Temperatures are expected to plummet across New England this weekend with wind chills approaching -45 degrees! Conditions like this can cause frozen pipes, basement floods, and rapid frostbite. Check out the article below for some useful tips for preparing homes and businesses for winter weather, and to help prevent injury. Feel free to pass these tips on to your family, friends, and neighbors.
How to Protect Yourself from the Elements and Frostbite
- The plunging temperatures of a cold snap can be more than uncomfortable. Arctic air can also be hazardous to your health, especially when it’s accompanied by fast, chilly wind.
- Protect your core. When outside, wear a down jacket if available, otherwise, layer your clothing.
- Safeguard your extremities. Especially earlobes, tip of the nose, fingers, and toes—which are at highest risk for frostbite. Double up on socks. Make sure children in particular keep their hats firmly on their heads.
- Take extra care with babies and seniors. The elderly and young children are particularly vulnerable to the cold—the elderly because their thermal regulatory mechanisms are not as functional as when they were younger. Children, and especially babies have a harder time maintaining a normal body temperature.
How to Prevent Frozen Pipes
Frigid temperatures throughout the Northeast are a recurring pattern every winter, and your water pipes hate it as much as you do. When arctic air is in the forecast, consider these tips:
- Drain, winterize, and shut down all outdoor spigots and watering sources—before the cold sets in.
- If you have an attached garage, keep the doors shut except for exit and entry. Garages (and the pipes located in them) get colder than you might expect!
- If you’re leaving your property for an extended period of time, consider shutting off the main water supply line and winterizing your appliances. A licensed, fully insured plumber can perform this work for you. Additionally, keep your heat on low and ask someone to check on your property regularly.
- During particularly cold spells, consider opening kitchen and bathroom cabinet doors to allow warm air to circulate around plumbing. Just be sure those open cabinet doors are out of everyone’s way!
Heat and Electric
Heating and electric equipment pose unique risks, particularly in the winter months. Here are some tips to keep in mind.
- Never store combustible materials around heating and electrical equipment such as furnaces, hot water heaters, boilers, and electrical panels. Maintain at least three feet of clearance around them at all times.
- Plumbing, heating, and electric work are not DIY projects – leave them to the professionals! Utilize only licensed, fully insured plumbers and electricians for all preventive and routine maintenance.
- Ensure fresh air intake piping, combustion gas discharge piping, and exterior fuel connection points are free and clear of accumulating or drifting snow.
- It may seem counterintuitive, but keep the heat on! While energy costs are rising, the cost of a water damage claim or electrical fire will likely far exceed anticipated additional energy costs should you end up with a burst pipe because you lowered your heat too much.
- Consider installing programmable thermostats to permit more precise temperature adjustments and efficient energy consumption.
- If you have a backup generator, don’t forget to test it in compliance with the manufacturer’s instructions. Remember: backup generators must never be operated indoors, and should be installed at a safe distance from your property.
- Stay aware of seasonal fire exposures. Candles, fireplaces, and faulty equipment all pose risks.
When a Storm is on the Way
Nor’easters and other winter storms can pack a heavy punch. Before you find three feet of snow covering your yard, consider these tips:
- Inspect doors and windows for gaps in weather stripping, and keep an eye on other forms of insulation to reduce heat loss. If cold air is coming in, hot air is going out!
- During extreme cold, winter storms, and heavy or prolonged snow events, keep an eye on your roofs, gutters, and down spouts to reduce the risk of ice dams. Safely remove snow using approved methods, tools, and materials, such as a roof rake or hiring an insured professional roofer.
- Watch for loose tree limbs, too. Falling branches can damage your roof, setting you up for potential heat leaks and high repair costs.
How to Prepare Your Business for Winter
Just like your home, your business may need some extra preventative maintenance during the winter months. Consider these tips:
- Know the locations of your water mains and supply lines. Mark them so they can be easily shut down in the event of an emergency, such as a burst pipe or structural damage.
- Create a schedule for inspecting and maintaining your heating and electrical equipment to ensure it is in good operating condition. Licensed, insured plumbers and electricians can help you do this effectively.
- Monitor snow loads to prevent potential roof collapse, especially for flat or low-pitched roofs. If you start to see accumulating or drifting snow piling up, professional roofers can help you keep your roof clean. First and foremost, though, stay safe! Always be mindful of wind and weather conditions before asking anyone to work on your roof. Address the exposure when conditions allow.
- Ensure all exits are free and clear of snow and ice during and after snow events, maintaining adequate means of egress at all times.
- Utilize only fully insured and reliable contractors for all snow removal, salting, and sanding of parking areas and walkways.
- If you choose to self-perform snow removal, parking areas, or walkway maintenance, make sure your staff is properly trained and capable of operating necessary equipment, such as snow blowers. Document conditions before, during, and after events with checklists and digital imagery.
If you have any questions, our staff is always here to help. Give us a call or text us at 781-289-7445. Conversely, if you feel endangered by the extreme cold or frostbite, call 911.