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Brrrrrr: Watch For Freezing Pipes, Icy Roads

Temperatures could drop into the single digits tonight – here are some tips.

Baby, it’s cold outside, and it’s going to get colder.

Today's high is expected to be 17 degrees, according to the National Weather Service. A northwest wind of 14 to 17 mph, with gusts as high as 28 mph will mean a wind chill value as low as -3. If you thought last night was cold, wait til tonight with a low of 4 degrees and a wind chill value of -3 with a west wind between 11 and 13 mph. 

Thursday will be sunny with a high near 20, and a wind chill value as low as -4, and gusty winds up to 28 mph. Thursday night will be mostly clear with a low of 5 and a gusty northwest wind as high as 29 mph.

Friday will finally have a warm up, but there's also a 50 percent chance of snow.

The cold weather can lead to icy conditions, as road salt doesn’t work as well in temperatures below 20 degrees.

You might want to try calcium chloride on your walkways, which works at lower temperatures. 

The priority is, of course, staying warm. If you do not have enough money to pay for heat, there is help. The Salvation Army is running the state's heating assistance program, but there is paperwork required.

Frozen pipes can be a huge problem, especially for those of us in older houses. If you have pipes that are near exposed areas, follow the tips below.

As water freezes it expands, putting pressure on its container, including metal or plastic pipes. No matter the "strength" of a container, expanding water can cause pipes to break. Pipes that freeze most frequently are those that are exposed to severe cold, like outdoor hose bibs, swimming pool supply lines, water sprinkler lines, and water supply pipes in unheated interior areas like basements and crawl spaces, attics, garages, or kitchen cabinets. Pipes that run against exterior walls that have little or no insulation are also subject to freezing.

The Red Cross offers several tips to keep those pipes from freezing:

Prevention:

  • 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. Be sure to move any harmful cleaners and household chemicals up out of the reach of children.
  • 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.
  • Remedies:

    • 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 begin to flow through the frozen area. Running water through the pipe will help melt ice in the pipe.
    • Apply heat to the section of pipe using an electric heating pad wrapped around the pipe, 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 other open flame device.
    • Apply heat until full water pressure is restored. If you are unable to locate the frozen area, if the frozen area is not accessible, or if you can not 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.

    Make sure the kids stay warm, too. Thin layers work better than single layers of thick clothing. The American Academy of Pediatrics offers these tips for keeping the kids warm.

    • Dress infants and children warmly for outdoor activities.  Several thin layers will keep them dry and warm. Don’t forget warm boots, gloves or mittens, and a hat.
    • The rule of thumb for older babies and young children is to dress them in one more layer of clothing than an adult would wear in the same conditions.
    • Blankets, quilts, pillows, bumpers, sheepskins and other loose bedding may contribute to Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS) and should be kept out of an infant’s sleeping environment.  Sleep clothing like one-piece sleepers or wearable blankets is preferred.
    • If a blanket must be used to keep a sleeping infant warm, it should be tucked in around the crib mattress, reaching only as far as your baby’s chest, so the infant's face is less likely to become covered by bedding materials.

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