How to Prepare Your Home for a Rapid Temperature Drop

Protecting the pipes is essential
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Dec 22, 2022 11:05 AM CST
How to Get Your Home Ready for Freezing Temperatures
Norman Chusid, the owner of Ankeny Hardware/Nor-Mon Distributing in Portland, Ore., loads up bags of rock salt for delivery.   (AP Photo/Gillian Flaccus)

Temperatures across the US are dropping hard and fast as a massive cold front rolls across the nation, and authorities are urging people to be ready for conditions like those seen in Cheyenne, Wyoming, where the temperature dropped a record 40 degrees in just 30 minutes on Wednesday afternoon. Over two hours, the temperature dropped 51 degrees, from 42 to -9, and continued falling to -26 Thursday morning. With similarly rapid drops on the way for millions of people in states to the east, outlets including the Washington Post and the New York Times are sharing tips to prepare homes for freezing temperatures:

  • Be ready to lose power. The Post suggests stocking up on flashlights and batteries and making sure devices are charged ahead of potential power outages, especially in southern states where unusually cold temperatures could lead to the power grid being overwhelmed. Those with portable generators should stock up on gasoline or propane—and ensure that it is only used outdoors, at least 20 feet away from the home. Fire and carbon monoxide detectors are essential.

  • Protect your pipes. The Protect Your Pipes initiative says people should set home thermostats above 55 degrees to prevent pipes from freezing, and pipes in areas like cold basements should be wrapped in insulation, per the Times. The initiative says cold water should be left trickling from the farthest faucet from the main valve, as moving water keeps pipes from freezing, and cupboards and vanities with pipes in them should be kept open. If pipes do freeze, PYP says water should be shut off at the main valve and heat should be applied to pipes with a hair dryer, not a device with open flame. And if you don't know where the main water valve is, it's time to find it.
  • Step up your winterproofing. The Red Cross strongly recommends properly winterproofing your home, which saves money as well as keeping things warm, the News & Observer reports. Suggested steps include adding insulation, especially in areas like crawl spaces and attics. Doors and windows should be weatherstripped or caulked to keep warm air in and cold air out, the Red Cross says.
  • Salting driveways. The Post recommends putting salt on driveways and sidewalks before snowfall, to prevent them from getting slick and break up layers of ice that may have already formed.
(Authorities are warning that a "bomb cyclone" could form on Thursday.)

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