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Safeguarding your home ahead of the freezing weather

Temperatures are expected to drop well below 40 degrees this week. At that temperature, it could be harmful for some plants.

SAN ANTONIO — The hard freeze is coming to San Antonio on Thursday night. Brrr!

With the cold snap expected, plants may have trouble surviving the chilly temperatures.

The general manager of The Garden Center said sales are increasing on mulch and insulating blankets for plants. He showed us a fabric material, "like a lightweight felt. This will make a ten degree difference on your plants. This is a good product, but old sheets and blankets work well too," said Wayne Harrell.

Harrell advises against using plastic to cover plants.

"Plastic touching plants will actually do more harm than the freeze itself will do. It's okay to cover them with an old sheet or blanket and then put plastic on top of that. You just don't want the plastic touching your plants," said Harrell.

Got tender plants in containers? Consider moving them from the north side to the south side of the house.

"Because that north wind, when it comes bearing down, it really does a number on tender plants," he said.

Some plants handle the cold weather better than others. Tropical plants suffer the most at 40 degrees.

"For hanging tropical plants, you're going to want to put them on the ground, bring them up by the porch, and/or garage," said Harrell.

Watering also helps plants before an arctic blast. Harrell said water and a couple of inches of mulch insulates the root system.

If the plant suffers from frost damage, it may be a while before you know.

"It's interesting some things you won't know if things froze back. Did they completely die? Gosh, you won't know until sometime as late spring."

For more tips on how to prepare your plants for a cold front, visit their website.

Protect your pipes and pets, too

Your plumbing and water systems risk serious damage if they aren't safeguarded against the cold, too. 

The service manager at Quarter Moon Plumbing suggests turning on faucets by Thursday afternoon, and keep them dripping until Saturday. Allowing warm water to drip out of your faucet will keep fluid flowing through the pipes and make it more difficult for them to freeze.

Also, open cabinets below the sink.

“Turn the heat on [in the house] to help those pipes stayed thawed out while the cold weather is coming,” said Greg Frederick.

San Antonio Water System officials say you should take care to insulate your pipes, either with foam, rags or even newspapers. Home irrigation systems should also be turned off ahead of the arctic blast, and exterior pool pumps should be covered as well. 

They also recommend having a stock of tap water in large containers in case of outages. Find more information from SAWS here

If cold weather causes your pipes to burst, turn off the water main.

"Turn off the water, the water will continuously flow 

Pets, meanwhile, should be brought inside and out of the dangerously cold conditions. According to Texas law, it's illegal for dogs to be chained at any time during such severe cold, and they shouldn't be left outside alone. 

Be wary of fire hazards

Even if you're looking for extra ways to stay warm, you shouldn't jeopardize your safety. San Antonio Fire Department officials provided the following tips for once the freeze arrives:

  • Keep any materials that can burn at least three feet away from heat sources like fireplaces or space heaters. 
  • Never use your oven to heat your residence. 
  • Never use generators outdoors. 
  • Never plug portage heaters into power strips, but directly into wall outlets. 
  • Always turn off portable heaters before leaving or going to bed. 
  • Don't leave children in a room alone with a space heater. 
  • Test your smoke alarms.


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