We’ve been lucky so far to have relatively mild temps. That’s about to change
Dangerous cold is expected on Friday and into Saturday in Tewksbury. Here are seven ways to get ready.
If you need to be outside, dress in layers and stay dry: Layers trap warm air and protect against the cold better than bulky items. And because water conducts heat away from the body 25 times faster than air, staying dry is crucial. Cover your mouth with a scarf to protect your lungs.
If driving, bring emergency supplies: Carry a winter survival kit with essentials such as food, water and blankets in case you get stuck. Keep your gas tank more than halfway full. And be alert for wild animals — a warm vehicle engine can be an attractive heat source. Banging the hood or honking before starting the car can alert them to move along.
Limit outdoor time for pets: Most dogs and cats are susceptible to frostbite and hypothermia if left outside in cold weather for a long period of time. After a walk, check paws for salt that could be irritating. Try protective paw balm or booties if the pup agrees.
Protect your pipes: With no snow cover on the ground, the potential for water pipe freeze-ups increases, say our friends at the Wilmington DPW, who offered some preventative steps you can take:
- Make sure that the space in which your water meter and riser are located is shielded from the elements.
- Make sure there are no cracks or drafts in the foundation or walls that they are near, especially if in a crawl space. Heat tape and insulation can help protect your riser and meter.
- Keep your thermostat on at all times, even if you’re away. It does not take long for pipes to freeze, especially when they are on an outside wall of a room that is not heated.
- Turn off outdoor water faucets and bring hoses indoors.
- If you have a sprinkler system, be sure it is properly winterized.
- If your plumbing is vulnerable to freeze-ups and we are in a deep freeze, trickle a water faucet that the pipes feed. The running water will help keep the pipe from freezing. A few extra dollars for running water is far cheaper than plumbing repair costs and/or water damage to your home.
- If your pipes do freeze, open all faucets all the way, remove any insulation and heat the frozen pipe with a hair dryer or wrap with towels soaked in hot water. Never use an open flame to thaw pipes.
Keep space heaters safe: Choose heaters with automatic shut-off features, and keep them away from flammable items. And check the batteries in your CO2 sensor! Make sure emergency generators or secondary heating systems are well ventilated. If you use space heaters, a fireplace or a woodstove to heat your home, keep a fire extinguisher handy.
From a local heating company on assessing your heating system: “Friday, we all will experience temperatures and wind chills that our homes’ heating systems are NOT designed for. Newer homes will struggle to maintain temperature, and older homes will NOT maintain temperature. The temperature WILL drop while the heating system is working at full capacity.
1. Please raise the temperature in your home 2 to 4 degrees above your normal setting.
2. Take all programmable thermostats out of setback mode and set on a permanent HOLD.
3. If you have a furnace; replace the filter.
4. Keep garage doors closed.
5. Limit opening exterior doors.
6. Make sure air vents and radiators are not blocked or obstructed.
7. If you have a 90%+ furnace and boiler, you must keep the intake and exhaust clear of ice and snow. During these cold temperatures, ice can build up. A 90%+ furnace and boiler have 2 white PVC pipes; an exhaust pipe, and an intake pipe that are generally on the side or back of your home.
8. Refrain from using pellet stoves or supplemental heat forms if you have a water-based heating system. The pipes WILL freeze.
If the temperature in your home is dropping and your radiators are HOT with boiler systems or you have HOT air coming out of your vents with furnaces, DO NOT PANIC. Please make sure that your heating system continues to operate.
If the temperatures drop in your home, it will not be able to recover until temperatures rise and the windchill diminishes. Our heating systems can not overcome temperatures -20 to -30. They are sized to operate at 0 degrees outdoor. Put your thermostat on hold at 70 degrees or higher.
To help minimize temperature loss, you can boil water, make soup or stews, or bake something – it helps introduce humidity and warmer temperatures into your home. Please check on neighbors and elderly residents during these extreme temperatures. Stay warm and safe this week.”
Finally, know where to go if you lose heat: In Massachusetts you can call 2-1-1 to find warming centers or shelters near you.