National Weather Service United States Department of Commerce

Essential Tasks After it Warms Up

  • Check Your Pipes: Your pipes may be frozen. Water pipes on exterior walls and in places that are subject to cold, like in the basement, attic, and under kitchen cabinets, freeze most often. Water expands as it freezes, causing pipes to burst. If they are frozen, first turn on the faucet. Water will drip as you warm the pipes. Heat the pipes using a space heater, heating pad, electric hair dryer, or hot water on a cloth. Never use an open flame. Continue until water pressure returns to normal or call a plumber if you have more issues.
  • Salt Your Walkways: Once it warms up enough to go out, it's important to shovel the snow from your sidewalks and driveway or sprinkle salt if there is ice. If there is a thick layer of snow on the ground that you cannot move, salt the area so that the snow melts. You should also put down salt if there is ice on the stairs leading into your house – less than a quarter inch of ice can be dangerous!
  • Call Your Neighbors: Check to see that your neighbors are okay, particularly seniors, disabled persons, or others living alone. Carbon monoxide poisoning is one of the leading causes of death after extreme cold, particularly if there are power outages. Cases of frostbite and hypothermia are also common for elderly people who were stuck in their homes.
  • Refill Your Supplies: This cold event may be over, but there might be another one soon. It is important to always be prepared.