Winter weather poses unique challenges to people faced with bitter temps, snow, and ice. The American Red Cross has steps you should take to stay safe if you are in the path of winter storms.
“Cold weather is impacting our area,” said Keith Rhodes, Regional Executive of the American Red Cross of North Texas. “Whether trying to keep your home warm or having to be outside in the coldest hours, you can follow these steps to keep your home and family safe.”
HEAT YOUR HOME SAFELY
It’s that time of year when many people resort to space heaters and other sources to keep their homes warm. To reduce the risk of heating-related fires, the Red Cross recommends these steps (More home fire safety information available here):
- All heaters need space. Keep children, pets, and things that can burn (paper, matches, bedding, furniture, clothing, carpets, and rugs) at least three feet away from heating equipment.
- If you must use a space heater, place it on a level, hard and nonflammable surface (such as ceramic tile floor), not on rugs, carpets, or near bedding or drapes. Plug power cords directly into outlets – never into an extension cord.
- Never leave a fire in the fireplace unattended and use a glass or metal fire screen to keep fire and embers in the fireplace.
- Never use a cooking range or oven to heat your home.
- Turn off portable space heaters every time you leave the room or go to sleep.
WATER PIPE SAFETY
- Protect pipes from freezing by taking the following precautions.:
- 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 the plumbing. Be sure to move any harmful cleaners and household chemicals up out of the reach of children.
- When freezing outside, let the cold-water drip from the faucet served by exposed pipes. Running water through the line, even at a trickle, helps prevent pipes from freezing.
- Keep the thermostat set to the same temperature 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° F.
- See additional tips https://www.redcross.org/get-help/how-to-prepare-for-emergencies/types-of-emergencies/winter-storm/frozen-pipes.html.
THE FOLLOWING STEPS HELP PIPES THAW:
- If you turn on a faucet and only a trickle comes out, suspect a frozen pipe. Likely places for frozen pipes include against exterior walls or where your water service enters your home through the foundation.
- Keep the faucet open. As you treat the frozen pipe and the frozen area begins to melt, water will flow through the ice area. Running water through the line will help melt ice in the waterline.
- Apply heat to the section of pipe using an electric heating pad wrapped around the line, an electric hair dryer, a portable space heater, kept away from flammable materials, or by wrapping pipes with towels soaked in hot water. Do not use a blowtorch, kerosene or propane heater, charcoal stove, or another open flame device.
- Apply heat until the restored full water pressure occurs. If you can’t thaw the pipe, call a licensed plumber.
- Check all other faucets in your home to find out if you have additional frozen pipes. If one pipe freezes, others may freeze, too.
STAY SAFE DURING WINTER WEATHER
- Check on your neighbors, especially older adults living alone, people with disabilities, and children.
- 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.
- Ramps, bridges, and overpasses freeze before roadways. Use caution if you must travel!
- Follow recommendations from the weather service as well as the State of Texas.
People can download the Red Cross Emergency App for instant access to weather alerts for their area and where loved ones live. The First Aid App includes expert medical guidance and a hospital locator in case travelers encounter any mishaps. Both apps are available to download for free in-app stores or at redcross.org/apps.