Preparing for Arctic Air in South Louisiana
South Louisiana is no stranger to Hurricane Preparedness, but they only occasionally need to prepare for ice and freezing temperatures for an extended period. We all need to prepare to protect People, Pets, Pipes, and Plants for the Artic Blast we are expecting on Monday.
Family comes first, so here are a few tips about keeping your family safe during the impending winter event:
- Stay indoors and limit your time out in the elements.
- Stay off the roads if there are reports of ice or snow as the bridges and overpasses will freeze.
- Prepare for power outages. If you do lose power, dress in layers to keep warm. If you plan on using a generator, be sure to follow all safety guidelines and never run a generator indoors.
- If you retain power and plan to use space heaters, place them on solid or flat surfaces and make sure your heater has an automatic shut off in case it tips over. Always plug the heaters directly into wall outlets and not into a power strip using an extension cord. Keep anything that can burn at least 3 feet away from any heating equipment, including a fireplace or wood stove. Be sure to test your smoke detector equipment to make sure it’s working properly.
- Never use an oven or stove to heat your home.
- Be sure to check on family and neighbors to make sure they are also safe.
- Since pets are an extension of our family, be sure to bring all pets indoors.
Our homes need to be prepared as well. Since we rarely see this kind of weather, builders down here often will place water pipes in vulnerable locations. Homes built on concrete slabs are very common here, so it's quite typical to have water pipes running through the attic space, which is a vulnerable location. Homeowners need to be aware that pipes in attics, crawl spaces, and outside walls are vulnerable to freezing and then bursting.
Based on weather forecasts, Monday is expected to be our most troublesome day, with temperatures struggling to reach above the freezing mark of 32 degrees all day. What is even more concerning is that Monday night, we are forecasted to break the 22-degree record low set back in 1895! That is critical because the temperature threshold for pipes to freeze is 20 degrees Fahrenheit.
A well-insulated attic should remain a few degrees warmer than the outside temperature, but with some forecasts calling for a 17-degree low, we will risk hitting that freezing pipe threshold. Here are a few tips to prepare your pipes:
- Keep garage doors closed, protecting any water lines that may run through that space.
- Open kitchen and bathroom cabinets to allow warmer air to circulate around the plumbing, especially those sinks located along exterior walls. If you have small children, make sure to secure all harmful cleaners and household chemicals usually kept in those cabinets.
- Circulate water in your home by letting cold water drip from a faucet, especially one located along an exterior wall.
- Your thermostat needs to remain above at least 55 degrees Fahrenheit. A cold snap like this one is not the time to save money on your heating bill.
- Drain and disconnect all garden hoses. Protect the outside faucet with insulating foam covers. If foam covers are not available, you can use newspaper, rags, or other insulating material and secure it with string, wire, or tape.
- Consider using products like a “pipe sleeve,” “heat tape,” or “heat cable” on exposed water pipes.
- Drain water from outdoor water features and water sprinkler supply lines.
- Make sure to locate your main water shutoff valve in case you do have a pipe that bursts.
Image provided by ICT - Insurance Council of Texas
Lastly, if there are any outdoor plants that don’t fare well under freezing temperatures, there are a few precautions you can take:
- Bring your potted plants inside.
- Water your plants before a freeze, but don’t saturate them. Soil with adequate moisture absorbs solar energy better and holds the heat through the night.
- You can cover your most delicate plants with old bedsheets, plastic sheets, towels, or blankets.
Following these few tips will go a long way to keeping your family and home safe while also avoiding costly repairs.
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