The Town of Islip Offers Important Winter Safety Tips

The Town of Islip is offering these Winter safety tips for Long Island residents in lieu of the snow we have been receiving of late.

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Photo by: Kelly Tenny

Islip, NY - February 17, 2015 - The Town of Islip is offering these Winter safety tips for Long Island residents in lieu of the snow we have been receiving of late.

General Heating
Have a 3-foot (1 meter) “kid-free zone” around open fires and space heaters.

Supervise children whenever a wood or oil stove or other space heater is being used. Use a sturdy metal screen to prevent contact burns, which are more common than flame burns.

All heaters need space. Keep anything that can burn at least 3 feet (1 meter) away from heating equipment.

Use heating equipment that has the label of a recognized testing laboratory.

Never use your oven or stove for heating. Ovens and stoves are not designed to heat your home.

Install stationary space heating equipment, water heaters, or central heating equipment according to local codes and the manufacturer’s instructions.

Have a qualified professional install the equipment.

Make sure fuel-burning equipment is vented to the outside to avoid carbon monoxide (CO) poisoning. Carbon monoxide is created when fuels burn incompletely. Carbon monoxide poisoning can cause illness and even death. Make sure the venting for exhaust is kept clear and unobstructed. This includes removal of snow and ice and other debris around the outlet to the outside.

Choose a carbon monoxide (CO) alarm that has the label of a recognized testing laboratory. Install and maintain CO alarms inside your home to provide early warning of carbon monoxide.

Maintain heating equipment and chimneys by having them cleaned and inspected annually by a qualified professional.

Portable Electric Space Heaters
Turn heaters off when you go to bed or leave the room.

Purchase and use only portable space heaters that have the label of a recognized testing laboratory.

Purchase and use space heaters that have an automatic shut-off—if they tip over, they shut off.

Place space heaters on a solid, flat surface and keep them and their electrical cords away from things that can burn, high traffic areas, and doorways.

Plug space heaters directly into wall outlets and never into an extension cord or power strip.

Do not plug anything else into the same circuit as the one you are using for your space heater. Doing so could result in overheating.

Check often for a secure plug/outlet fit. If the plug does not fit snugly into the wall outlet or if the plug becomes very hot, the outlet may need to be replaced. Have a qualified electrician replace the wall outlet.

Inspect for cracked or damaged cords, broken plugs, or loose connections. Replace them before using the space heater.

Thawing Frozen Pipes
If you experience an unexpected cold snap or extended freezing weather, your pipes and the water inside of them can freeze. Frozen water pipes can pose a dangerous and potentially costly situation for you and your home; expanding ice inside water pipes can add enough pressure to rupture the piping and pour hundreds of gallons of water into your home. To learn how to thaw frozen pipes safely, read on.

How to Thaw Frozen Pipes That Are Accessible
First, you need to determine which pipes are frozen. You can do this by turning on every faucet in the house and noting which ones do not work. If the piping is easy to reach, you’ll be able to tell a frozen pipe by touching it and feeling the cold. Turn off the working faucets, but leave the faucet open for the pipes that are not working. This way, you will see the water come out once you fix the problem. Here's how to thaw frozen pipes in three easy variations:

1. Use a hair dryer for thawing frozen pipes. How to do it? Be sure to keep the dryer moving so that the heat is spread evenly along the length of the freeze.

2. Dunk a few rags into a tub of hot (but not boiling) water and wrap them around the pipe. Remove the rags when they cool and replace with new hot ones as the frozen pipes thaw.

3. You can buy a grounded, water-resistant heating pad from your local home improvement store and use this to wrap the frozen pipe. Set it to the lowest setting and check every 15 minutes to make sure the pipe is warming to the touch.

Note: Never use a direct flame to thaw frozen pipes. This will create a fire hazard and can make the problem worse.

How to Thaw Frozen Pipes Inside Walls or Other Barriers
If you can’t access the piping due to walls, ground installation or other restrictions, you might need to call a qualified plumber to help you with the problem. However, there are a few tricks you can try first.

1. Raise the temperature inside your home and open all cabinets to allow the warm air to circulate close to the walls where there is interior piping.

2. Face a heat lamp or portable heater toward the wall where you believe the frozen pipe is located. Be sure to place the heat source at least 18 inches away from the wall and don’t forget to remove any flammable objects from nearby.

After warming your pipes with any of the methods above, you should see water starting to trickle from the faucet as the frozen pipe begins to thaw. Continue heating the pipe until full water pressure returns. If none of these methods are successful, find an experienced local plumber who can thaw your frozen pipes for you.

Pet Care
All pets should be brought and kept indoors. Pets should not be left outside for extended periods of time. All pets should have adequate shelter, food and water. Short haired dogs are likely to get colder, faster. Sweaters or jackets can help in this case. Booties are a good option for pets walking on snow or ice. Remember to opt for pet safe ice melt, as regular salt can damage paws and mouths.