MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — Monday’s polar vortex is plunging millions of homes into dangerously cold conditions. Water pipes can burst, furnaces can be overworked, and carbon monoxide can build up if you’re using a fireplace that’s not properly ventilated.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has a list of precautions that can help keep you safe during the subzero snap.
One of the biggest precautions is to seal your home to keep the warm air in, and the cold air outside. This will keep your furnace from overworking itself.
You’ll also save money. In a Good Question segment from awhile back, we reported that the average Minnesota home has cracks and holes equivalent to the size of a basketball. 3M told WCCO that sealing 10 average windows will save homeowners $113 a winter.
When it comes to fireplaces, make sure the chimney is regularly inspected and that snow or ice isn’t blocking the top of it. Also, do not burn paper in a fireplace.
Space heaters are a good way to heat individual rooms, but they have a long list of dangers. The CDC recommends keeping space heaters at least three feet from anything flammable, and that includes curtains, furniture or bedding. Never place one on top of furniture or near water, and avoid extension cords.
Water pipes can freeze, especially if they’re close to an exterior wall. And if they freeze, they can burst. Good insulation helps, but there are a few things you can do this morning if you’re concerned, and you don’t have to buy anything.
First, leave all water taps slightly open so they drip continuously. Second, set your thermostat a little higher than normal, and third, open cabinet doors beneath sinks so that warm air can get to the pipes.
If you do find yourself with frozen pipes, you won’t want to use a blow torch to thaw them. The best way is to slowly heat up the pipe with a hair dryer.