Baton Rouge's first overnight freeze of the season
BATON ROUGE - Baton Rouge is bundling up after its first overnight freeze of the season.
Residents of the Capital region's typically warm climate have braved blustery weather in the past, but just in case a series of hot days have blurred memories of how to keep plants, pipes, and other personal belongings safe during a freeze, a few suggestions are below.
While most houses are built to withstand all sorts of weather, freezing temperatures can have a damaging impact on pipes. That's where the following pipe-protection suggestions from Farm Bureau Insurance may come in handy:
-Pipes in attics and crawl spaces should be protected with insulation or heat. Pipe insulation is available in fiberglass or foam sleeves. Home centers and hardware stores have sleeves providing one-eighth-of-an-inch to five-eighths-of an inch of insulation; specialty dealers have products that provide up to two inches of insulation. (Check the Yellow Pages under “Insulation” or “Plumbing Supplies” for sources.)
-Heating cables and tapes are effective in freeze protection. Select a heating cable with the Underwriters Laboratories label and a built-in thermostat that turns the heat on when needed (without a thermostat, the cable has to be plugged in each time and might be forgotten). Follow the manufacturer’s instructions closely.
-Doors on cabinets under kitchen and bathroom sinks should be left open during cold spells to allow the warmer air of the room to circulate around the pipes.
-Exterior pipes should be drained or enclosed in two-inch fiberglass insulation sleeves.
-Pipes leading to the exterior should be shut off and drained at the start of the winter. If these exterior faucets do not have a shut-off valve inside the house, have one installed by a plumber.
-Hoses should be removed and stored inside during the winter.
-Let faucets drip slowly to keep water flowing through pipes that are vulnerable to freezing. Ice might still form in the pipes, but an open faucet allows water to escape before the pressure builds to where a pipe can burst. If the dripping stops, it may mean that ice is blocking the pipe; keep the faucet open, since the pipe still needs pressure relief.
Local gardeners have yet another concern when freezing temperatures hit the region. But plants can be kept safe during cold weather, the Old Farmer's Almanac assures readers. It provides a series of helpful hints related to plants safety during freezing temperatures, a few of which are listed below:
-If possible, water the soil thoroughly before the frost. Water holds heat better than dry soil, protecting roots and warming air near the soil. However, avoid soaking the ground as this can lead to the water freezing within the soil and damaging the roots.
-In the fall, the first frost is often followed by a prolonged period of frost-free weather. Cover tender flowers and vegetables on frosty nights, and you may be able to enjoy extra weeks of gardening.
-Mulch your garden beds. Mulching with materials like straw, pine needles and wood chips helps preserve heat and moisture and so prevents frosts forming.
-Bring houseplants (especially tropicals) and other tender plants indoors before the first light frost arrives. Keep them in a sunny window in a relatively moist room; the kitchen is often best.
-If you have plants that can survive a light frost, add a heavy layer of mulch to keep the ground around them from freezing. You can still harvest late into the fall as long as the ground isn’t frozen. These veggies include: beets, broccoli, cabbage, celery, lettuce, parsnips, arugula, swiss chard, and other leafy greens.
Wait to harvest plants that can survive a hard frost last, such as: carrots, garlic, horseradish, kale, rutabagas, leeks, parsnips, radishes, spinach, and turnips.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), our vehicles are also affected by 'sweater weather.'
It recommends protecting your vehicle by:
-Having the radiator system serviced, or checking the antifreeze level yourself with an antifreeze tester. Adding antifreeze, as needed.
-Replacing windshield-wiper fluid with a wintertime mixture.
-Replacing any worn tires, and check the air pressure in the tires.
-During winter, keep the gas tank near full to help avoid ice in the tank and fuel lines
Additional tips on how to survive cold weather are available in a CDC document, which is accessible here.
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