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November 14, 2014

Protect the 4 P's: People, Pets, Pipes, and Plants
City of Houston Office of Emergency Management (OEM) Offers
Cold Weather Safety Tips


When temperatures drop, it's important to take all the necessary steps to help keep yourself and your family safe.  Follow these tips to help protect the 4 "P's:
People

  • Check on the elderly and those who may have functional or access needs to make sure that they have sufficient warmth to get them through the cold weather.
  • Make sure to properly use space heaters and fireplaces, ensuring that there is at least 3 feet of space around them while operating. Get safety tips from the Houston Fire Department Fire Prevention & Life Safety Guidebook.

Hypothermia

  • Watch for signs of hypothermia, which include uncontrollable shivering, memory loss, disorientation, incoherence, slurred speech, drowsiness and exhaustion.  If you feel the person is suffering from hypothermia, get them to a warm location, remove any wet clothing and warm the center of the body first, giving warm, non-alcoholic beverages to the victim if conscious.  Get medical help as soon as possible. If a persons' body temperature falls below 95?, it is a medical emergency - call 911 immediately.

Outdoor Activities

  • Avoid doing activities, such as exercising, outdoors when there is extreme cold. 
  • If you have to be outdoors, dress in several thin layers rather than one thick layer, cover your head to reduce heat loss, cover your mouth using  scarf or mask to help warm the air before your breath it. 

Driving

  • When driving, be sure to remember that cold weather may cause highway overpasses and bridges to freeze. Take extra precautions when driving during cold weather. 

Pets

  • During extremely cold weather, pets should be kept indoors.
  • Don't shave your pet's coat all the way down during winter, exposed skin can easily lead to hypothermia and frostbite. If your dog is short-haired, consider getting him a coat or sweater for the winter weather.
  • Never leave your animal in a car during the winter.  They can act as refrigerators and can result in hypothermia.
  • More from the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA) 

Pipes

  • While pipes generally do not freeze until the temperature drops into the 20s, pipes exposed to windy areas could experience cracking.
  • Be sure that pipes are properly insulated, wrap newspaper or clothes around outside faucets, or in cold areas of homes.
  • Remember to protect and/or drain your sprinkler systems and garden hoses by shutting them off.
  • If you think a pipe might be frozen (you open a tap and  no water comes out), don't take any chances, call a plumber and leave your tap open until they arrive. Also, turn off the water main to your house to avoid shifting ice and flooding.

Plants

  • Plants should be covered on cold nights with fabric to help keep them somewhat insulated during a freeze.
  • You can also create windbreaks around sensitive plants to keep the cold air from "burning" them.
  • Keep your plants hydrated, which helps fight off drying due to cold winds. 

For more information on the steps you can take to protect your family and your home during cold weather, visit the City of Houston Emergency Information Center at houstontx.gov/emergency or call the Office of Emergency Management at 713.884.4500.

Four Ps Graphic


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