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How to prepare for and stay safe during freezing temperatures

Frozen Pipe
Posted at 7:21 PM, Jan 27, 2022
and last updated 2022-01-27 19:21:22-05

TAMPA, Fla. — As us warm-blooded folks prepare for bone-chilling temps over the next few days, there are a few things you may want to do to keep warm and safe.

Energy companies say if you smell something burning when you turn on your heater for the first time not to worry because it's likely just burnt dust.

If you're using a space heater at home because of the cold weather, here are some safety tips from the Pinellas Park Fire Department.

  • Never plug them into an extension cord or power strip.
  • Plug them directly into an outlet.
  • Make sure you place the heater on a flat surface.
  • Make sure it's at least three feet away from anything that could overheat and spark a fire.
  • Always turn the heater off when you're leaving the room.

Plumbing experts say you also need to make sure your home stays above 55 degrees to help prevent your pipes from freezing.

"Frozen pipes are a real threat in the south where homes aren’t insulated for colder temperatures like they are up North," said Paul Abrams, spokesperson for Roto-Rooter.

Abrams said to help stop pipes from freezing you should:

  • Disconnect outside hoses to prevent cracking pipes.
  • Wrap outdoor water spouts in insulation or towels.
  • Run a small stream of water in faucets near exterior walls.

"If those fixtures are on interior walls they’re not vulnerable and you won’t need to worry about it," said Abrams.

If you have outdoor plants that you care about, you’re going to want to cover them if the temperature drops below 36 degrees.

"Plants generate no heat of their own so all we can do is build a little tent around the plant and use the heat from the ground," said Bernie Bathauer, Master Gardener volunteer.

Bathauer said to protect plants from freezing you should:

  • Cover the plant from the ground using plant tents or cloth, boxes, or even upside-down trash bins.
  • DO NOT wrap it like a lollipop because that doesn’t work.
  • If it's a potted plant, he said to bring it indoors.

"The pot itself gets cold, damages the root structure, and the pot doesn’t regrow so if you have potted plants make sure they’re protected," said Bathauer.

Some other things experts say to do in cold temperatures are:

  • Bring pets indoors.
  • Keep pool pumps running to prevent freezing.
  • Check tire pressure - air pressure in tires typically goes down 1-2 pounds for every 10 degrees of temperature change.

"It's always good to take precautions ahead of time. It’ll save homeowners from a lot of headaches and a lot of money," said Abrams.