Winter Weather

Winter Weather

Winter storms increase the risk of car accidents, hypothermia, frostbite, carbon monoxide poisoning, and overexertion-induced heart attacks. These storms may bring extremely cold temperatures with high winds, along with the possibility of freezing rain, snow, or ice. Winter storms can last for hours or days and may disrupt heat, power, and communication services, posing heightened risks to older adults, children, individuals with health conditions, and pets.


Be Prepared

Winterize Your Home

Winterize Your Sprinkler System

Shut off the water supply to the irrigation system. The main shut-off valve for your irrigation system needs to be protected against freezing. Make sure it is wrapped with insulation (foam insulation tape and a plastic bag) to protect it from harsh winter temperatures and prevent it from freezing. If you have an automatic system then you will need to "shut down" the controller (timer). Most controllers have a "rain mode" which simply shuts off the signals to the valves.

Drain the Pipes

Remove the water from the pipes and sprinklers so that it won't freeze/expand and break the pipe.

Protect Valves and Backflow Preventers

Insulate backflow preventers and valves if they are above ground. You can also use insulation tape for this. Be sure not to block the air vents and drain outlets on backflow preventers.

Additional Home Preparedness Tips

  • Inspect your chimney
  • Insulate your attic
  • Clean out gutters
  • Caulk and weather strip doors/windows
  • Insulate exposed pipes
  • Install & test smoke alarms
  • Install & test carbon monoxide detectors

PROTECT THE 4 P'S

People

Everyone is at risk from the dangers of extreme cold, but some individuals are more vulnerable than others.

Newborns are extra sensitive to cold. They lose body heat more easily than adults and can't make enough body heat by shivering.

Elderly adults often make less body heat because of a slower metabolism and less physical activity, making them more susceptible to the cold.

Chronic Illness/Medical Conditions can put affected individuals at a higher risk for cold-related illnesses.

Outdoor Workers have an increased risk of suffering dangerous effects from long-term exposure to chilling temperatures.

  • Dress Warm
    • Wear loose layers and cover all exposed skin.
  • Stay Indoors
    • Limit or avoid time outdoors.
  • Stay Hydrated
    • Consume hot foods and warm drinks, but avoid caffeine and alcohol.
  • Be Neighborly
    • Check on your family, friends, and neighbors.

Pets

Even with a natural fur coat, winter can pose potentially fatal risks for your pets if proper care isn't given.

  • Warm & Dry
    • Bring your pets inside whenever possible. If bringing them indoors is not an option, ensure they have adequate shelter to shield them from the cold and keep them dry.
  • Food & Water
    • Stock up on extra pet food and ensure access to clean water. Dehydration is especially dangerous in winter.
  • Extra Precautions
    • Limit outside time and clean their coat and paws before bringing them back inside. 

Pipes

Preparing your pipes ahead of a freeze is crucial to prevent potential damage.

  • Insulate
    • Insulate exposed pipes using insulation sleeves or wrapping materials.
  • Seal
    • Caulk or use insulation to seal any gaps or cracks near pipes to prevent cold air from reaching them.
  • Disconnect
    • Disconnect and drain outdoor hoses, then shut off outdoor water valves.
  • Drip
    • Allow faucets to drip slightly during freezing temperatures to relieve pressure and prevent pipe bursts.
  • Temperature Control
    • Keep the thermostat set to a consistent temperature day and night, even when you're away.
  • Open Cabinets
    • For pipes located in cabinets under sinks, open the cabinet door to allow warm air to circulate them.

Plants

Safeguard your plants from freezing temperatures.

  • Water
    • Hydrate plants adequately before the freeze. Moist soil retains more heat and helps to withstand the cold.
  • Cover
    • Use blankets, burlap, or frostcloths to cover sensitive plants overnight. Avoid using plastic directly on plants.
  • Mulch
    • Apply a layer of mulch around the base of plants to help insulate the roots and retain soil warmth.
  • Indoors
    • Bring potted plants indoors.
  • Windbreaks
    • Set up barriers, such as burlap screens or fencing, to shield plants from strong winds.

Ensuring each of these areas is prepared can help mitigate the potential risks and challenges associated with winter weather.

Stay Safe & Warm

Staying warm is your first priority when it comes to extremely cold temperatures, but sometimes warming up, comes with dangerous risks to you and your home.

Heater Safety

  • Make sure you have a working smoke alarm.
  • Never leave children unattended in a room with a space heater.
  • Place space heaters on a solid, flat, level surface.
  • Do not allow children or pets to play with space heaters.
  • Keep all combustible materials, including yourself, at least three (3) feet from heaters.
  • Ensure you have ventilation to prevent carbon monoxide poisoning.
  • Never overload outlets or breakers.
  • Don’t use extension cords for a heater.
  • If the cord is hot to the touch, turn off the heater and unplug it!
  • Electric heaters permanently installed in the wall or ceiling should have lint and dust removed regularly. Lint and dust will burn!

Generator Safety

Generators can be helpful when the power goes out, but it's important to know how to use them safely to prevent carbon monoxide poisoning and other hazards.

  • Generators and fuel should always be used outdoors and at least 20 feet away from windows, doors, and attached garages.
  • Install working carbon monoxide detectors on every level of your home. Carbon monoxide is a colorless, odorless gas that can be fatal to you, your family, and your pets.
  • Keep the generator dry and protected from rain or flooding. Touching a wet generator or devices connected to one can cause electrical shock.
  • Always connect the generator to appliances with heavy-duty extension cords.
  • Let the generator cool before refueling. Fuel spilled on hot engine parts can ignite.
  • Follow the manufacturer’s instructions carefully.

Stay Off the Road

When the freezing temperatures arrive, we strongly encourage residents to stay off the roads during frozen precipitation events. However, if you must travel, please use extreme caution and remember to drive slowly and allow additional braking time to come to a complete stop.