Take Aways from the S Storm in February!

With a little bit of planning, you can protect yourself and your family while keeping your property losses to a minimum if you prepare ahead of time. Preparedness is much more than what we each do as individuals. Just keeping some extra food and water in the house isn’t going to be enough for many disasters.

How to protect your pipes from freezing?

  • Leave the heat on 24 hours a day at a temperature setting of no less than 55 degrees. 
  • Keep all windows closed. 
  • Be sure to leave open the cabinet doors under the kitchen sink and bathroom sink to allow heat to reach the plumbing. 
  • Drip all your water 24 hours a day at a steady drip about 5 drops per second when you are in the home and when you are gone. 
  • Leave all drains open, including lavatories, sinks, and bathtubs.
  • As everyone else in the city drips their faucets, the water pressure may drop, the dripping or stream may subside, and you may have to open the faucets some more. 
  • Wrap your exterior spigots. 
  • Protect your tankless water heater by also wrapping it and the pipes.
  • Don't run the washing machine or dishwasher.
  • Keep garage doors closed if the water supply is in garage

What to do if your pipes freeze?

  • Exterior pipes are most likely to freeze. If you turn on a faucet and only a trickle comes out, suspect a frozen pipe. Your pipes will begin to thaw when temperatures rise above freezing or if your power is restored and your home begins heating again, your now cracked pipes will begin to flood your home.
  • Keep the faucet open. Running water will help melt the ice pipe.
  • Use a blow dryer or a heating blanket to gently apply heat to the pipe. An important note: no open flames. 
  • Call your insurance company as well as a plumber to get in queue for repair.
  • Post on NextDoor to see if any of your neighbors are experienced plumbers if travel restrictions are a still a major problem.

What to do if a pipe bursts?

  • Locate your water shut-off valve, which is usually under a lid near the street and have your proper tools ready for closing the main shut-off valve. (Water valve shut-off tool or meter key usually 180 degrees clockwise).
  • Shut off your water at the main valve.
  • Prevent mold and mildew by using towels or wet/dry vacuum to soak up the water as quickly as possible.
  • Keep in mind that many shut off valves are difficult to locate and are generally 5' from your street in between your home and one of your neighbors. Many of the valves are frozen or rusted and are difficult to shut off.
  • If you are unable to locate your shut-off valve, contact your water providers emergency hotline.

What to do if electricity goes out?

  • Roll up spare towels or blankets, and place at the bottom of doors and windows.
  • Close window curtains and blinds. Consider hanging extra blankets over curtains for an extra layer.
  • Put on extra sweaters and jackets - layers will keep you warm.
  • Make soups and stews. They will help warm you from the inside and the residual heat from cooking helps inside the house.
  • If you have a working fireplace, you could light a fire but please make sure it is safe, has been cleaned and inspected regularly. This is very important!
  • If it’s getting cold, try to keep all family members in the same room, in the center of the house.
  • You could also pitch a tent inside your house, and sleep in there to share body heat.

What to do if you lose water?

  • Collect and melt snow for water.
  • Check for free distribution water centers.
  • Under the boil water notice, you can use washing machines and dishwashers without boiling water. 
  • Boiling water applies to hand-washing and showering. 
  • Be particularly careful if you are handling care for elders and children who are immune compromised.

How to be prepared ahead of time?

  • Stock up on essentials as soon as you hear a major storm is coming. 
  • Locate your water main shut off valve. 
  • Fill a bathtub with water than you can use to flush your toilets if the water is cut off. 
  • Bring plants and outdoor patio furniture if you are able to to prevent damage.
  • Fill your car gas tank. If you can bring your car into the garage to prevent the doors from being iced shut.
  • Charge all of your electronic devices.
  • Keep some cash around. 

What supplies to buy before a storm?

  • Drinking water- 1 gallon per person, per day, for three days
  • Food- non-perishable or frozen, enough for 3 days
  • Flashlights
  • Batteries
  • A Lighter (for the stove), or matches. Candles
  • A Lantern– we have one that has a hand crank and can serve as a device charger with a USB port- Highly recommend! 
  • A wrench- to turn off water main if necessary
  • Paper goods- plates, bowls- were very helpful when we didn’t have water to wash dishes!
  • First aid, medications, supplements- anything you might need if you can’t go out to a store for a few days.

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