Winter weather tips
Keep yourself and your home warm!
As the cold weather doesnt look like it's leaving us any time soon, we all need to make sure that we take some simple precautions to keep warm and safe.
We have come up with some simple tips for you to follow which are designed to keep you safe and warm.
In your home
- Draw your curtains at dusk and keep your doors closed to block out draughts.
- Have regular hot drinks and at least one hot meal a day if possible. Eating regularly helps keep energy levels up during winter.
- Wear several light layers of warm clothes (rather than one chunky layer).
- Keep as active in your home as possible.
- Wrap up warm and wear shoes with a good grip if you need to go outside on cold days.
- Keep your main living room at around 18-21°C (65-70°F), and the rest of the house at least 16°C (61°F). If you can’t heat all the rooms you use, heat the living room during the day and the bedroom just before you go to sleep.
- The Met Office has get ready for winter advice and some suggestions for practical things that you can do to prepare for winter weather, including cold, ice & snow, high winds and flooding. The advice also tells you ways of saving money.
During cold snaps some pipes might burst. Pipes might leak for a number of hours or days before you notice. As the water freezes it expands which can fracture the pipe/s, then as it thaws results in a leak/burst. You can minimise the risk by ensuring your property is adequately heated as above. If you’re away from your home for a period of time, turn off your water supply at the main stop tap and run all your taps until all the water contained within the system is removed then turn the taps off. When you return turn your stop tap back on.
When paths/walkways become frozen you can either buy grit yourself or use table salt to melt the ice. Be careful you don’t slip on the ice as a large number of accidents caused in winter are due to people slipping on ice. DO NOT pour hot water over the affected area as this will cause it to freeze again, even quicker.
Travel in Icy Weather
Icy pavements and roads can be very slippery. Take extra care if you go out and wear boots or shoes with good grip on the soles. The Met Office advises putting grit or cat litter on paths and driveways to lessen the risk of slipping. It adds that you should wait until the roads have been gritted if you're travelling by car. The Highways Agency offers useful advice for road users on travelling in snow and freezing conditions.
Bear in mind that black ice on pavements or roads might not be clearly visible, and that compacted snow may turn to ice and become slippery.
Annual Gas Safety
Don’t forget to arrange your gas service appointment if it’s due as this will ensure your gas boiler and gas fire are working correctly ready for winter. It will also mean your boiler will work efficiently and that you are complying with the terms of your tenancy. Call 0500 96 96 94 to make an appointment.
What to do if your pipes freeze or burst
Frozen Pipes/Waste Pipes
Insulate any exterior pipes in unheated areas, so that they do not freeze during extremely cold weather. A broken pipe can quickly cause a lot of damage to your home. If a pipe does freeze, warm it with a hair dryer, working along its length from the frozen tap or valve until the water starts to flow again. Alternatively, drape a hot water bottle over the pipe or soak hand towels in hot water, wring them out and wrap them around it. Don’t use a blowtorch.
- The first thing you must do if your pipes burst or freeze is to turn off the water at the mains, so it’s important to find out where your mains are in case of an emergency. Stop taps are usually located under the kitchen sink or in the garage.
- Contact KHT and advise you need a plumber to deal with burst pipe repairs.
- If the pipe has not burst, protect any electrics around the pipe in case it does.
- If the pipe is next to a gas supply, call KHT immediately and don’t try and thaw it out yourself.
- You can attempt to thaw the pipes yourself by working from the tap towards the frozen part of the pipe. Apply heat to the pipe using a hairdryer, hot wattle bottle, lamp or towels wrapped round the pipe and drenched in hot water.
- Try not to heat the water too quickly and never let the water in pipes boil – this will cause steam pressure which could burst the pipe.
- Open the tap to which the frozen pipe supplies water so that when it starts to thaw it can flow out easily.
- Collect water from the leak - if it's through the ceiling, collect it in a bucket. If the ceiling bulges, pierce the plaster with a broom handle to let water through.
- Switch off your central heating.
- Turn off the stop tap and turn on the taps to drain your water system.
- Don't touch any wiring or switches that you think may have been affected. If in doubt, turn off your electricity at the mains.
- After the leak has been fixed, air the affected areas by keeping doors and windows open; do not overheat affected rooms as this could cause more damage.
After a Flood
- Leave windows, doors and built-in cupboards open during the day, if possible
- Keep affected rooms
- In freezing conditions, leave your heating on low, even if you're away - and have a friend or neighbour check your home regularly.
- If you're away for a long time over the winter, turn the stop tap off and drain the whole system.
- Repair any leaking taps.
If you have no water
- Firstly check whetherneighboursare affected.
- If they also have no water, check to see if your utility provider is aware of the problem by checking United Utilities web page or contacting them direct.
If yourneighbours have water but you don't, your pipes are probably frozen, so:
- Locate your main stop tap (usually under the sink or closest to where your water supply enters your property).
- Check your stop tap to see if it's working. If it is, turn it off tominimiseany potential problems when your pipes thaw.
- If there's a stopcock on the system side of the header tank, turn this off to stop water leaving the tank.
If you are confident in DIY, please follow the next steps to thaw your pipes:
- Before you start to thaw the system, do what you can to protect or remove anything which might be damaged by the thawing water running from a potential burst.
- Check all visible pipes for damage or evidence of freezing.
- Turn the COLD taps on nearest to the frozen part of the pipe so water can escape when pipes are thawed - but don't turn HOT taps on until the central heating or immersion heater is switched off.
- Apply a hot water bottle to affected pipes or use a hairdryer in short bursts, but take care, the pipe may burst as it thaws and spray water. NEVER use a naked flame. Do not use a blow lamp or heat gun. Keep heat away from water meters.
- Once pipes are thawed, allow water to flow until normal flow is restored - then insulate pipes.
- Turn off your tap and insulate your pipe work to prevent further freezing or provide additional heating in the affected area.
- Leave the heating on low in cold weather, this helps to heat pipes. It is especially important to do this if you are going away or leaving your home unattended for a period of time, the last thing you want is to come home to a flooded house.
- Leave your loft door or hatch open on really cold days to give heated air a chance to circulate in the loft, warming pipes or tanks.
- If you are trying to clear ice from areas near the garden, be careful when using salt as when the ice melts the salty water can damage your plants.
- It’s worth considering having two tins ofde-iceravailable – keep one in the car for your travels, and one in the house in case the car doors are frozen.
Make an emergency kit
Keep your emergency kit somewhere safe and easily accessible, and make sure everyone knows where it is. Remember to pack:
- torch and extra batteries
- list of useful numbers, such as your local council, utility providers, your insurance company and local emergency services
- note of personal information such as your bank details, insurance policies and national insurance number
- essential items for your children, such as nappies, baby food, clean clothes and toys
How cold weather affects your health
Check up on friends, relatives andneighbourswho may be more vulnerable to cold weather. Cold weather is especially dangerous for older people or people with serious illnesses, so check up on them if you can. Read how to spot and treat hypothermia.
People with heart or respiratory (breathing) problems may have worse symptoms during a cold spell and for several days after temperatures return to normal.