BBB Tips on Preparing for Cold Weather Emergencies

  
     
January 13, 2014

Pittsburgh, PA - January 13, 2014 - The recent cold streak that produced record-low temperatures in parts of the country have kept auto service stations and home contractors and restoration businesses in Western PA especially busy. Seeing the effect the bitter cold temperatures have played on both homes and cars, with frozen pipes and dead batteries, it’s important to be prepared for winter weather emergencies in anticipation of the next winter blast.

“We are not even one month into the winter season so homeowners and drivers should take time now to prepare and be knowledgeable of what action to take in the event of an emergency,” said Warren King, president of the Better Business Bureau of Western PA.

Having an auto service center you know and trust if presented with car troubles in the cold or snowy weather is recommended. You can also search for BBB Accredited auto mechanics on bbb.org. In addition, it’s helpful to have a heating company you trust in the event your furnace needs repair from the increased demand endured by prolonged cold temperatures. If the company suggests you need an entirely new furnace or any other large home improvement purchase, you should seek bids from several contractors and be wary of companies pushing products with high-pressure sales tactics.  

Prolonged freezing temperatures can also pose risks for frozen and/or burst pipes. If this happens to you:

  • If possible, solicit bids from several contractors. Dishonest companies may attempt to price gouge or mark up prices on their services due to high demand in the winter.  

  • Call your insurance agent to file a claim, you also may need to take pictures of the damage.

  • Ask for the company’s insurance and licensing information to make sure it’s up to date and valid.

  • Review contracts carefully and make sure all promises are included in writing before signing.

  • Never pay the full amount for the service until completed and you are satisfied with the work; don’t pay with cash.

Other cold weather tips to keep in mind:

  • Consider insulating heating ducts and vacuum dust and dirt from vents. Plug holes and cracks in your home.

  • Check to make sure smoke and carbon monoxide detectors are functioning. Units should be replaced every ten years.

  • Use space heaters and generators properly. Make sure there are no combustible items near the equipment, such as blankets.  

  • Drain outside faucets and remove hoses to prevent freezing pipes.

  • Check your vehicle’s coolant level, tire pressure and defrosters.

Keeping important supplies and an emergency kit in both your car and home is one way consumers can prepare for an unexpected winter circumstance. Water bottles, non-perishable foods, first aid supplies, batteries, a battery-operated radio, candles, and matches should be kept in your home. A similar kit for your vehicle should include blankets, a shovel, ice-scraper and snow-melting material.  

For more winter safety tips or to find a company in your neighborhood that you can trust, visit bbb.org.

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