We know it seems silly when the grocery store shelves in Atlanta are cleared of bread and milk when a mere dusting of snow is predicted. But those of us in the south are not used to having to deal with the snow, ice or the amazingly low temps we're set to experience! Now is a good time to reacquaint yourself with some cold weather tips to get you, and your home, through the season safely.
- Do not use candles for lighting if the power goes out. Use flashlights only.
- Use caution with portable space heaters. About two-thirds of home heating fire deaths are caused by portable or fixed space heaters.
- To prevent fire, place space heaters at least 3 feet away from anything combustible, including wallpaper, bedding, clothing, pets and people.
- Never leave space heaters operating when you are not in the room or when you go to bed. Don't leave children or pets unattended near space heaters.
- Drying wet mittens or other clothing over space heaters is a fire hazard.
- Make sure smoke alarms are working properly and replace batteries as necessary.
- Have your chimney connections and flues inspected by a professional and cleaned if necessary prior to the start of every heating season.
- Use a sturdy fireplace screen when burning fires. Burn only wood - never burn paper or pine boughs.
Prevent Frozen Pipes
- Keep garage doors closed if there are water supply lines in the garage or in walls adjacent to 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 temperature is very low outside, let the cold water drip from faucets served by exposed pipes or pipes in exterior walls. Running water through the pipe - even at a trickle - helps prevent pipes from freezing because the temperature of the water running through it is above 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 55ºF.
If Your Pipes Freeze
- If you turn on your faucets and nothing comes out, leave the faucets turned on and call a plumber.
- Do not use electrical appliances in areas of standing water.
- Never try to thaw a pipe with a torch or other open flame. It could cause a fire.
- You may be able to thaw a frozen pipe with warm air from a hair dryer. Start by warming the pipe as close to the faucet as possible, working toward the coldest section of pipe.
- If your water pipes have already burst, turn off the water at the main shutoff valve in the house. Leave the water faucets turned on. Make sure everyone in your family knows where the water shutoff valve is and how to open and close it.
- Winterize your vehicle and keep the gas tank full.
- A full tank will keep the fuel line from freezing.