Winter Weather Safety
Texas homeowners and renters should be prepared to protect their homes when temperatures drop below the freezing mark for more than 24 hours.
Frozen pipes are an annual issue for many Texans
A hard freeze could result in frozen water pipes, which can lead to pipes bursting and leaking. A prolonged cold spell can freeze unprotected water lines due to water freezing and expanding in the line, which will cause small cracks in the pipes. Water leaks then occur when the temperature warms up and the frozen pipes thaw out.
ICT recommends taking these following steps to avoid frozen water pipes.
- Unhook any outdoor water hoses to your faucets.
- Wrap outdoor pipes and faucets with insulating material and secure as needed.
- Check hardware stores for insulation products that fit over outside water faucets.
- Open doors under your sinks to provide warm air circulation to pipes along exterior walls.
- Circulate the water in your home by dripping at least one sink.
- Keep the thermostat set to 55 degrees or warmer in your home.
- If a leak is detected inside the home, shut off the water to the house immediately to prevent further damage, and contact a plumber.
- Document any leaks and repairs and keep receipts of all expenses.
Texas homeowner policies provide differing levels of coverage for water damage. Check your policy or contact your agent or insurance company to determine if you have coverage for freezing pipes and if so, how much coverage. Also check the deductible on your insurance policy, a minor pipe break and repair may not exceed the deductible amount.
Cold Weather Driving Tips
- Keep a bundle of cold-weather gear in your car, such as extra food and water, warm clothing, a flashlight, a glass scraper, blankets, medications, and more.
- Make certain your tires are properly inflated and have plenty of tread.
- Keep at least half a tank of fuel in your vehicle at all times.
- Never warm up a vehicle in an enclosed area, such as a garage.
- Do not use cruise control when driving on any slippery surface, such as ice and snow.
- Drive slowly. Always adjust your speed down to account for lower traction when driving on snow or ice.
- Accelerate and decelerate slowly. Apply the gas slowly to regain traction and avoid skids. Don’t try to get moving in a hurry and take time to slow down for a stoplight. Remember: It takes longer to slow down on icy roads.
- Increase your following distance to five to six seconds. This increased margin of safety will provide the longer distance needed if you have to stop.
Winter Fire Prevention
Fireplaces can be a danger if not properly attended, but many Texans also use small, portable heaters to warm up cold areas of the home. While many modern heaters have safety features to prevent accidental fires, not all do, and older heaters can be especially dangerous. Half of all heating fires occur in December, January and February.
- Heating equipment is involved in 1 in every 7 reported home fires and 1 in every 5 home fire deaths.
- Keep anything that can burn at least three feet from any heat source.
- Plug only one heat producing appliance into an electrical outlet at a time.
- Store cooled fireplace ashes in a tightly covered metal container outside the home and at least ten feet from any building.
- Have a qualified professional clean and inspect your chimney every year. Even if you don’t use your fireplace frequently, birds or other animals can block the chimney and cause problems when you use it the first time.