dry?

There are a number of reasons why a well may quit producing water. Water quality problems like iron bacteria and sediment may clog the well and severely restrict water flow and the recovery rate of the well. This becomes more noticeable in dry seasons when there is less ground water available. Shocking or cleaning your well may increase the flow of water however it will not bring back water to a dry well unless the water table comes back up.

Under persistent dry weather conditions, the water level in your well may drop below the submersible pump or intake foot valve, causing a loss of water. In some cases, the water level may only temporarily drop below the pump/intake when water is being frequently drawn from the well during showers or laundry. Under these conditions, you may be able to continue using the well by initiating emergency water conservation measures and using water only for essential purposes.

If the water level permanently drops below the submersible pump or intake, it may be possible to lower the pump/intake within the existing well. In most cases this will only provide a short-term solution to the problem. More permanent solutions require either deepening the existing well or drilling a new well. Be aware that deepening an existing well may not increase the well yield and could produce water of different water quality characteristics. You should consult with a local well driller  to determine the best solution for your situation.

Proper management of private wells during droughts will become more important as competition for water in Muskoka increases.

Can I have water delivered to my well?

The simple answer is of course yes but the honest one is that it is not worth it. A well is a tube not a cistern. It has no bottom so if you put in several hundred gallons of water it will seep out of the bottom until it is gone or reaches the level of the water table. You will only be able to benefit from the water for a brief time before it drains away. Having water delivered to your well is not a fix and much of what you pay for will seep away.

As a Muskoka realtor I try to ensure that my buyers are aware of the water source at any potential home or cottage they want to purchase. I include a potability (safe drinking water) clause and often include a clause about the well pump and production. However, no home owner can control the water table and if you are living with a well, or plan to be, you will need to understand how it works and how to best protect your family in the occasional drought we experience here in Muskoka.

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Getting Your Home Winter Ready in Muskoka

Eavestrough-Cleaning-Karen ActonOK, so the snow fell, the thermostat dropped, and you still have not done any winter prep around your Muskoka home or cottage. All is not lost; the weather man says that it will be gone in a day or two, so you still have time to get things done. Let this little dive into winter be a great reminder that you still have a few unfinished home maintenance tasks left to check off the list.

Here are some helpful lists I have put together for you from the many great resources on-line. Hope you find them helpful.

Windows and Doors

  1. Check the weather stripping around windows and doorframes for leaks to prevent heat loss. Replace weather stripping, if necessary.
  2. Replace all screen doors with storm doors if you have them.
  3. Replace all window screenswith storm windows if you have this type of window system.
  4. Examine wooden window frames for signs of rot or decay and repair if required.
  5. Check for drafts around windows and doors. Caulk inside and out, where necessary, to keep heat from escaping.

Lawn, Garden, and Deck

  1. Trim overgrown branches back from the house and electrical wires to prevent iced-over or wind-swept branches from causing property damage or a power problem.
  2. Aerate the lawn, reseed, and apply a winterizing fertilizer to promote deep-root growth come spring.
  3. Ensure rain or snow drains away from the house to avoid foundation problems. Make sure the ground slopes away from the house. Add extra soil to low areas, as necessary.
  4. Clean and dry patio furniture. Cover with a heavy tarp or store inside a shed or garage to protect it from the elements.
  5. Clean soil from planters. Bring pots made of clay or other fragile materials indoors.
  6. Dig up flower bulbs, brush off soil, and label. Store bulbs in a bag or box with peat moss in a cool, dry place for spring replanting.
  7. Remove any attached hoses and store them away for the winter to prevent cracks, preserve their shapes, and prolong their life.
  8. Shut off exterior faucets. Drain water from outdoor pipes, valves, and sprinkler heads to protect against pipe bursts.
  9. Inspect decks for splintering, decay, or insect damageand treat, if needed, to prevent further deterioration over the winter. Clean leaves, dirt, and pine needles between the boards of wooden decks to thwart mold and mildew growth.
  10. Inspect outdoor lighting around the property. Good illumination will help minimize the chance of accidents on icy walkways at night.
  11. Check handrails on exterior stairs to make sure they’re well secured.

Tools and Machinery

  1. Bring all seasonal tools inside and spray them with a coating of lightweight oil to prevent rust.
  2. Weatherize your lawn mower by cleaning off mud, leaves, grass, and debris.
  3. Move your snow blower and shovels to the front of the garageor shed for easy access.
  4. Prepare the snow blower for the first snowfall by changing the oil and replacing the spark plug.
  5. Sharpen ice chopper and inspect snow shovels to make sure they’re ready for another season of work.
  6. Make sure you have an ample supply of ice melt or sand on hand for steps, walkways, and the driveway.

Heating, Ventilating, and Air Conditioning

  1. Inspect the firebox and flue system to ensure that they’re clean of any soot or creosote and that there aren’t any cracks or voids that could cause a fire hazard.
  2. Check fireplace for drafts. If it’s cold despite the damper being closed, the damper itself may be warped, worn, or rusted. Consider installing a Chimney Balloon into the flue to air seal the area tightly.
  3. Clean or replace the air filter in your furnace for maximum efficiency and improved indoor air quality.
  4. Clean your whole house humidifier and replace the evaporator pad.
  5. Bleed valves on any hot-water radiators to increase heating efficiency by releasing air that may be trapped inside.
  6. Check that smoke alarms and carbon monoxide detectors are in working order.
  7. Remove air conditioners from windows or cover them with insulated liners, to prevent drafts.
  8. If you have an older thermostat, consider replacing it with a programmable unit to save on heating costs.
  9. Install foam-insulating sheets behind outlets and switch plates on exterior walls to reduce outside airflow.
  10. Make sure fans are switched to the reverse or clockwise position, which will blow warm air down to the floor for enhanced energy efficiency and comfort.
  11. Flush hot water heater tank to remove sediment, and check the pressure relief valve to make sure it’s in proper working order.
  12. Examine exposed ducts in the attic, basement, and crawl spaces, and use a sealant to plug up any leaks.

Gutters, Roof, and Drains

  1. Check for missing, damaged or warped shingles and replace, as necessary before you get stuck with a leak.
  2. Check for deteriorated flashing at the chimney, walls, and skylights and around vent pipes. Seal joints where water could penetrate using roofing cement and a caulking gun.
  3. Check the gutters and downspouts for proper fastening, and re-secure if loose or sagging. The weight of snow and icecan pull gutters off the house.
  4. Clean gutters of any debris. Make sure downspouts extend away from the house by at least 5 feet to prevent flooding of the foundation and water damage from snowmelt.
  5. Ensure all vents and openings are covered to prevent insects, birds, and rodents from getting inside to nest in a warm place.

It is always a challenge to get started with a long list of chores but by taking care of your property you prolong the life of it and you will enjoy a safe and warm winter in this beautiful winter wonderland we call home.

Make the most of composting in your Bracebridge Home

Composting Karen Acton Bracebridge RealtorThe District of Muskoka undertakes the waste management for all the communities in Muskoka including here in Bracebridge. There are extensive recycling programs that reflect the mindset of our beautiful area. We love the beauty and pristine nature of Muskoka and we want to keep it that way.

In the urban areas within the district there is a green box program for organic waste. The district collects this waste and turns it into compost which is then offered back to the residents in the spring just in time for putting into their gardens.

Compost is a fantastic way to recycle.  If you are outside of the urban areas that have this District service or not currently a Muskoka resident, here are some “how to” tips for making your own compost. Nature creates compost all the time without human intervention.  You can simply put you organic waste into an animal proof container and leave it to decompose nature’s way.  But as a homeowner you can step in and speed up the composting process by creating the optimal conditions for decomposition: Air + Water + Carbon + Nitrogen = Compost

Air  – Like most living things, the bacteria that decompose organic matter and the other creatures that make up the compost ecosystem, need air. Compost scientists say compost piles need porosity—the ability for air to move into the pile. You can think of porosity in terms of fluffiness. A fluffy pile has plenty of spaces—or pores—for air to move about. A flat, matted pile of, say, grass clippings does not. Even fluffy piles compress during the composting process. Occasionally turning your pile re-fluffs the material, moves new material into the center, and helps improve air flow into the pile.

Water  – Compost microbes also need the right amount of water. Too much moisture reduces airflow, causes temperatures to fall, and can make the pile smell. Too little water slows decomposition and prevents the pile from heating. Conventional wisdom says that compost should feel like a wrung-out sponge.

Carbon Ingredients  – The microbes that break down organic matter use carbon as an energy source. Ingredients with a high percentage of carbon are usually dry and brown or yellow in color. The most common high-carbon ingredients are leaves, straw, and corn stalks. Sometimes people call these ingredients browns.

Nitrogen Ingredients –  Microbes need nitrogen for the proteins that build their tiny bodies. Ingredients high in nitrogen are generally green, moist plant matter, such as leaves, or an animal by-product, such as manure. These ingredients are called greens, but in reality they can be green, brown, and all colors in between.

C/N Ratio  –  In order for a compost pile to decompose efficiently, you need to create the right ratio of carbon (C) to nitrogen (N) (C/N). Piles with too much nitrogen tend to smell, because the excess nitrogen converts into an ammonia gas. Carbon-rich piles break down slowly because there’s not enough nitrogen for the microbe population to expand. An ideal compost pile should have a 30:1 C/N ratio. Grass clippings alone have about a 20:1 C/N ratio. Adding one part grass clippings, or other green, to two parts dead leaves, or other brown, will give you the right mix.

The District of Muskoka provides a list of items that can be put into urban compost which includes more of the nitrogen rich components than you should use in a home system but not the garden waste, however with your garden waste mixed in with your kitchen waste you should be able to create an awesome compost pile.

Remember in Muskoka, the amount of curbside waste you can put out for weekly pick-up is limited so using the recycling program makes it easy to comply. Without recycling you will likely find it difficult to avoid creating too much garbage. Reduce, reuse and recycle to keep Muskoka beautiful!

New Mortgage Rules and your Muskoka Home

Modern Family E.jpgYou may or may not know that the federal government recently announced some big changes concerning the guidelines for borrowers of high-ratio mortgages – a borrower who has a deposit of less than 20 per cent of the purchase price of a home. These guidelines must be adhered to by banks but not private mortgage lenders.

If you plan to borrow from a bank and need mortgage default insurance you must now meet the mortgage “stress test.” This means that as a borrower, you must be able to carry a mortgage based on current Bank of Canada rate for a five-year term which is currently 4.64%. This could be much higher than the rate for the term that your bank may be willing to offer you. Current 5 year posted fixed rates at many major banks are under 3%. While your payment will be based on the actual rate charged by your bank for the mortgage you agree upon, you must qualify based on the higher rate.  This means if you are “tight” on your debt service ratio calculation you may be qualify for less than you did prior to this change. Taking the time to get pre-approved is even more important now than before.

If you already have a home these new requirements and guidelines do not affect you, or if your pre-approved mortgage commitment was already in existence prior to Oct. 17, 2016, however there may have a deadline for you to use that commitment. These changes are only for high ratio mortgages and will not affect you if you have more than 20% down payment.

If you are considering an investment property in Muskoka you will be glad to know these new provisions do not affect you. However, that is because most lenders have restricted the amount they will lend on investment properties to 80 per cent of the appraised value or purchase price, whichever is the lower amount.

These changes will likely affect the ability of some first-time home buyers to qualify for a mortgage.  If you are a first-time buyer it may mean a longer wait before your purchase while you accumulate a bigger deposit or it may mean making the decision that your first home will be a little less glamorous than you may have hoped for.

This may all sound a bit gloomy but let’s be positive about it. By using this stress test, you should be less stressed about your ability to make your payments each month and when your mortgage comes up for maturity, IF the interest rates are higher, you should be able to afford the increased payment.

Ultimately this is a consumer protection bid by our government designed to help people keep their homes and not lose them if interest rates increase significantly.

November was Financial Literacy Month, and CREA (Canadian Real Estate Association)  the national association to which I belong, has developed some resources you can use all year long to help understand some of the trickier financial concepts you might encounter during the home buying process.

There is a series of eight videos which cover topics from amortization to mortgage pre-payment to the Home Buyers’ Plan (HBP) and beyond. Each video is under two minutes and done in a fun, animated style, the videos break down some of the financial terms and implications you might come across.

The videos can be found here 

You may also enjoy looking at the Homebuyers’ Road Map, a publication developed in collaboration with the Financial Consumer Agency of Canada, to help Canadians navigate the home buying journey.

Ultimately knowledge is power so I hope you will use these resources and will not hesitate to call me if you have any questions about buying your first or next home in Muskoka or if you have questions about your present home and the implications of these new mortgage rules.

 

 

Fall and Winter Safety Tips for Your Muskoka Home

Fall Maintenance in your Bacebridge Home - Karen ActonIt’s finally here, in spite of the glorious weather the leaves are turning and Fall has arrived. October usually brings us our first burst of cold and a time change that means it’s time to check our smoke and C02 alarms again. It is also a great time to check your furnace filters and clean out the dust that may have accumulated in your duct work.

Here are some other tips put together from the web site of the Ontario Fire Marshal to help keep you and your Muskoka home safe.

FIREPLACES

• Clean the ashes regularly. When you remove fireplace embers or ash, place them in a metal container with a lid and cover them with water. Do not place them in a plastic or paper bag or other container that is not fire-resistant. Do not dispose of them indoors or close to your home or another structure.
• Use care with “fire salts,” which produce coloured flames when thrown on wood fires. They contain heavy metals that can cause intense gastrointestinal irritation and vomiting if eaten. Keep them away from children.
• Never burn gift wrappings, boxes, cartons, or other types of packing in the fireplace. They burn too rapidly and generate far too much heat.
• Always use a screen in front of the fireplace to protect against flying sparks.
• Never use gasoline or any other flammable liquids to start a fire.
• Use only seasoned and dried wood.
• Never leave the fire unattended or let it smolder.

CANDLES

• Extinguish candles when leaving the room or going to sleep. Keep lit candles away from items that can catch fire
• Place candles in sturdy, burn-resistant containers that won’t tip over and are big enough to collect dripping wax.
• Don’t place lit candles near windows, where blinds or curtains may close or blow over them.
• Don’t use candles in high traffic areas where children or pets could knock them over.
• Never leave children or pets alone in a room with lit candles.
• Do not allow older children to light candles in their bedrooms. A forgotten candle or an accident is all it takes to start a fire.
• During power outages, exercise caution when using candles as a light source. Many destructive fires start when potential fire hazards go unnoticed in the dark.
• Never use a candle for light when fueling equipment such as a camp fuel heater or lantern.
• Keep candle wicks short at all times. Trim the wick to one-quarter inch (6.4 mm).
• Be wary of buying novelty candles. Avoid candles surrounded by flammable paint, paper, dried flowers, or containers that can melt or break.
• Never let candles burn out completely. Extinguish taper and pillar candles when they burn to within two inches of the holder, and container candles before the last half-inch of wax begins to melt.
• Use extreme caution when carrying a lit candle, holding it well away from your clothes and any combustibles that may be along your path.

HEATING SYSTEMS

• Keep anything that can burn at least three-feet away from heating equipment, like the furnace, fireplace, wood stove, or portable space heater.
• Have a three-foot “kid-free zone” around open fires and space heaters.
• Never use your oven to heat your home.
• Have a qualified professional install stationary space heating equipment, water heaters or central heating equipment according to the local codes and manufacturer’s instructions.
• Have heating equipment and chimneys cleaned and inspected every year by a qualified professional.
• Remember to turn portable heaters off when leaving the room or going to bed.
• Always use the right kind of fuel, specified by the manufacturer, for fuel burning space heaters.
• Be sure all furnace controls and emergency shutoffs are in proper working condition.
• Leave furnace repairs to qualified specialists. Do not attempt repairs yourself unless you are qualified.
• Inspect the walls and ceiling near the furnace and along the chimney line. If the wall is hot or discoloured, additional pipe insulation or clearance may be required.
• Check the flue pipe and pipe seams. Are they well supported, free of holes, and cracks? Soot along or around seams may be an indicator of a leak.
• Is the chimney solid, with no cracks or loose bricks? All unused flue openings should be sealed with solid masonry.

KITCHEN SAFETY

• If you are sleepy or have consumed alcohol don’t use the stove or stovetop.
• Stay in the kitchen while you are frying, grilling, or broiling food. If you leave the kitchen for even a short period of time, turn off the stove.
• If you are simmering, baking, roasting, or boiling food, check it regularly, remain in the home while food is cooking, and use a timer to remind you that you are cooking.
• Keep anything that can catch fire — oven mitts, wooden utensils, food packaging, towels or curtains — away from your stovetop.
• Again, have a “kid-free zone” of at least 3 feet around the stove and areas where hot food or drink is prepared or carried.

Grease and fat fires are a leading cause of home fires in Canada, so be extra careful when doing this kind of cooking. Here’s what to do if grease in a pot or pan catches fire:

• Smother the flames by covering the pan with a lid. Do not remove the lid until the pan is completely cooled.
• Turn off the heat immediately.
• Use baking soda (flour can be explosive) on shallow grease fires.
• Never turn on the overhead fan, as this could spread the fire.
• Never throw water on a grease fire.

It may seem that I am stating the obvious but it is amazing how easily we can become complacent and after such a long and lovely summer at your Muskoka Home or Cottage it is a good thing to take a moment to think about the things we all need to do as we shift from summer mode to winter mode. Remember, as we “fall back” change your clock and take time to make your Muskoka home or cottage safe for Fall and Winter.

Avoiding Buyer’s Remorse When You Buy a Muskoka Home

the-thinkerDid you ever buy something special and later realize you didn’t really need it or like it after all? It could have been something as small as a new shirt or pair of shoes or as big as an appliance, but no matter what it was, returning it was likely, as easy as packing it back up, locating the receipt, and taking it back to the store for a full refund or exchange.

Most things you buy you get to try first, however, unlike store merchandise or a car you can test drive, you can’t “try before you buy” your new Muskoka home.

This makes your decision to buy or not buy extremely important and potentially stressful. Not only is a home a huge investment, it’s also where your family will be spending the next several years of your lives.
Your home is not just a shelter; it is where your memories are made.

Here are some suggestions so you can avoid feeling remorseful after your offer has been accepted, or worse, living in a house you don’t love.

Make a checklist.                                                                                                                                    Make a list of the things that are really important to you in a home. Ensure you include the ‘can’t have’ as well as the ‘want to have’. Some things will be ‘must have’ – deal breakers; others may be more negotiable. Separate the needs from the wants. It can be helpful to choose the top three.

When viewing homes, it’s hard to remember details after you have seen several houses, so take the list with you and check off items that each property has and make notes regarding missing ones. Can you be happy without them? Can they be improved or added later? It’s important to share this information with your REALTOR® and provide lots of feedback at each showing to help narrow down your search.
Have you seen the home more than once?
No matter how much you think you love a property, if you’ve only seen it once, you could be heading for buyer’s remorse. If possible, go back at a different time of day to get another perspective. You may see things differently the second time around. You may have missed something during your first visit that will stand out the second time. Or, you may like the home even better.

Explore every aspect the property.
Your first viewing of the property will have provided a basic understanding of the floor plan, condition and size. But, to really know if it is the right one for you, take time to experience the property. Your REALTOR® will want you to be sure it right for you too. Drive around the neighbourhood. Walk the boundaries of the lot, and look at the back of the home. Open every closet and go in the all the rooms, the basement, and garage. An offer can include a Home Inspection condition. This will provide an additional opportunity for you, along with your Home Inspector, to carefully review all aspects of the home.

Is this home what you set out to buy in the first place?
Frequently buyers modify their wants and needs throughout the search process. Did you lose focus on what you were looking for? Is this home going to meet your needs now and for the foreseeable future? Have you made a compromise that you will regret? Choosing a different neighbourhood to get a better price could end up being a mistake. Be sure you do not lose sight of the “needs” part of you search criteria by getting caught up in the “wants”.

Do you “want” this house or do you want to “win” this house?
Often, in a competitive situation, a buyer just wants to “win.” If you’re competing in a multiple offer situation, step back and ask yourself: Is this the home I really want or do I just want to beat out the other buyers? Also, has the potential purchase price exceeded your comfort zone? Putting an offer on a home at a price reflective of its market value is one thing. But after a few rounds of counter offers you may be looking at an amount that exceeds the list price. This may still be the home’s value but if it is more than you can comfortably afford it may be time to step away rather than “win”.
So, if you think you’ve found the perfect Muskoka home, ask yourself these questions. Ultimately, I want a client to sign an agreement only when they are completely convinced they have found the right home for them. If the home is not a “good fit” it cannot be put it back in the box and returned for a refund!

As your REALTOR® it is my mission to help you find a Muskoka home that will not only meet your needs but will bring you a sense of joy and contentment for years to come.

Here Comes Summer – Is Your Muskoka Home Ready?

towelsMonday June 20th is the official start of summer this year, but why wait until then to get into the summer spirit? You know I often advise getting a jump-start on things so here are a few tips for preparing your home and garden for a wonderful Muskoka summer.

1. Repair screen doors. If you use them, now is the time to take down the storm doors and put up screen doors to let the summer breezes pour in. Be sure to inspect screens carefully, patching holes as needed — even a tiny hole can be enough to let in a mosquito.

2. Schedule some outdoor projects. Are you dreaming of a new patio or need to replace a deck? Don’t delay booking a pro for your projects because in our short construction season the best professionals get booked up early.

3. Check your cooling systems. Take the time before hot weather sets in to dust ceiling fans, install window air-conditioning units, and schedule maintenance for a whole-house cooling system.

4. Eaves toughs and downspouts. If you did not get your eaves troughs cleaned this spring, be sure to get this important job checked off your list as soon as possible. Leaves and pine needles in gutters can lead to leaks and siding damage with summer storms.

5. Catch up on some maintenance. None of us are perfect, and chances are there are a few home-maintenance projects you have been meaning tackle.Why not make June the month to get caught up?

6. Create a drying station for towels and bathing suits. If you re blessed to own a Muskoka Cottage or home with a pool, then soggy towels getting dragged through your home is a mess waiting to happen. Choose a dedicated spot, either just outside the door (a covered porch works well) or in the mudroom, and hang a row of sturdy hooks for wet towels and bathing suits. Once dry, sand can be easily shaken off outdoors, so it doesn’t end up in your washing machine!

7. Reorganize your kitchen. Yes, you do have seasons in your kitchen too! If there are small appliances you use more in the warmer months like a crock pot now is the time to put it away and get out the ice cream maker. Stations devoted to a certain purpose can also do wonders. If you have children on summer vacation, create a self-help station stocked with healthy snacks.

8. Refresh first-aid kits and emergency supplies. Be prepared for everything from minor scrapes to natural disasters with well-stocked first-aid kits in the house and car, plus emergency supplies for your family and pets. Not sure what to include? The Canadian Red Cross has a helpful checklist.

9. Brighten up decor. Put away the heavy rugs, put crisp percale or cooling linen sheets on the beds, and bring in accents in lighter shades for the warmer months ahead.

10. Refresh your bathroom. Shower curtain liner looking a little dingy? Bath towels seen better days? Give your bathroom a mini spa makeover, and swap out your tired bath linens for fresh new ones.

11. Get the summer fun gear ready. From camping to beach trips, summertime activities come with a lot of gear. Get it cleaned up and ready now so that you’re not surprised by a leaky tent or blown-out beach umbrella when it’s too late to replace them.

Remember we live in one of the world most beautiful places. Muskoka is full of great things to do, so being prepared allows you lots of time to enjoy being in your Muskoka home or cottage.