Winter freeze hits Houston

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One of the reasons that I live in Houston is that our version of Winter is milder than in the northern states, where most of my family lives. We are expecting temperatures in the low 20s over the next few days, so I thought it would make sense to share some safety tips (for those of us who rarely had to deal with this).

From the City of Houston Office of Emergency ManagementPlease remember to protect the 4 P’s:

People

  • During periods of severe cold, it is important to take precautions to prevent hypothermia, which includes uncontrollable shivering, memory loss, disorientation, incoherence, slurred speech, drowsiness and exhaustion.  If you suspect someone is suffering from hypothermia, get them to a warm location, remove wet clothing and warm them with warm, non-alcoholic beverages.  Get medical help as soon as possible, and call 911 if a persons body temperature falls below 95°.
  • Avoid doing activities, such as exercising and yard work when there is extreme cold.
  • Take precautions with space heaters to ensure they are away from flammable materials, and properly vented.
  • Ovens and stoves should never be used to heat your home, they pose a large risk of carbon monoxide poisoning.
  • When driving, remember that water on roads can quickly become ice in freezing conditions, especially on overpasses and bridges.

Pets

  • Bring pets inside during cold weather, and if your animal is short-haired, consider getting them a coat or sweater during winter.
  • Never leave your animal in a car during winter. They can act as refrigerators and can easily result in hypothermia.

Pipes

  • Properly insulate pipes during freezing conditions. Do this by wrapping newspaper or clothes around outside faucets or in cold areas of a home.
  • Let sensitive faucets run at a slow drip to allow for water to move, which keeps them from freezing.
  • Open cabinet doors under sinks to allow heat to enter those areas, which helps prevent freezing.
  • If you suspect a pipe has frozen, call a plumber and immediately turn off the water to your home. If ice begins to melt on an active pipe, the shifting ice may cause flooding.

Plants

  • Plants should be covered on cold nights with fabric to keep them insulated during a freeze.
  • Keep your plants hydrated to prevent them from drying out due to cold winds.
  • If you have an automatic sprinkler system, ensure that is has a rain and freeze sensor installed.  If not, ensure that it is turned off until temperatures warm again.  Watering during a freeze can cause sheets of ice to form on your property and/or on the street, which is dangerous not only to plants, but to people as well.

Be safe!

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