Thursday, January 24, 2013

"It's like the North Pole out here!"

Photo courtesy
That's a quote from my son as we walked to school today. Lake effect snow joined the frigid temperatures in Buffalo and the northtowns this morning, something the southtowns and southern tier have already been dealing with. This made for a slow morning commute, with several reports of accidents.

The dangers of this cold and snow are not limited to the roadways, however. Our Disaster Action Team volunteers responded to two separate fires yesterday, one of which was directly attributable to this winter weather. Thanks to your support, our volunteers were able to provide a homeowner with vouchers for temporary housing, food, clothing and shoes when his North Transit Road home in Lockport was destroyed by fire after, he told officials, he attempted to thaw frozen water lines with a propane torch.

We're glad this gentleman is alright, and while our volunteers are always ready and willing to help, I'm sure they would prefer to not have to stand outside in the freezing temperatures any more than necessary. So here's some tips to SAFELY thaw those frozen pipes:

  • If you turn on a faucet and only a trickle comes out, suspect a frozen pipe. Likely places for frozen pipes include against exterior walls or where your water service enters your home through the foundation.
  • Keep the faucet open. As you treat the frozen pipe and the frozen area begins to melt, water will begin to flow through the frozen area. Running water through the pipe will help melt ice in the pipe.
  • Apply heat to the section of pipe using an electric heating pad wrapped around the pipe, an electric hair dryer, a portable space heater (kept away from flammable materials), or by wrapping pipes with towels soaked in hot water. Do not use a blowtorch, kerosene or propane heater, charcoal stove, or other open flame device.
  • Apply heat until full water pressure is restored. If you are unable to locate the frozen area, if the frozen area is not accessible, or if you can not thaw the pipe, call a licensed plumber.
  • Check all other faucets in your home to find out if you have additional frozen pipes. If one pipe freezes, others may freeze, too.
Of course the best way to deal with frozen pipes is to prevent them from freezing in the first place. We have some hints on how to do just that, as well as other winter storm safety tips, on our website. Stay safe and warm, Buffalo. Santa Claus may not really live in WNY, but he'd probably feel pretty comfortable here this week! 

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