How To Survive Severe Winter Storms & Below-Freezing Temperatures

This time of year, Mother Nature is known to blow some extremely chilly temperatures our way and severe weather along with it. We thought it would be a great idea to give you a simple and easy checklist to give your home a solid once-over and get prepared.

🔥1. Keep your house heated to a minimum of 65 degrees. The temperature inside the walls where the pipes are located is substantially colder than the walls themselves. A temperature lower than 65 degrees might not keep the inside walls from freezing.

✅2. Check the location for the main water shutoff in your home. Refresh your memory on how to access it, in case you have to use it to shut your water off.

✅3. Open hot and cold faucets enough to let them drip slowly. In severely frigid temperatures, keeping water moving within the pipes will help prevent freezing.
✅4. Put Styrofoam covers over your outside water faucets. This will help insulate the exposed faucet and prevent moisture / water buildup that can often freeze and cause a crack in the faucet itself or the pipe going into the home.
✅5. Check that fireplaces, wood stoves, and electric heaters are working properly. Be sure to keep all combustible items away from the heat source.
✅6. Keep your fire place flue closed when you’re not using it. This will prevent much needed heat within your home from getting out.
✅7. If you’re traveling, ask a relative, neighbor, or friend to check on the house. If pipes freeze or if there’s a water leak, quick action could mean far less damage. If you plan to be away for an extended period of time, have the water system—including
✅8. Run your swimming pool pump at night when temperatures are expected to go below freezing. This will keep the water flowing through the pipes.
✅8. Keep your sidewalks and entrances to your home free from ice and snow. Spread salt across outside steps and knows areas where ice can accumulate and keep a bag of salt handy to help avoid a painful slip-&-fall.
✅9. Keep your garage doors closed. This will prevent weather damage to whatever’s stored in there. Plus, if your garage is attached to your house, the home entrance door from the garage is probably not as well insulated as an exterior door so this will keep more heat in.
✅9. Double check for dead, damaged or dangerous tree branches and have them removed. Even if they looked sound earlier in the year, trees can be affected by ice, snow, drought from the summer or wind. When stressed, branches can fall and damage your house or car, or injure someone on or near your property. If needed, call a professional tree trimming company and have them help.
❤️10. Check on your elderly family, neighbors, and friends, they may not have had the opportunity to make their home ready for the cold.
✅11. If you have to go out, let your vehicle run, and “warm up” for about five minutes. Which, will probably be just about enough time for the windows to defog. Avoid pouring extremely hot and/or boiling water onto your windshield. The extreme temperature difference could cause damage to your windshield.
🐶🐱12. Don’t forget about your outside PETS!!! If you can’t bring them indoors, or at least into the garage, make sure that they have extra food and a water source that won’t ice over. Fresh, or extra bedding like straw in their “house” will also help them stay warm.

In The Event Of A Problem

Even with all the precautions you can take, sometimes Mother Nature’s power is just too strong and the unfortunate happens, but quick action can minimize the damage. And if you have a standard homewoners insurance policy, it’s likely you’re covered for most deep freeze disasters. We hope it won’t come to that, but if it does, here’s what we suggest:
✅ 1. Don’t wait for frozen pipes to burst. If your pipes are frozen, take measures to thaw them immediately, or call a plumber for assistance.
✅ 2. If your pipes burst, first turn off the water. You know now where the main water shut off is, right? Cut off the flow, then attend to the mess and …
✅ 3. Properly dry and repair any water damage. This will help prevent any potential problems with mold.
✅ 4. If your home has been damaged due to a fallen tree or branch and your roof and/or walls have been compromised, vacate the home. Your safety is key, and you want to find shelter with a neighbor, friend, relative or hotel to avoid exposure to the outside elements or additional structural damage causing ceilings or walls to collapse causing further injury.
✅ 5. Call your insurance professional as soon as possible (we hope that’s us at SIG).  Your licensed agent or agency representative will advise you on next steps to provide you peace of mind and what to do next in the event of a problem.
We hope this Severe Weather Survival Guide has been helpful as we face extremely cold temperatures ahead. At SIG Insurance Services in Marshall, Longview and Carthage Texas, we want to wish you all a safe and incident-free winter.