It's not too late to get ready for winter

KUSA - The first snowfall of the season always seems to catch some Coloradans off-guard, especially when warmer temperatures bookend the storm.

Whether you forgot to blow out sprinklers or spaced on space heater safety, 9NEWS reporters Noel Brennan and Victoria Sanchez found out that it’s not too late to prepare for more wintery weather.

Sprinkler Systems
Answers from Chris Willis, president of Colorado Total Maintenance

When should you blow out your sprinkler system?

“Typically, we blow out sprinkler systems the latter part of October to Thanksgiving.”

How do you protect your sprinkler system from the cold and snow?

Willis explained all you need is an old towel, a plastic bag and duct tape. Start with the towel. That will be your insulation. Wrap the towel over the top of the backflow valve. Place the plastic bag over the towel and wrap it in place with the duct tape. That should keep your backflow valve dry until you’re ready to blow out your sprinkler system.

What happens if you don’t cover your backflow valve?

Plastic pieces inside the backflow prevention device called the bonnet and poppet can freeze and cause big problems.

“Whenever there’s moisture that gets in there, it will freeze and then blow and before you know it you have Old Faithful. Typically, in the spring and fall, these are most of the calls we get. ‘Oh, my God I’ve got a water fountain out the side of my house.’”

Willis said you can also drain down your sprinkler system. In that case, you don’t need to cover your backflow device.

“You can go in your basement and you can turn off your water on the inside and then drain down the backflow so it has no water in it.”

Space Heater Safety
Answers from Einar Jensen, South Metro Fire Rescue Risk Reduction Specialist

Are there any precautions to take when using a space heater?

"It’s easy to forget what to do. So make sure we're plugging those space heaters directly into the wall, not into surge protectors, not into extension cords. We want to make sure the space heater is put in a place where there's a three-foot moat around there. So there's nothing combustible: no curtains, no bedding, no clothes, no furniture."

Are there some tips for parents when it comes to protecting children from space heaters?

"The biggest tip I have for you and anyone with a baby in their house: We need a three-foot kid-free zone around space heaters. You can put fencing, the fencing you would put above a stairwell to keep the baby off the stairs. Buy some of those, put those little fences around the space heater. With that kid-free zone, there’s no chance of the baby actually touching the heating element.”

What happens if a pet tips over the space heater?

"If a heater is newer and a dog or a cat or a human knocks it over, then that heater should turn off. It's called tip protection. If you heaters don’t have tip protection, it’s time to upgrade.”

Carbon Monoxide Detectors
Answers from Einar Jensen, South Metro Fire Rescue Risk Reduction Specialist

Why is important to check on your carbon monoxide detector this time of year?

“Carbon monoxide is a byproduct of fire. So we see it in the wintertime more often because that’s when people are turning on their furnaces, using their hot water heaters more. But it is important to know that carbon monoxide can occur in summer. We don’t think about it with car engines or lawnmower engines, even with generators on a boat or an RV. Winter is when we think about it most but this is one of those gases we should think about throughout the year.”

Do you have to have a detector to warn about carbon monoxide?

“Carbon monoxide is colorless, odorless, and it will kill us. By having one of these alarms outside our sleeping areas, it will alert us to the carbon monoxide’s presence.”

Trees and Flowers
Answers from Tony Hahn, Swingle Lawn, Tree and Landscape

What should plants be covered with to protect them from the snow?

“Don’t cover them with plastic. Because the plastic will get colder than the air and that will actually burn the foliage. I covered mine with old sheets and drop cloths --- something cotton. And they’ll be fine.

What if the plants are now covered in snow?

"Well, the snow tends to insulate. So with a good four, five inches of snow, probably going to get some insulation so they're going to be okay."

What can people do to help protect trees from the heavy, wet snow before it comes?

“If people work to reduce the weight through pruning, that’s what helps.”

What can people do now to prevent branches from breaking?

“A good tool right now is one of those telescopic painter’s poles where you can reach up higher and knock the snow off.”

Is it too late to prepare trees for when winter comes?

“No, better late than never. Being proactive, and I’ve learned this over the three decades of doing tree work in Colorado, is be proactive. Think about doing your tree work in July and August after all the growth is finished for the year. Don’t wait until we get the snow to worry about it.”

© 2017 KUSA-TV


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