During the winter months, it’s not unusual for temperatures to drop below freezing. A temperature of 32 degrees or less in the desert can damage vegetation and freeze pipes causing them to burst. Cold temperatures also can result in frostbite and hypothermia. Officials advise residents to monitor local weather forecasts for information about changing conditions.
The following tips also are recommended for dealing with winter weather in our region:
Heat Your Home Safely
- Operate space heaters according to manufacturer’s guidelines. Do not use extension cords with space heaters and unplug space haters when not in use.
- Do not use gas appliances such as ranges or ovens or clothes dryers to heat your home.
- Maintain heating equipment and chimneys by having them cleaned and inspected each year.
- Fireplaces should have open dampers to allow smoke and gasses to escape safely. Ashes should be discarded into water pails and soaked several hours before discarding.
- Never use a portable generator, grill, camp stove or other gasoline, propane or natural gas or charcoal-burning devices inside your home.
Always locate these units in outside areas away from doors, windows, and vents that could allow carbon monoxide to come indoors.
- Install a carbon monoxide (CO) alarm in your home that meets safety standards. Battery-operated CO alarms or plug-in CO alarms with battery backup are available.
- Never use candles as a heating or light source. Have flashlights ready for use during a power outage.
Dress Warm to Avoid Frostbite
- When outside in cold temperatures, dress to stay dry and warm. Wear warm, loose-fitting, lightweight clothing in layers. Clothing made of wool or synthetic fibers such as polypropylene offers more insulation than cotton. Outer garments should be tightly-woven, water repellent and have a hood.
- Seek medical attention if you see signs of frostbite or hypothermia.
- Symptoms of frostbite include the loss of feeling and white or pale extremities. Signs of hypothermia include uncontrollable shivering, slurred speech, drowsiness and exhaustion.
Winterize Your Home
- Insulate walls and attic, caulk and weather-strip doors and windows.
- Protect exposed pipes by wrapping them in insulation or layers of newspaper and then covering them with plastic to keep out moisture.
- Turn off your outdoor sprinkler system. Wrap or cover hose bibs and exposed elements of your sprinkler system such as irrigation boxes and valves. Visit the hardware store to buy appropriate insulation materials.
- If freezing or near-freezing temperatures are forecasted, run the water circulation system in your pool to prevent pipes from freezing. Cover exposed pool pipes.
- Maintain fences, locks and other drowning-prevention barriers around pools to protect children and pets.
- Follow manufacturer’s guidelines for maintaining pools when not in use during the winter months.
Winter Driving & Car Tips
- If going to or leaving a remote area, drive with a full tank of gas and a cell phone. Also carry blankets, water, and sustainable food.
- Use extreme caution while driving in winter storms. Most winter storm deaths result from vehicle or other transportation accidents caused by ice and snow. Drive slowly and allow for greater braking distances. Accelerate and brake gradually.
- Take time to clean off snow and ice from vehicle windows to increase visibility. Keep a shovel, a windshield scraper and/or a small broom in your vehicle.
- If you are stuck in a vehicle in snow or cold weather, stay in your vehicle and wait for help. Run the engine occasionally to keep warm, about 10 minutes each hour. Beware of carbon monoxide build up inside the car.
Pets & Cold Weather
- If temperatures are below 50 degrees, dogs and cats kept outdoors should have additional clean bedding to keep them warm.
- Keep an eye on water bowls to make sure drinking water does not freeze.
- Bathe your pets as little as possible during cold spells. Washing too often can remove essential oils and increase the chance of developing dry, flaky skin.
- Don’t shave your dog down to the skin in winter.
- In general, if it’s too cold for you, it’s probably too cold for household pets to be kept outdoors for long periods of time, especially if they are used to being indoors.
- Keep fire extinguishers handy
- Design a fire escape plan
- Learn first aid for burns
- Keep matches away from children
- Practice home fire drills
- Check smoke detectors regularly
- NEVER smoke in bed
- Know two exits from every room
- Teach STOP, DROP and ROLL
- Post emergency numbers by every phone
- Store flammable liquids properly
- Set your water heater to 120 degrees F
- Crawl low in smoke
- Replace damaged electrical cords
- Determine at least two ways to escape from every room in your home.
- If you must use an escape ladder, be sure everyone knows how to use it.
- Select a location outside your home where everyone would meet after escaping.
- Practice your escape plan at least twice a year.
- Once you are out, stay out!
- If you see smoke in your first escape route, use your second way out. If you must exit through smoke, crawl low under the smoke to escape.
- Feel closed doors before opening them. Hot doors may mean fire on the other side. Use a second way out if the door is hot.