Tips for handling the cold weather

DENVER - With Meteorologist Mike Nelson forecasting a low of 5 degrees and a high of just 10 Wednesday, here are some tips for protecting yourself and your property from the extreme cold.

Tuesday night, Meteorologist Matt Makens noticed his local grocery store was nearly sold out of milk as Coloradans prepared for the storm. However, groceries are not the only items experts suggest we gather and prepare before a winter storm.

Colorado State Patrol recommends preparing a "Go Bag" for your car.

"A go bag has a flashlight blankets, high energy snack bars, water, gloves & hat. Check that you have jump cables, tools & a full spare tire," they tweeted.

The Burn Center at the University of Colorado Hospital offered these suggestions for protecting yourself from frostbite: 

   -Be prepared for winter weather and dress appropriately in multiple loose layers of clothing with the top layer being wind proof and water repellant.  The layers help trap air and keep you warm.

   -Remove wet clothing as soon as possible.

   -Wear mittens instead of gloves as they offer better protection.

   -Limit the amount of time you are outdoors.  Frostbite can occur within minutes on a day that is less than 20 degrees Fahrenheit with winds of 20 mph.

   -Do not drink alcohol if you will be outside on a cold day.

One of the keys to protecting your property is to protect pipes from the freezing temperatures. The Colorado Springs Fire Department offered these tips for commercial and residential properties:

Commercial Properties: 

   -Have your fire suppression systems properly maintained by a licensed contractor to ensure working order and avoid do-it-yourself repairs.

   -Conduct a physical inspection of all buildings and areas protected by fire sprinklers before the cold weather arrives.

   -Know how to operate the sprinkler system and shut down the system in the event a pipe bursts.

   -Provide adequate heat to all affected areas by extension of the existing heating system rather than other means such as space heaters or other localized heating appliances.

   -Do not use torches or other open flame devices to thaw pipes or other equipment.

   -Do not use temporary heating equipment such as salamanders and other un-vented portable fuel-burning heaters. These, as well as portable electric heaters, present unnecessary fire and health hazards.

   -Keep doors, windows and vents closed when not in use and repair broken windows, doors and cracks in the walls to prevent cold air from entering.

   -Insulate pipes that may be exposed to outside temperatures.

   -Pay particular attention to piping in attics, entries, penthouses, stairways, under floor areas, above ceilings, shipping, and similar out-of-the-way areas where low temperatures might occur.

   -If the sprinkler system is to be exposed to freezing temperatures, such as when a buildings heating system is planned to be shut off or interrupted for a period of time, precautionary measures must be taken. The system's water may have to be drained and a fire watch established or temporary heating provided. Never shut off a system without notifying the fire department that the system is out of service.

Residential Properties:

   -Check around the home for other areas where water supply lines are located in unheated areas. Look in the basement, crawl space, attic, garage, and under kitchen and bathroom cabinets. Both hot and cold water pipes in these areas should be insulated.

   -Consider installing specific products made to insulate water pipes like a "pipe sleeve" or installing UL-listed "heat tape," "heat cable," or similar materials on exposed water pipes

   -Properly drain automatic landscaping sprinkler systems.

   -Disconnect all hoses from water supplies around the outside of your home.

   -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 around the plumbing.

   -When the weather is very cold outside, let the cold water drip from the faucet served by exposed pipes. Running water through the pipe - even at a trickle - helps prevent pipes from freezing.

   -Keep the thermostat set to the same temperature both 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.

   -If you have a home fire sprinkler system, have it evaluated by a professional fire sprinkler company to make sure the system is operational. Systems containing antifreeze should be inspected annually.

Print this article Back to Top