NEW ORLEANS — Freezing temperatures can cause a lot of costly house problems if simple measures aren’t taken ahead of time.

In order to protect your home and your family, there are things you should be doing now to prepare.

One thing that’s a must, is wrapping your water lines to prevent them from freezing.

Those pipes are outside your home or in the garage. If you have a kitchen or bathroom sink on an exterior wall, it never hurts to wrap those lines as well. Things like pipe insulation, heat tape and other helpful items can be bought at any local hardware store. Newspapers and towels also work well, just make sure it’s wrapped and taped tight.

LATEST FORECAST: Thunderstorms & still uncertainty with cold blast next week

Another home remedy is keeping a steady drip going which can also help keep pipes from freezing.

As temperatures drop, heaters turn on, which could make your energy bill go up. To help save you money:

  • Close doors and windows, and seal or cover spots under them where air may escape.
  • Rotate ceiling fans clockwise so cold air doesn’t blow down on you.
    If possible, keep your thermostat at 68 degrees (since every degree above that can increase your bill by about 3%, and nobody wants that.
  • Utilize the sun, open blinds and curtains and let the sun in, which will help keep a space warm.

“It will inevitably lead to fires and fire deaths, we see it every time,” said Louisiana Fire Marshal, Butch Browning.

However, with these preparations comes a warning.

“Listen, the most common cause of heater fires in our state is the portable space heater,” he said. “Plug that space heater directly into the wall, that’s the safest way to do it.”

Also, never leave space heaters unattended, and make sure you turn them off when you leave the room. Another thing to remember is keep them clear of anything that can burn.

One final tip, remember to check your smoke alarms. Because if something does happen, that may just save you and your family’s life.

“If you don’t have a working smoke alarm, you have less than a 35% chance of waking up before you’re overcome by smoke,” Browning said. “And if you do wake up, you may be disoriented. Even with a working smoke alarm, you have about 60 seconds to stand up and walk out.”

If you find yourself with frozen pipes, the American Red Cross has some suggestions on how to remedy the situation:

  • Keep the faucet open because as you treat the pipe and the freeze starts to melt, water will start to flow. Running water through the pipe will help melt ice in the pipe.
  • Apply heat to the section of the pipe by using an electric heating pad wrapped around the pipe, an electric hair dryer, a portable space heater (though try and keep it away from flammable materials). You can also use a towel that’s been soaked in hot water.
  • Apply the heat until full water pressure is back.
  • If the frozen area is not accessible, call a plumber.
  • If one pipe freezes, it’s possible others have as well. So be sure to check all pipes.

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