Winter Weather: Tips for around the house

Around the house

Although Colorado Springs generally experiences mild winters, typically the area is hit with one or two major snowstorms or extreme cold temperature events each year. One of the primary concerns is the winter weather’s ability to knock out heat, power, and communications services to your residence or office, sometimes for days at a time. Heavy snowfall and extreme cold can immobilize an entire region.

When winter weather is in the forecast residents should follow local weather warnings and follow news from local officials online. Residents are also encouraged to take the necessary precautions to prepare their family, home and vehicles accordingly and ensure they have a plan and adequate supplies to stay at home for at least 72 hours, if necessary.

What to do before a storm strikes

  • Make an emergency plan and communicate it with your family. Build a 72-hour kit with adequate food, supplies and medications to stay home for several days, if needed. 
  • Check on relatives, friends, and neighbors who may need assistance preparing for a storm.
  • Listen to NOAA Weather Radio and your local radio and TV stations for updated storm information. Know what winter storm watches and warnings mean.
  • Be alert to changing weather conditions and avoid unnecessary travel.
  • Let faucets drip a little to help prevent freezing.
  • Test smoke and carbon monoxide detectors.

Winterize Your Home

  • Install storm shutters, doors and windows; clean out gutters; repair any roof leaks; and have a contractor check the stability of your roof in the event of a large accumulation of snow.
  • Insulate walls and attic. Caulk and weather-strip doors and windows. Install storm windows, or cover windows with plastic from the inside.
  • Have safe emergency heating equipment available. For residences with functioning fireplaces, keep an ample supply of wood. Utilize portable electric space heaters. Keep a fire extinguisher on hand.
  • Install and check batteries in smoke and carbon monoxide detectors.
  • Make sure you have sufficient heating fuel; you may have difficulty obtaining fuel in the immediate aftermath of a bad storm.
  • Service snow removal equipment, and have rock salt on hand to melt ice on walkways. Kitty litter can be used to generate temporary traction. 
  • Insulate pipes and allow faucets to drip a little during cold weather to avoid freezing.
  • Learn how to shut off water valves in case pipes freeze and burst. 

Sidewalk snow removal

Colorado Springs requires property owners to clear their walkways so that EVERYONE has safe access throughout the City!  Senior citizens, people with disabilities, parents with strollers, and mail carriers -just to name a few- struggle to negotiate hazardous walkways.  We need to do our part to make our community safe and accessible for all.

Timing: Once snow has stopped falling, residents have twenty-four (24) hours and businesses until have until 5 p.m. the following day, to remove snow and ice from public sidewalks adjacent to their property.

Neighbors Helping Neighbors: Offer to clear your neighbor's sidewalk if they are elderly, disabled, or simply unable to perform the task.

If you are unable to clear your sidewalk, ask a neighbor or family member for help. Or, to find snow removal services, please search the internet for snow removal services or check with your neighborhood organization.

Report A Problem: We encourage residents to work together to keep sidewalks clear for safe passage and kindly remind neighbors with un-shoveled sidewalks of the City's requirement.  To report a problem, please contact neighborhood services.

Education: Colorado Springs relies on citizen reports to help us identify property owners who need to be informed of sidewalk safety requirements.

Sidewalk Shoveling Safety tips

  • Stretch before you go out. If you go out to shovel snow, do a few stretching exercises to warm up your body. This may prevent injury.
  • Cover your mouth. Protect your lungs from extremely cold air by covering your mouth when outdoors.
  • Avoid overexertion. Cold weather puts an added strain on the heart. Unfamiliar exercise, such as shoveling snow or pushing a car, can bring on a heart attack or make other medical conditions worse. Take frequent rest breaks, and drink plenty of fluids to avoid dehydration.
  • Keep dry. Change wet clothes frequently to prevent a loss of body heat. Wet clothing loses all of its insulating value and transmits heat rapidly.
  • Stay safe. Walk carefully on snowy or icy sidewalks. If using a snow blower, NEVER use your hands to unclog the machine.
  • Maintain an awareness of utilities when shoveling snow. Do not cover fire hydrants with snow when clearing sidewalks and driveways. Do not shovel snow into manholes and catch basins.
  • Offer to help individuals who require special assistance, including seniors and people with disabilities.

 

Fallen tree branches

Please call City Forestry at 385-TREE for downed limbs from city trees. After business hours, please leave a message with your name, address, and zip code and crews will pick up the branches when they are in the area.

For downed trees blocking roadways call 385-ROAD. If it is an emergency, you can call the Colorado Springs Police Department's Dispatch at 719-444-7000.

City Forestry is unable to remove trees or branches from trees on your private property. These are the responsibility of private property owners.  Click for a list of licensed tree services

Trees or branches that have fallen on power lines or transformers should be reported to Colorado Springs Utilities at 448-4800.

Power outages

Find out/Report power outages here

Before a power outage:

  • Fill plastic containers with water, leaving about an inch of space inside each one for the frozen water to expand. Place the containers in the refrigerator and freezer. This chilled or frozen water will help keep food cold for several hours if the power goes out.
  • Medication that requires refrigeration usually can be kept in a closed refrigerator for several hours without a problem
  • Back up computer files and operating systems.
  • Turn off and unplug major appliances and sensitive electric equipment until after power is restored.
  • Purchase a high-quality surge protector for electronic equipment.
  • Locate the manual release for your electric garage door opener and learn how to operate it.
  • Keep a traditional, non-cordless telephone available or plan for alternate communication, including a cell phone, radio or pager
  • Keep your car fuel tank at least half-full because gas stations rely on electricity to power the pumps.
  • Make sure to have extra cash at home because equipment such as automated teller machines (ATMs) may not work during a power outage.
  • Call CSU Line Clearance at 448-4800 if you need tree branches trimmed in or around electric lines.
  • Make arrangements to prepare for unpredictable power outages if you are on electric-powered life support systems by calling Colorado Springs Utilities at (719) 448-4800 and asking about the Life Support Notification Program.

During a power outage

  • Use a flashlight whenever possible rather than candles or kerosene lanterns, which are a fire hazard.
  • Do not use your range or oven to heat your home as this can cause a fire or fatal gas leak.
  • Keep your refrigerator and freezer doors closed as much as possible.
  • Treat each signal as a four-way stop if traffic signals are not working
  • Do not call 911 to ask about the power outage.

After a power outage

  • In the event of a major storm, the status of your utilities may be monitored through the Colorado Springs Utilities (CSU) web page at www.csu.org.
  • Look for damage to an outside metal pipe or tube called a “mast,” that feeds electricity from overhead lines into the meter on your house.
  • This mast is the responsibility of the homeowner and is typically located at the roofline or the side of a home, coming out of the meter.
  • The mast should not be touched – customers can inspect the mast from a safe distance and call a licensed electrician for repairs if it is damaged.
  • Once the mast is repaired by an electrician, CSU can restore power to the home.
  • For additional information on power outages and other utility disruptions, see the Colorado Springs Utilities website at www.csu.org.

 

How to help others

Infants, seniors, and people with paralysis or neuropathy are at increased risk of hypothermia and frostbite. Check on friends, relatives, and neighbors who may need assistance to ensure they are adequately protected from the cold.

Community members that identify someone on the street they believe needs assistance should call the non-emergency dispatch number (719) 444-7000. Call 9-1-1 for a life threatening emergency. The Colorado Springs Police Department can dispatch someone from its Homeless Outreach Team to the location to assess the individual's condition and take appropriate action.

If you suspect a person is suffering from frostbite or hypothermia, bring him or her someplace warm and seek medical help immediately or call 911.

If medical help is unavailable, re-warm the person, starting at the core of their body. Warming arms and legs first can increase circulation of cold blood to the heart, which can lead to heart failure. Use a blanket, or if necessary, your own body heat to warm the person.

Do not give a person suffering frostbite or hypothermia alcohol or caffeine, both of which can worsen the condition. Instead, give the patient a cup of warm broth.

Be a good neighbor and shovel your sidewalk!