Indiana American Water is urging customers to secure homes and businesses against freezing pipes and to make sure snow is cleared from around fire hydrants so firefighters can locate and operate them quickly in an emergency.

“Although the winter season can pose many challenges to a homeowner, two of the biggest are hydrants blocked by snow and ice and the risk of frozen pipes and fire,” said Indiana American Water President Deborah Dewey. “Ice or snow covered fire hydrants can cause delays in critical fire situations. Experience has shown that fires can double in size every 30 to 60 seconds, leading to more severe injuries and trauma, an increase in fire-related deaths, and heavier damage to structures,” Dewey said. “Homeowners should clear the area around their hydrants as soon as possible after the snow stops falling to protect their homes and families. Failing to protect your plumbing from cold temperatures can also be very risky. When ice expands inside pipes, it can crack and burst them, leaving homeowners with a costly plumbing bill, and thousands of dollars in damages from water leaking inside the house.”

Indiana American Water is urging customers to secure homes and businesses against freezing pipes and to make sure snow is cleared from around fire hydrants so firefighters can locate and operate them quickly in an emergency.

“Although the winter season can pose many challenges to a homeowner, two of the biggest are hydrants blocked by snow and ice and the risk of frozen pipes and fire,” Dewey said. "Ice or snow covered fire hydrants can cause delays in critical fire situations. Experience has shown that fires can double in size every 30 to 60 seconds, leading to more severe injuries and trauma, an increase in fire-related deaths, and heavier damage to structures. Homeowners should clear the area around their hydrants as soon as possible after the snow stops falling to protect their homes and families. Failing to protect your plumbing from cold temperatures can also be very risky. When ice expands inside pipes, it can crack and burst them, leaving homeowners with a costly plumbing bill, and thousands of dollars in damages from water leaking inside the house.”

Luckily, these problems are preventable by evaluating areas of vulnerability throughout the home and taking certain precautions. Implementing the following winterization tips now can help avoid headaches later:

? Search your house for uninsulated pipes, especially in unheated areas. Consider wrapping pipes with electric heating tape, but follow manufacturer's instructions carefully to avoid a fire hazard.
? Seal cracks and holes in outside walls and foundations with caulking, especially where cable TV or phone lines enter the house, to keep cold winds away from pipes.
? If your home is heated by a hot-water radiator, bleed the valves by opening them slightly. Close them when water appears.
? Make certain the water to your hose bibs is shut off inside your house (via a turnoff valve), and the lines are drained.
? Drain and shut off entirely the water to any unoccupied residence such as a summer or vacation home. A loss of power during a winter storm could cause pipes to freeze. If you intend to leave a property entirely without heat, be sure to drain all water to prevent the possibility of frozen pipes.
? Set the thermostat at 55 degrees if you’re going out of town. Although you may be able to get away with a lower temperature, this setting is considered to be safe for pipes.
? Consider wrapping your water heater in an insulation blanket. While not really at danger for freezing, this can lower your heating bills.

Additional information on preventing frozen pipes is available on online at https://amwater.com/inaw/water-information/wise-water-use.