Cold Weather Safety Tips

Protect People, Pets, Pipes, and Plants

As extreme cold weather approaches, remember "The Four P's"

PeoplePetsPipesPlants
  • Keep warm, stay inside if possible.
  • If you need to go out, dress in layers and wear hats, gloves, and an appropriate coat.
  • If you must travel, use Sugar Land's Real-Time Traffic Conditions Map to check traffic and road conditions before you head out.
  • 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 to these unpredictable weather conditions.

  • There's no need to drip inside faucets during freezing weather (it will not adversely affect city water pressure if residents choose to do so), though there’s benefit to keeping cabinets open to expose pipes to warm air (as long as there’s nothing harmful inside that’s accessible to small children or pets).
  • Disconnect outdoor hoses, drain, and store in a protected area.
  • 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.
  • 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.

  • Know which plants need to be protected and which can withstand the cold
  • For cold-sensitive outdoor plants, put down extra mulch and consider covering them with a cloth fabric of some kind to shield the plants from wind and frost.
  • If there is sleet or snow that collects, dust it off as soon as it is safe
  • Bring potted plants inside or store in the garage, near an interior wall to provide extra warmth and protection from wind.

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Check Traffic and Road Conditions

If you must travel, use Sugar Land's Real-Time Traffic Conditions Map to check traffic and road conditions before you head out.

Keeping Your Home Safe

  • Fit exposed pipes with insulation sleeves or wrapping to slow heat transfer.
  • The City does not turn off the water at the meter to prevent frozen pipes.
  • Learn how to shut off water valves (in case a pipe bursts).
  • If a pipe bursts: 
    • Locate and shut off water at the main valve
    • If the main valve cannot be located, call 311 or 281-275-2900 and the city's utility staff will come and turn off the water at the meter 
    • Call a plumber
  • Learn how to drain your sprinkler system to prevent freezing
  • Seal cracks and holes in outside walls and foundations near water pipes with caulking.
  • Make sure you have a working carbon monoxide detector. Carbon monoxide related deaths are highest during colder months.
  • Make sure your gutters are clear of leaves and debris.
  • Maintain heating equipment and chimneys by having them cleaned and inspected every year.

Portable Space Heater Safety

Portable space heaters are often used to heat rooms and homes. If not used properly, they can cause fires, severe injuries, and death. If using a portable heater, remember these important safety tips:

  • Make sure you have a working smoke alarm.
  • Keep heaters at least 3 feet from anything that can burn, including furniture, carpets, curtains, and people.
  • Place heaters on solid, non-flammable surfaces.
  • Never block exits with a heater and keep them out of the way of foot traffic.
  • Keep children away from heaters.
  • Always plug heaters directly into wall outlets – NEVER use an extension cord.
  • Turn off and unplug space heaters when leaving a room or going to bed.