Freeze Warning and Protecting the Three P’s

The Atlanta area, and much of the nation, is experiencing an unusually long deep freeze. Keep in mind the Three P’s: Pipes, Pets, and Plants to keep your family and property safe.

Protecting Pipes

  • Insulate exposed pipes. These are the pipes that come out of the ground and go into your house. Wrap them with old towels and tape the towels in place. You can also buy insulation that fits around the pipe. However, I have this on my own pipes at home and they still froze last year. That is because there are some gaps in the insulation. It doesn’t fit perfectly around the joints. You may want to wrap towels on any exposed areas just in case.
  • Drip your outdoor water tap. This keeps the water moving and moving water freezes slower than water stilling still.
  • Drip an indoor water tap the farthest away from where the water comes into the house. By doing this you are moving water through most of the pipes in the house.
  • Open the inside door to the garage to circulate warm air into that part of the house. Many of us have the pipes installed through the garage wall and then into the house. The garage is not heated so by opening the door and allowing heat to escape into the garage, the walls and pipes inside them remain a bit warmer.
  • Open cabinets below sinks if they are located on an outside wall. By doing this the warm air circulates through the cabinet and keeps that outside wall, where the pipes are located, a bit warmer than it would be if the cabinet was closed off from the warm air in the house.

Protecting Pets

  • Pets need to be inside!
  • That fur can only do so much when temps drop below 40 degrees! If you have an outdoor only dog, make sure the doghouse is protected from the wind and has plenty of warm blankets for the pup to tunnel into. Puppies and elderly dogs are more sensitive to the cold. And dogs that are ill should definitely be treated to a warmer room during this cold snap.

  • Bang loudly on the car hood before starting if up if you park outside. Outdoor cats sometimes crawl into engine compartments that are nice and warm from all that driving. If you start up the car and the cat is in the engine, you could injure or kill the animal. Give the cat a chance to escape.
  • Get out the sweater. Short-haired dog breeds get cold quick! So dress them up in a little coat or sweater to keep them from catching a cold.
  • Never leave dogs or cats in the car alone. A car can act like a refrigerator, holding the cold in. Just think how cold you are and how long the car takes to warm up, animals are feeling the same thing.
  • Active dogs need more food. Animals burn more calories during the cold weather. So add a little something extra to the bowl. Of course you want to make sure they have fresh, unfrozen water.


  • Keep cold-sensitive plants covered. At this point, if you haven’t covered them, don’t worry about it. The spring and summer growth has probably already died off. But keep that growth on there because that dead leaves and branches insulates the layers below and keeps them from being damaged by other freezes.
  • Cover fruit trees. Some fruit trees have done OK with the weather so far. But with the very cold temperatures you may want to throw a sheet over the tree if you don’t see any damage. If there is damage just let the tree be and cut off the dead limbs in the spring. The tree will probably not bear fruit next year but it should survive.

Water Heaters

  • Insulate your water heater. There are blankets that are specially made for water heaters sold at home improvement stores. You can put the blankets on yourself, however if applied wrong you can damage your water heater, cause damage to your home, and sometimes void the warranty. It is best to have a professional install these. You don’t necessarily need this for tonight but it’s a good idea to do this during the southern Arizona winters. Water heaters are often outside, in the cold garage. They lose some of the heat to the air and become less efficient during this time of year.
  • If water cut is cut to the house because of a burst pipe, turn off the water heater. You can burn out the elements by not having water in your water heater. So it’s best just to turn it off until everything is fixed.

Irrigation Systems

  • Shut off the water and drain. Refer to your owner’s manual on how to do this. Most piping buried in the ground is safe from freezing because the dirt, rocks, and foliage above it act as an insulator. Where the pipes are exposed, you want to cover that with old towels or pipe insulation.

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