Extremely cold temperatures are expected this weekend with wind chills below zero. While you’re celebrating the season and bringing 2022 to a close, the City of Asheville shares these tips to help protect your people, pets and pipes in the cold weather.
Avoiding frostbite and hypothermia
In cold temperatures, your body begins to lose heat faster than it can be produced, which can lead to hypothermia. Follow these tips to avoid and treat hypothermia:
- Stay indoors. If you must go outside, dress properly and know who is at high risk for hypothermia or frostbite.This includes the elderly, very young children and those who must work outside. *(Although children, older people, and those with circulatory problems are at greater risk for frostbite, most cases happen in adults between 30 and 49.)
- Dress appropriately. If you must go outside make sure to wear the appropriate clothing and dress in layers.
- Cover body parts most often affected by frostbite with dry clothing. This includes nose, ears, toes, cheeks, chin, and fingers.
If a person is experiencing hypothermia or frostbite
- Seek medical attention as soon as possible.
- Get to a warm room or shelter.
- Remove any wet clothing.
- Get warm under dry layers of blankets and clothing.
- Place areas affected by frostbite in warm-to-touch water
For additional information regarding how to avoid and treat hypothermia please go to the Center for Disease Control website.
Houseless persons resources
The City of Asheville works in partnership with the Asheville Homeless Coalition to assist those experiencing shelter insecurity. Through the Code Purple system, the Coalition provides shelter and transit to our community’s most vulnerable. You can find resources to help houseless persons in severe weather conditions on the City of Asheville website.
Outside pets are among the most vulnerable during extremely cold weather. Please bring them inside and provide shelter. Here are some tips from the Humane Society to keep them safe.
- Keep pets sheltered. Keep your pets inside with you and your family. Under no circumstances should pet cats be left outdoors, even if they roam outside during other seasons. Dogs are happiest when taken out frequently for walks and exercise, but kept inside the rest of the time. Don’t leave pets outdoors when the temperature drops.
- Bundle up. No matter what the temperature is, wind chills can threaten a pet’s life. Exposed skin on noses, ears and paw pads are at risk for frostbite and hypothermia during extreme cold snaps.
- Remove common poisons. Antifreeze is a deadly poison, but it has a sweet taste that may attract animals. Dogs are at particular risk of salt poisoning in winter due to the rock salt used in many areas—often when licking it from their paws after a walk.
- Protect outdoor animals. There are outdoor cats, either owned pets or community cats in your area, remember that they need protection from the elements as well as food and water.
- Speak out. If you encounter a pet left in the cold, politely let the owner know you’re concerned. Some people genuinely don’t know the risk that cold weather poses to their pets or livestock and will be quick to correct any problems you address.
The Asheville Water Resources Department urges everyone to take precautions to protect their pipes from freezing.
Preventing frozen pipes
- Disconnect and drain all garden hoses and install covers on outside faucets.
- Keep garage doors closed.
- Open cabinet doors. Opening kitchen and bathroom cabinet doors to allow warmer air to circulate around the plumbing.
- Identify water valve locations. Learning the location of these valves may come in handy during an emergency.
- Insulate pipes. Wrap pipes nearest exterior walls and in crawl spaces with pipe insulation or heating tape. This will prevent freezing, especially for interior pipes that run along outside walls.
- Regulate indoor temperature day and night. Keep the thermostat set to the same temperature both during the day and at night. By temporarily suspending the use of lower nighttime temperatures, you may incur a higher heating bill, but you can prevent a much more costly repair job if pipes freeze and burst.
- Close windows and cover vents. Close all windows near water pipes; cover or close open-air vents. Freezing temperatures combined with drafts of cold air can cause pipes to freeze more frequently.
- Keep water moving. During really cold weather, open the cold water tap and let the water run at a trickle to keep the water in the pipes moving.
If a faucet or pipe inside your house freezes
- Start at the faucet. When thawing a pipe, start thawing it nearest to the faucet. Make sure the faucet is turned on so that melted water can drip out.
- Use the proper tools. Pipes can be thawed by using a good hair dryer or heat water on the stove, soak towels in the hot water and wrap them around cold sections of the pipes. (For safety purposes, avoid operating a hair dryer around standing water.) Never try to thaw frozen pipes with torches or other means using extreme heat or flame. If heated too quickly waterlines can explode and cause serious injury
- When to shut off water. If a Pipe Bursts shut off water at the main valve. If the break is in a hot water pipe, the valve on top of the water heater should be closed. Call a plumber. Keep an emergency number nearby for quick access.
- If your meter is frozen. If you believe that the water meter is frozen, contact the Water Department by calling (828) 251-1122. A Meter Technician will check to ensure that water is coming through the meter. All pipes and plumbing on the house side of the meter are considered private, and are the customer’s responsibility.
- In an emergency, however, the Water Resources Department is available 24/7. The City does not assist customers with indoor plumbing issues but can cut off the water source to help mitigate the situation if a break occurs. Should you need assistance, call the City’s Customer Service number at 828-251-1122.
Traveling for the holiday? Follow these tips:
- Set the thermostat in you house no lower than 55 degrees F (12 degrees C)
- Ask a friend or neighbor to check your house daily to make sure it’s warm enough to prevent freezing or shut off and drain the water system.
- Be aware – that if you have a fire protection sprinkler system in your house, it will be deactivated when you shut off the water.