Ocean City Officials Urge Homeowners to Winterize

Ocean City Officials Urge Homeowners to Winterize

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Firefighters are responding to calls for leaky and frozen pipes.

By MADDY VITALE

Winter weather, when temperatures dip into the teens, as they have recently, can mean trouble for homeowners. Ocean City officials are urging homeowners to make sure they are prepared.

“We have had a handful of water leaks in the last week and a half,” Fire Chief Jim Smith said in an interview Wednesday. “If you won’t be around, it is helpful to have someone check in on your property so that if there is a leak, damage is as minimal as possible.”

Smith noted that the calls were for both residential and commercial buildings.

The fire department partners with the police department and water company to address the calls. If there is internal damage to the property, the fire department gets called out. If it is, for example, a broken or leaky ground sprinkler or outside shower, police respond. In addition to the water company, gas and electric companies are also notified when needed, Smith said.

“Whether it is an outside shower line or sprinkler systems or the interior of a house, one of our jobs is property conservation, so we can respond, assist and try to locally turn the water off,” Smith explained.

Freezing temperatures can cause equipment such as thermostats to malfunction.

“The cold temperatures wreak havoc on the equipment. Be mindful of it and be smart before you leave your home,” Smith said, noting that people need to make sure they routinely change the batteries to their thermostats.

The winter is shaping up to be a snowy one with temperatures dipping into the teens.

Homeowners also should keep their temperature setting above 55 degrees to prevent pipes from freezing. If you are a seasonal resident, give a key to someone you trust to check on your property, daily, if possible. Even if you are at the residence a couple of days a week, there could be a big freeze. Smith opts for a higher temperature of 60 degrees to be safe.

“A few degrees could make a real difference,” he said.

That difference could mean no leaky pipes versus a gusher inside or outside of the home and damage.

Second homeowners, especially, Smith emphasized, should leave their vanities and other cabinetries open so that the pipes could get some warmth from the room temperature.

“In older homes, if you have exposed pipes in a garage or carport area, try to close it off. The temperature is one thing, but the driving wind will impact it even more,” he said.

Always be mindful of your neighbors, he said. If you live in a condominium complex and you live on the top floor, for example, and you haven’t kept the temperature up above 55 or taken other precautions, your leaky pipes could damage or destroy your neighbor’s property, Smith pointed out.

Smith added that the police department may see ice forming or water running, and that is when the fire department will assist.

With the winter unleashing snow, wind, sleet and big swings in temperatures, the Ocean City Regional Chamber of Commerce also put out some important tips to help people keep their pets and belongings safe.

The Fire Department assists the Police Department and responds to leaky and frozen pipes, among other weather-related emergencies.

Here are some of the tips the Chamber provided in an email blast:

  • Check on neighboring homes for frozen pipes.
  • Stay indoors and off the roads as much as possible.
  • Report any loss of heat or hot water immediately.
  • If your home lacks heat, get to a warm place and wear extra layers of dry, loose-fitting clothing, hats and gloves to help stay warm.
  • Never use a gas stove to heat your home.
  • If a carbon monoxide detector goes off in your home, call 911, quickly open a nearby window, and go outside for fresh air immediately.
  • Seniors should take extra care outdoors to avoid slips and falls from icy conditions.
  • Keep pets indoors and warm. Don’t leave dogs or cats outdoors when the temperature drops.

If your pipes burst, first turn off the water at the source. In Ocean City, you can call the non-emergency police number at 609-399-9111 to have Fire Department personnel dispatched to cut off the water supply leading to your home. Cut off electricity to any area of the house damaged by water.