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Today is January 22, 2021

Prepare for winter weather now

By Susan Collins-Smith

Prepare for winter weather now
By Susan Collins-Smith

While Mississippi doesn’t experience blizzards, the Deep South does experience freezing temperatures and the occasional winter weather event.

Jason Barrett, an assistant Extension professor with the Mississippi State University Extension Service in the Mississippi Water Resources Research Institute, said preparing your home for cold weather can save money in the long run.

“Frozen and burst pipes are one of the most common winter issues that can cause extensive damage to a house,” he said. “But it’s easy and inexpensive to help keep your pipes from freezing.”

 

Barrett recommends homeowners take the following steps to help winterize their houses:

• Disconnect and drain garden hoses and store them indoors or in a covered location.

• Place insulated faucet covers on outdoor faucets. In a pinch, wrap an old towel or thick sock around the faucet for insulation, but replace these items with dry ones if they get wet.

• Check water lines for leaks and sags.

• Insulate exposed pipes in the garage, attic or crawl spaces.

 

Recommended items for a home emergency kit include:

• Flashlights and lanterns with extra batteries

• Hand-cranked, solar-powered or battery-powered radio and/or weather radio and extra batteries

• Toiletries

• Medications

• First aid kit

• Cash and credit cards

• Pet care items

• Seasonal clothing, rain gear and sturdy shoes

• Entertainment for adults and children, including toys, games and books

 

When temperatures do reach the freezing mark and stay there for several days, Barrett said dripping indoor water faucets can keep pipes from freezing. Open the cold water faucets so that water drips slowly and consistently. Let faucets drip when not in use until temperatures are consistently above freezing.

Opening cabinet doors in bathrooms and kitchens is an additional step that can help keep the under-counter pipes from freezing.

However, some practices might seem like a good idea but can lead to trouble. Barrett said homeowners should avoid turning thermostats down too low and shutting off certain areas of the home. “Be sure that all areas of the house stay above freezing,” he said. “The small amount you would save on the heating bill will be minimal in comparison to the potential cost of repairing damage from burst pipes.”

Anne Howard Hilbun-Benoit, an instructor in the Extension Center for government and community development, encourages people also to be prepared for inclement weather events.

“People tend to wait until we have a predicted storm to gather their supplies in the event of a power outage,” Hilbun- Benoit said. “But there are a number of things that can be done well in advance of predicted storms.”

Ensuring homes have an alternative source of heat is important during the winter. Alternatives could include a wood-burning stove, gas logs or a generator. Be sure to have fuel for them in advance.

A stockpile of water and nonperishable food items is important to have on hand year-round. Aim to keep enough food and water for your family for several days in case of an extended power outage. Don’t forget pets.

 

Susan Collins-Smith is a writer for the Mississippi State University Extension Service.

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