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Tips for preparing your home, pets and plants for freezing temperatures

HOUSTON – Mother nature is bringing an arctic blast to Houston early next week. Whether you’re hiring a professional or doing it yourself, experts said it’s time to prepare your home.

“It’s just being proactive and doing it,” said John Eccles, the Operations Manager at Nick’s Plumbing and HVAC.

During Houston’s last freeze in 2017, their call volume increased by 1200%

“We were normally answering about 100 calls a day at that point. We were answering about 700 calls a day,” he said.

Eccles said to start by letting cold water drip from your faucet.

“Moving water is hard to freeze,” he said.

Eccles said it’s also important to open your kitchen and bathroom cabinets.

“That way what can get in here and assist in keeping everything unfrozen and thawed,” he said.

Wrapping or covering your main water rise pipe is a must.

“When this is exposed to the elements, the wind, the chill it will freeze and when water freezes it’s going to burst,” Eccles said.

All you need is a piece of insulation or a towel to wrap around the pipes.

“It’s like $4 a strand at Lowes or Home Depot. Get it and you’re going to wrap around and it’s going to stick on the other side,” Eccles said.

It’s also important to shut off the water to your sprinkler’s backflow.

“Water damage is the number one insurance claim in America,” Eccles said.

The metal parts are most vulnerable to freezing temperatures.

“It’s one of our number one problems,” he said.

Alex Zharov is a licensed HVAC professional for Nick’s Plumbing and HVAC. He said it’s important to check your heating system.

“It’s going to help you with efficiency and help with the performance on your bills,” he said.

Homeless population

The city of Houston is also preparing for freezing temperatures. The Office of Emergency Management is working with several nonprofits and the Red Cross to figure out how to shelter homeless people.

“Our current threshold is if we are at 32 degrees for more than two consecutive days or if at 25 degrees or lower for more than two hours that 25 degrees it’s pretty cold so after two hours we need to have a warming shelter available,” said Nickea Bradley, the Deputy Director for the city of Houston.

The Office of Emergency Management said they are still determining where the homeless shelters will be and said COVID-19 guidelines will be in place.

Safety Tips

The Harris County Fire Marshal’s Office encourages residents to follow these heating safety tips:

  • Place space heaters on solid and flat surfaces. Also, make sure your space heater has an automatic shut off in case it tips over.
  • Check space heaters for cracked or damaged cords and plugs.
  • Plug space heaters directly into wall outlets, don’t use an extension cord or power strip.
  • Keep anything that can burn at least three feet away from heating equipment, like the furnace, fireplace, wood stove, or portable space heater.
  • Create a “kid-free zone” three feet from open fires and space heaters.
  • Never use your oven to heat your home.
  • Remember to turn portable heaters off when leaving the room or going to bed.
  • Test your smoke alarms monthly.

Pets

The Houston Humane Society wants to help residents needing assistance in caring for their pets. No pet should suffer outdoors from the cold weather, so the organization is offering free pet crates as a safe option for pet owners to keep their pets inside.

Those who wish to receive a pet crate must visit to apply.

To qualify, pet owners must provide proof of Government assistance and the pet must be spayed or neutered.

Selected applicants will be contacted regarding pick up time. Pet crates will need to be picked up at the Houston Humane Society – 14700 Almeda rd. Houston, TX 77053. While supplies last, one per household.

For more pet safety tips you can visit.

Plants

Experts said when temperatures are below 32, flowers and plants will die.

Watering your plants before it gets cold will also help.

You can also bring them inside or cover them up.