Prepare your home for the cold ahead

MISSION – With several days of predicted below-freezing weather upon us, area Fire Departments are reminding everyone that a little bit of prep now can help prevent disasters during and after the freezing temperatures, especially due to frozen pipes. This is for everyone from homeowners, tenants, maintenance managers to contractors alike.

Winterizing your home should be done in the fall as the first freeze comes around. Now that we’re into the middle of winter and prepping for a winter storm, ensure those preparations are done and takes these extra precautions around your home. All of these are much easier when the snow is fresh and not frozen solid like it will be later this weekend. 

  • Ensure outdoor faucets and water outlets still have their covers on them.
  • Ensure you unbury your water meter box at the street, your natural gas or propane shut offs, and make access to any other utilities around your home. 
  • Clear any snow off a fire hydrant in front of your house. 

Clear off your sidewalks, driveways, pathways, accesses to utilities, access to pets/farm animals, and vehicles. This is very important for access in the event of an emergency. If the snow accumulates too much, doors may not open, those with disabilities may not be able to traverse the snow and will slow down emergency services from getting to you in a time of need. As a public service reminder, if you know your neighbor, friend or family member can’t clear their walkway or driveway, please help them out. 

For your businesses, building owners, facility managers, and building maintenance personnel should take actions before the cold weather hits to prevent fire sprinkler systems from freezing. These breaks can cause significant water damage but can easily be prevented. Also, frozen fire sprinkler pipes, even if they don’t break, render the sprinkler system inoperative to protect buildings from fire, thus jeopardizing lives and property.   

Most fire sprinkler systems that do freeze are the result of lack of maintenance. Ensure that all periodic maintenance has been completed. Contact your fire sprinkler service company to schedule service if it is overdue. Frequencies for maintenance vary depending on the type of system that is installed. Empty any drains for the sprinkler system to prevent water from building up on the exterior or exposed areas of these systems. 

Another common cause of water line and sprinkler system freezing is inadequate heating in normally heated spaces. This often occurs in vacant areas when the heating system is turned down or off when no one is home or the space is vacant. While some sprinkler systems are designed to operate in cold temperatures, the majority of fire sprinkler pipe must be installed in areas that can maintain a minimum temperature of 40 degrees Fahrenheit. Make sure your heating and ventilation systems are in good working order. For homes, consider opening the cupboards below sinks at night to allow warm air to get into the cabinet to prevent freezing. 

These simple steps can prevent the costly damage from water line breaks, not to mention time lost to restore your building/home back to full operation. Check your fire sprinkler system today. Call your service company to schedule maintenance. Check your heating and ventilation system. Use safe heating practices.  

When using supplemental heating equipment, utilize only equipment that is listed and approved for its intended use. Many gas-powered heaters are not designed for indoor use. Always provide at least three feet of clearance when using portable space heaters. Ensure all electrical heating appliances are plugged in safely into an outlet or approved surge protector. 

Ensure all your smoke and carbon dioxide alarms are in working order. As the weather gets colder, we tend to shut the house up much more tightly. This can lead to a quicker buildup of smoke and carbon dioxide inside a home. The quicker build up can lead to less time to escape, making those alarms even more important. 

Information courtesy Bend Fire & Rescu