Many regions throughout North America have enjoyed a warmer than average winter so far, but there’s no telling if the recent trend will hold. Until spring begins in earnest, it’s important to be prepared for the worst winter weather Mother Nature can dish out.

When it comes to winter storm preparedness, your primary concern should be your health and safety. But there are also some concerns that apply specifically to your home plumbing system, and you should take proactive steps to avoid one of the biggest plumbing nightmares of them all: frozen pipes. If this happens, your water will not only stop flowing -- your pipes may burst and leave you in need of major repairs.

If sub-freezing temperatures and harsh conditions are on the way, be sure to insulate any pipes that extend outside the heated areas of your home. Hardware stores sell foam sheaths and heated plumbing tape designed specifically for this purpose. In other areas that receive some heat but aren’t completely climate controlled, like basements and attics, you can often get by with just a little newspaper wrapped around the pipes.

If you have an electric furnace, you should keep extra insulating materials on hand just in case you lose power to your home. During a prolonged power outage in cold enough temperatures, it’s possible that your interior plumbing pipes could also freeze -- though this is an extreme scenario.

Think Ahead

There’s a lot more to preparedness than just warming up your pipes, of course. While the severe weather is still at bay, take some time to consider these tips and make preparations now:

  • Make sure your vehicle is well maintained and full of fuel before severe storms roll in.
  • Keep your cell phone and all other mobile communication devices fully charged. If you don’t already have them, consider purchasing car chargers for these devices, as well.
  • Identify emergency shelters in your area and plan safe routes to these locations.
  • Prepare a family communications plan so that your family members can get in touch quickly if a storm strikes suddenly.
  • During the storm, monitor forecast information, road conditions and emergency instructions using a radio or smartphone.

Prepare Your Kit

Another important step is to put together an emergency kit in advance so you’re not left scrambling for essentials in the hours before a storm arrives. A good winter storm emergency kit will include the following:

  • Three days worth of non-perishable food and fresh water
  • Flashlight
  • Battery powered radio
  • Spare batteries
  • Sidewalk salt
  • Snow shovel
  • Winter hats, gloves, scarves and coats
  • Blankets
  • First aid kit
  • Prescription medications
  • Cash
  • Supplies for babies and pets, if necessary

With your emergency kit, your storm plan and a little proactive care for your home plumbing system, you can be prepared for the worst weather that winter can dish out. If you need help making any other cold-weather preparations for your residential plumbing, get in touch with an experienced plumber today.

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