How to Prepare for Freezing Temperatures

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Cold weather can cause serious problems without appropriate preparation. But just remember is "The Three P's" when the weather goes below 32 degrees and you will be in good shape:

 The Three P's:

 People  Pets  Pipes
  • Keep warm, stay inside if possible.
  • If you need to go out, dress in layers and wear hats, gloves and an appropriate coat.
  • Avoid overexertion, as cold weather puts added strain on your body.
  • Never place a space heater on top of furniture or near water.
  • Keep heat sources at least 3 feet away from furniture and drapes.
  • Never leave children unattended near a space heater.
  • Protect yourself from carbon monoxide (CO) poisoning by installing a battery-operated CO detector and never using generators, grills, camp stoves, or similar devices indoors.
  •  Bring pets inside, and move other animals or livestock to sheltered areas.
  • Keep adequate food and water available.
  • It's important to remember that a pet's age, breed or illness may affect how they tolerate the cold winter months. The Houston SPCA advises that it is best that all pets live indoors due these unpredictable weather conditions.
  •  Disconnect outdoor hoses, drain and store in protected area.
  • Wrap exposed faucets and pipes, including those outside the house or in unheated crawl spaces, attics, garages and other areas.
  • If you have a pool, besides keeping the pump running, make sure all the valves are open as well.
  • Disconnect and drain your irrigation system.
  • Wrap all your outside water pipes: faucets, main water pipes, sprinkler vacuum breaker, etc.
    • You can purchase covers for these at your local hardware store. One can also wrap with towels and blankets to make sure pipes are not exposed.
  • Drain and turn off your main valve to sprinkler vacuum breaker – then cover them.
  • Let faucets drip, especially any with plumbing on an outside wall – run one for each water tank.
  • Open your under sink cabinets in your house to help heat the pipes.
  • Open closet doors also in case you have plumbing in the walls or ceiling.
  • Turn your thermostats hotter during the cold to help heat the home better.


Other helpful tips: 


Keep emergency supplies at hand and stay informed about the weather conditions in our area. Sign up for e-Alerts from the City, or follow us on Twitter or Facebook for weather updates. You can get additional information by visiting


Prepare your car for winter. Have your car serviced and add antifreeze as needed. Make sure battery terminals are clean and tightened. Make certain windshield wipers and defrosters are in good working order and the window washer reservoirs are filled.


Housing: Provide proper shelter for your pet whether they live indoors or outdoors. Indoor pets should have their bed or crate placed in a safe and warm place that is away from drafts. Outdoor pets should have a well-insulated house that is wind and water resistant and elevated off the ground so wind and moisture can't seep inside. Install a door flap to protect against drafts and gusts of wind. Extra blankets and straw will also help to increase your pet's warmth. Room and floor heaters should be kept away from your pet as they are an obvious fire hazard and can cause serious injuries as well.

Food & Water: Make sure to provide fresh, clean water for your pet every day. Outdoor pets need to consume 25 to 50 percent more calories than usual because the cold weather tends to deplete their energy. Make sure to talk to your veterinarian to make sure what is right for your pet.

Cars are Refrigerators: A car can act as refrigerator in the winter. Never leave your dog or cat alone in a car during the winter months as they will freeze to death.

Cats and Cars: Keep your cats indoors during the winter. Not only can outdoor cats freeze, they sometimes sleep under the hoods of cars to stay warm. When the motor is started, the cat can be injured or killed by the fan belt. Give an outdoor cat a chance to escape by banging loudly on the car hood before starting your car.

Warmth: If you have a short-haired breed of dog, consider getting him / her a sweater with a high collar or turtleneck with coverage from the base of the tail to the belly to keep them warm. Never shave your dog down to the skin in the winter months as a longer coat will provide more warmth.

Antifreeze: Dogs and cats are attracted to the sweet smell and taste of antifreeze which contains ethylene glycol. A tiny lick can kill your dog or cat so make sure to check your car for leaks on your driveway or gutter. Keep containers tightly closed and clean up spills immediately. Check your local retailer for "pet safe" antifreeze.

The Houston SPCA encourages you to be especially mindful of your pets this winter and to keep telephone numbers for your veterinarian and a local emergency veterinary service in a convenient location.