23 Winter Weather Tips for Your Home, Car and Pets

View Comments ()



    Getty Images
    (Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images)

    Below-zero temperatures and wind gusts could create wind chills of minus 20 degrees in the D.C. area Tuesday morning.

    Tuesday morning may be one of the coldest mornings in 20 years. Single digits and sub-zero temperatures will be widespread with wind chills in the -5° to -15° range. A wind chill advisory has been issued for the area from 6 p.m. Monday until 6 p.m. Tuesday.

    Here's are some helpful tips to help you cope with this dangerously cold weather at home, in your car or when caring for your pets:


    1. Stay indoors if possible. If you must go outdoors, officials urge you dress warmly and wear loose-fitting, layered, lightweight clothing. Wear a scarf over your mouth to protect your lungs.
    2. Watch for signs of hypothermia, including uncontrollable shivering, weak pulse, disorientation, incoherence and drowsiness, and frostbite, including gray, white or yellow skin discoloration, numbness and waxy feeling skin.
    3. Have safe emergency heating equipment in your home, as well as a flashlight, portable radio and three days' worth of food in case the power goes out.
    4. To prevent frozen pipes, State Farm suggests letting your hot and cold faucets drip overnight and open cabinet doors to allow heat to get to uninsulated pipes under sinks on exterior walls.
    5. Locate the water shut-off valve in your home in advance of a water emergency, so you know where to go if a pipe bursts, DC Water spokesperson Pamela Mooring advised.
    6. Disconnect garden hoses and, if practical, use an indoor valve to shut off and drain water from pipes leading to outside faucets.
    7. If you are going away for an extended period of time, be sure to maintain adequate heat inside your home at no lower than 55 degrees.
    8. Do not place a space heater within three feet of anything combustible.
    9. Go ahead and program your local utility contact information into your cell phone now, before you need them.

      Important Utility Numbers include:
      Pepco: 1-877-737-2662
      Baltimore Gas and Electric (BG&E): 1-877-778-2222 or 1-800-685-0123
      SMECO: 1-877-747-6326 or 1-888-440-3311
      Washington Gas: 1-800-752-7520
      Washington Suburban Sanitary Commission (WSSC): 1-800-828-4002


    1. If your car battery is three years old or older, it is more likely to fail as temperatures drops, according to AAA. Never attempt to charge or jump-start a battery that is frozen, as it may rupture or explode.
    2. Never warm up a vehicle in an enclosed area, such as a garage.
    3. Make certain your tires are properly inflated.
    4. Keep your gas tank at least half full to avoid gas line freeze-up.
    5. If possible, avoid using your parking brake in cold, rainy and snowy weather.
    6. Wintry weather can contribute to the deterioration of your windshield wipers. Worn blades streak and impair vision, critical during winter months. AAA says wiper blades should be replaced every year.
    7. Keep your washer fluid topped-off with winter formula fluid so it won’t freeze. Many of your car’s fluids should be checked once a month.


    1. Keep your pets inside. Dogs and cats left outside can freeze, get injured or become lost.
    2. If there are outdoor cats in your area, bang on the hood of your car before starting the engine to give them a chance to escape.
    3. The ASPCA suggests wiping your dog's legs and stomach down when they come in from snowy or icy conditions. Dogs can ingest salt, antifreeze and other chemical when licking their paws. 20
    4. Never leave your pet inside a car unattended.
    5. The Fairfax County Animal Shelter is also offering temporary housing from the cold for cats, dogs or small companion animals. If you or someone you know needs to utilize this service, call the shelter at 703-324-0208 or e-mail FCPDPetResources@fairfaxcounty.gov.


    1. Be on the lookout for homeless individuals, who could get hypothermia as temperatures dip into the teens overnight. If you see someone in the D.C. area who needs shelter or warmer clothing, call the following numbers:
           - The District - 202-535-7252
           - Arlington County, Va. - 703-527-4077
           - Prince George's County, Md. - 888-731-0999
           - Maryland Crisis Hotline - 301-662-2255
           - Montgomery County, Md. - 240-777-4000
           - Fairfax County - 703-691-2131

      Those seeking emergency shelter in Frederick County, Md., can go to one of three shelters. The Religious Coalition for Emergency Human Needs will open their shelter at 5:30 p.m. Monday and Tuesday. The shelter, located at 27 DeGrange Street, has 80 beds and provides shelter to both men and women.

      The Frederick Rescue Mission, located at 419 West South Street, will operate a day shelter, The shelter will serve breakfast and lunch on Monday and Tuesday between 7 a.m. and 5 p.m.

      The Frederick Community Action Agency at 100 South Market Street will operate on its usual schedule. A free meal will be provided from 5:30 p.m. 6:30 p.m.

    2. Several warming centers will be open throughout the region to help residents cope with blustery temperatures. In Prince George's County, the following buildings will be warming centers:

    Southern Regional Technology and Recreation Complex
    7007 Bock Road, Fort Washington, MD 20744
    301-749-4160, TTY 301-203-6030, fax 301-749-4161

    Suitland Community Park School Center
    5600 Regency Lane
    Forestville, MD 20747
    301-736-3518; TTY 301-203-6030

    South Bowie Community Center Park
    1717 Pittsfield Lane
    Bowie, MD 20716
    301-249-1622; TTY 301-218-6768

    Seat Pleasant Activity Center
    5720 Addison Road
    Seat Pleasant, MD 20743
    301-773-6685; TTY 301-218-6768

    Kentland Community Center Park
    2411 Pinebrook Avenue
    Landover, MD 20785
    301-386-2278; TTY 301-445-4512

    Deerfield Run Community Center
    13000 Laurel-Bowie Road
    Laurel, MD 20708
    301-953-7882; TTY 301-445-4512

    The City of Manassas is opening two warming shelters:

    Grace United Methodist Church
    9750 Wellington Rd.
    Open until 7 a.m. Wednesday

    Osbourn High School
    7005 Tudor Lane
    Closed at noon Tuesday but will reopen if necessary

    In Charles County, the following buildings will also operate as warming centers from Jan. 6 to Jan. 8:

    Capital Clubhouse
    3033 Waldorf Market Place, Waldorf
    Open 8 a.m. to 9 p.m.

    Department of Community Services
    8190 Port Tobacco Road, Port Tobacco
    Open 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.

    Port Tobacco Community Center
    8190 Port Tobacco Road, Port Tobacco
    Open 6 p.m. to 9 p.m.

    Nanjemoy Community Center
    4375 Port Tobacco Road, Nanjemoy
    Open 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.

    Charles County Public Library
    All branches open Friday, 1 p.m. to 5 p.m.
    All branches open 9 a.m. – 5 p.m.

    Richard R. Clark Senior Center
    1210 Charles St., La Plata
    Open  8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.

    Anne Arundel County is opening seven senior activity centers as warming centers.

    The county's Department of Aging and Disabilities says the centers will be open Tuesday during normal business hours.

    The department's transportation program will accept calls starting at 8 a.m. to transport county residents of all ages to warming centers.

    Centers will be open in Annapolis, Arnold, Odenton, Pasadena, Glen Burnie and Edgewater.

    Get the latest weather from NBCWashington.com:

    Download our NEW free weather apps for iPad and iPhone. You can also follow us on Twitter and Facebook, and sign up for our e-mail newsletters.

    Follow NBCWashington for the latest anywhere, anytime: iPhone/iPad App | Facebook | Twitter | Google+ | Instagram | RSS | Text Alerts | Email Alerts