Protect People, Pets, Pipes and Plants During Freezing Weather

Here are some cold weather safety tips:

Protecting People

  • Stay indoors, dress warmly and use safe heating sources.

  • Guard against wind chill – One of the gravest dangers of winter weather is wind chill. The wind chill is based on the rate of heat loss from exposed skin by combined effects of wind and cold. As the wind increases, heat is carried away from the body at an accelerated rate, driving down the body temperature. Animals are also effected by wind chill.


  • Do not leave pets out in the cold.

  • Bring all pets indoors and make sure they have a warm blanket to lie on, as well as plenty of food and water.

  • If pets must stay outdoors, provide a pet house or other type of shelter and line the bottom with plenty of blankets along with extra food and water.  


  • Water expands when it freezes and can shatter pipe seals or the pipes themselves, sending water pouring through your house if ice forms. You can avoid thousands of dollars of damage to your home by taking a few simple measures to protect your home:
  • Use faucet covers, wrap rags, paper, trash bags or plastic foam around faucets and outdoor pipes.

  • Cover any vents around your home´s foundation.

  • Protect outdoor electrical pumps and bring water hoses indoors.

  • Open the cabinets under the sinks in your kitchen and bathrooms to allow heated indoor air to circulate around water pipes.

  • Insulate your outdoor water meter box and be sure its lid is secure.

  • If you have a swimming pool, either drain the circulation system or keep the pump motor running. Run the pump motor only in a short freeze. Running the motor for long periods could cause damage.

  • Let faucets drip, but do not run a big stream of water.

  • If you leave town, consider turning off your water at the shut-off valve while faucets are running to drain your pipes. Make sure the faucets are turned off before you turn the shut-off valve back on.

If Pipes Freeze

  • Turn off the water at the shut-off valve and call a plumber for help.

  • Do not use lamps or electrical appliances to thaw frozen pipes. Leaking water from thawing pipes could cause a short and you can be electrocuted.

  • If you try to thaw your own pipes, apply heat slowly, and move the heat toward the coldest spot on the pipe. Never concentrate heat in one spot – cracking ice can shatter a pipe.

Practice Fire Safety

  • Use extra care with supplemental heating units.

  • Make sure that all-combustible materials such as drapes or chairs are at least three feet away from any heating unit.

  • Avoid using flammable liquids to start fireplaces and do not leave a fireplace unattended.

  • Most importantly, check your smoke and carbon monoxide detectors to make sure they are working properly.


  • Water your plants thoroughly. The water will act as an insulator. Dry plants are more susceptible to freezing.

  • After watering, cover plants with a breathable material, such as fabric, not plastic.

  • Place mulch at the base of your plants and do not prune prior to a freeze. Pruning encourages soft growth, which is susceptible to freezing. Spraying the leaves of plants with liquid seaweed will also toughen them against cold.

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