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MEMA Home > Programs> Communication> News > Bundle Up for Winter Deep Freeze

Bundle Up for Winter Deep Freeze


January 13, 2004


AUGUSTA, MAINE --The National Weather Service is predicting frigid temperatures for the next few days, and has issued wind chill warnings for all of Maine for Tuesday night through Wednesday. The Maine Emergency Management Agency (MEMA) urges all Mainers to bundle up, and make sure they are heating their homes safely.

“It’s a good time to review winter safety tips,” says Art Cleaves, MEMA Director. “The cold will create dangerous conditions across Maine for the next few days.”

Some basic tips include:
• Keep clothing and other combustibles away from space heaters and wood stoves. It doesn't take long for old newspapers to catch on fire and destroy your home.
• Eating and dressing properly can provide natural warmth. Well-balanced meals help the body produce its own heat, and several thin layers of clothing provide increased protection. Drink warm fluids and avoid drinking alcohol.
• If you use a kerosene heater make sure the room is well ventilated, use only K-1 grade fuel in kerosene heaters, and follow all operating instructions.
• If you use a wood stove, burn only clean, dry hardwood if possible . If you must burn wet wood run an open draft and check for creosote build-up frequently. If you burn soft wood take precautions not to overheat the stove, smoke pipe or chimney. Monitor the fire closely.
• Remember to check on older or ill neighbors and friends to make sure they are warm and safe.

If you must go outside:
• Wear layered clothing, mittens or gloves, and a hat. Layering clothes will keep you warmer than a single heavy coat. Outer garments should be tightly woven and water repellent. Mittens or gloves and a hat will prevent loss of body heat. Mittens are warmer than gloves because fingers maintain more warmth when they touch each other. A hat keeps you warm because half of your body heat loss is from the head.
• Cover your mouth to protect your lungs from extremely cold air. Avoid taking deep breaths; minimize talking.
• Go inside often for warm-up breaks. If you start to shiver a lot or get very tired, or if your nose, fingers, toes, or earlobes start to feel numb or turn very pale, go inside right away.

To try to prevent pipes from freezing:
• Open kitchen and bathroom cabinet doors to allow warmer air to circulate around the plumbing.
• Run water through the pipe at a trickle. The temperature of the water running through it is above freezing and helps keep the pipe open.

If you are trying to thaw frozen pipes:
• Keep the faucet open. As you treat the frozen pipe and the frozen area begins to melt, water will begin to flow through the frozen area. Running water through the pipe will help melt more ice in the pipe.
• Apply heat to the section of pipe using an electric heating pad wrapped around the pipe, and electric hair dryer, a portable space heater (kept away from flammable materials), or wrapping pipes with towels soaked in hot water. Do not use a blowtorch, kerosene or propane heater, charcoal stove, or other open flame device. Besides the fire danger, a blowtorch can make water in a frozen pipe boil and cause the pipe to explode.

For many more winter safety and preparedness tips, visit MEMA’s website at and click on the Winter Safety and Preparedness link.




Last update: 07/20/10