This week’s blog by Laurie Loftin, Water Conservation Office Program Specialist
Snowpocalypse is heading our way!!! Are you prepared? Use our handy-dandy checklist to determine if you have everything you need to survive this next round of wintry weather.
___ Buy milk and bread (I don’t get it, but everyone seems to do this, so you must need it, too!)
___ Buy beer or bourbon (This I can understand.)
___ Stock up on toilet paper (No explanation needed.)
___ Gas up the car (Just in case you want to head somewhere warmer.)
___ Gather firewood & blankets (You want to be warm if the power goes out.)
___ Conserve water (Was this on your list?)
If you are a regular viewer of National Geographic’s Doomsday Preppers TV show, I bet most of these items are already on your winter weather checklist. The one you may have missed is “conserve water.” Or did you? If you have thought about how to protect your pipes from freezing, you have “conserve water” on your list, too. Wh-what? Let me explain.
It is very important for homeowners to protect their water pipes from freezing. The water loss and damage from burst pipes can be massive. The Emergency Plumbers in Lancashire estimate the potential loss to be 105 gallons an hour, the equivalent of two full bathtubs. A seemingly tiny 1/8th-inch crack in a pipe can result in 250 gallons of water lost each day. Imagine if you went to Miami to avoid Snowpocalypse, completely ignoring the “conserve water” item on the Handy Dandy Snowpocalypse Checklist, and stayed gone a week. At this rate of water loss, you would return to find 12, 469 gallons of water flooding your home.
In early January 2014, Athens-Clarke County (ACC) experienced tremendous water loss due to the record-breaking cold temperatures. During this time of year, ACC typically delivers 10 – 12 million gallons of water per day (mgd) to customers. January 7 – 9 these numbers increased to 14, 16, and 15 mgd, respectively, so we pumped roughly 9 extra million gallons of water these three days. Unfortunately, this water was not used for drinking, bathing, cleaning, or fire safety. It gushed freely and was lost due to rupturing pipes and faucets left dripping and forgotten about. Do you now understand why I added “conserve water” to the checklist?
To satisfy the last component of the Snowpocalypse Checklist, you must prepare and protect your pipes. A recent blog posting on Think at the Sink shared several practical tips for actions to take before and when cold weather hits to prevent your house from flooding. In case you have not yet gotten these items done due to standing too long in the Kroger check out line, I’d like to share with you some tips for what to do when it is too late to save a pipe.
- Go NOW and determine the location of the main water shutoff valve in your home and/or at the meter and know how to shut it off.
- DO NOT expect a plumber or the water business office to provide immediate assistance. There are hundreds of others in the same situation calling for help. These workers are doing their best to drive in the snow and ice to provide help to everyone as quickly as they can.
- If you notice water pouring into a living area, immediately go and shut off the valve you already located in the first tip. Do not wait for a plumber to arrive and shut the water off. This can take too long and allow for extensive damage to occur.
- After main valve is turned off, shut off all faucets and then open the lowest faucets in your home to take pressure off the burst pipe and reduce the chances of it spraying.
- Know where your electrical box is and how to shut it off. If you have standing water, shut off the electricity before entering the room to reduce the risk of electrocution.
- Hot water heater burst? Shut off the water heater as well as the breaker to the water heater if it is electric, or if it’s gas, turn off the valve located near the water heater.
- Move away furniture and belongings from the effected area. Use a sump pump or wet-dry vac to remove water.
- Take an inventory of damaged property and call your insurance company.
I hope you find our Snowpocalypse Checklist a helpful tool for your ability to survive a winter storm. By checking off each item, you are ensuring you and your family have the basic necessities you need, including water.
Stay warm & be safe!