Red Cross tips for dealing with cold weather

A mobile sign reminding motorists of the weekend’s cold-weather forecast and to bring pets inside flashes outside the Montgomery County Government Center in Christiansburg on Thursday. (Photo by Larry Ward)
A mobile sign reminding motorists of the weekend’s cold-weather forecast and to bring pets inside flashes outside the Montgomery County Government Center in Christiansburg on Thursday. (Photo by Larry Ward)

A windy arctic blast is expected to bring snow flurries and overnight lows in the single-digits to Southwest Virginia today through Sunday. The blast is expected to dissipate Monday, but below-average temperatures are still being predicted.

The American Red Cross offers 10 basic steps people can take to stay safe during the cold weather.

1. Layer up. Wear layers of lightweight clothing to stay warm. Gloves and a hat will help prevent losing your body heat.

2. Don’t forget your furry friends. Bring pets indoors. If they can’t come inside, make sure they have enough shelter to keep them warm and that they can get to unfrozen water.

3. Remember the 3-feet rule. If you are using a space heater, place it on a level, hard surface and keep anything flammable at least three feet away – things such as paper, clothing, bedding, curtains or rugs.

4. Supervise heat sources. Turn off space heaters and make sure fireplace embers are out before leaving the room or going to bed.

5. Don’t catch fire. If you are using a fireplace, use a glass or metal fire screen large enough to catch sparks and rolling logs.

6. Protect pipes (see below). Run water, even at a trickle, to help prevent your pipes from freezing. Open the kitchen and bathroom cabinet doors to allow warmer air to circulate around the plumbing. Be sure to move any harmful cleaners and household chemicals out of the reach of children. Keep the garage doors closed if there are water lines in the garage.

7. Better safe than sorry. Keep the thermostat at the same temperature day and night. Your heating bill may be a little higher, but you could avoid a more costly repair job if your pipes freeze and burst.

8. The kitchen is for cooking. Never use a stove or oven to heat your home.

9. Use generators outside. Never operate a generator inside the home, including in the basement or garage.

10. Knowledge is power. Don’t hook a generator up to the home’s wiring. The safest thing to do is to connect the equipment you want to power directly to the outlets on the generator.

 

Avoid frozen pipes

Water expands as it freezes. This expansion puts tremendous pressure on whatever is containing it, including metal or plastic pipes. No matter the “strength” of a container, expanding water can cause pipes to break. Pipes that freeze most frequently are those that are exposed to severe cold, like outdoor hose bibs, swimming pool supply lines, water sprinkler lines, and water supply pipes in unheated interior areas like basements and crawl spaces, attics, garages, or kitchen cabinets. Pipes that run against exterior walls that have little or no insulation are also subject to freezing.

Here are some tips to help avoid frozen pipes:

  • Keep garage doors closed if there are water supply lines in the garage.
  • Open kitchen and bathroom cabinet doors to allow warmer air to circulate around the plumbing. Be sure to move any harmful cleaners and household chemicals up out of the reach of children.
  • When the weather is very cold outside, let the cold water drip from the faucet served by exposed pipes. Running water through the pipe – even at a trickle – helps prevent pipes from freezing.
  • Keep the thermostat set to the same temperature both during the day and at night. By temporarily suspending the use of lower nighttime temperatures, you may incur a higher heating bill, but you can prevent a much more costly repair job if pipes freeze and burst.
  • If you will be going away during cold weather, leave the heat on in your home, set to a temperature no lower than 55 degrees.

For more information on emergency preparedness, visit the American Red Cross website at www.redcross.org/prepare.

– American Red Cross

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