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It's co-o-o-l-d out there! City offers reminders about dealing with the bitter cold and snow

Due to the bitter cold temperatures and the potential for more snow in the forecast, the City of Iowa City wants to remind residents of the potential dangers of these low temperatures and what citizens can do to protect and assist others in these conditions:

There have already been reports of homes experiencing frozen and broken water pipes. As the temperature declines, the potential for this type of damage increases. Residents should take the following precautions:

• Know where your water shut-off valve is located.

• Do not shut off access to heat in areas of your home that contain plumbing or water fixtures. Keep doors open to bathrooms, kitchens, and laundry facilities. Open the doors to cabinets under the kitchen or bathroom sinks, especially those located on the north side of the house, to expose the plumbing to warmer air inside the house.

• If your home has unheated areas, wrap pipes with heat tape or cover them with pipe insulation.

• If you plan to be away from home for an extended period of time, arrange for someone to check your house or apartment.

• If your plumbing does freeze, try to thaw it naturally by turning up the thermostat in your home and opening doors and cupboards to circulate warm air. Use a hair dryer or another source of indirect heat to help thaw pipes if necessary.

• If your water pipes or water meter freeze and break, or if you notice water running down the street that may indicate a water main break, contact the Water Division at their 24-hour emergency number at 319/356-5166.

• For additional information on freezing pipes, see

Deep snow can make fire hydrants hard to locate in an emergency. If a fire hydrant is located adjacent to your property, clear the snow away two feet in each direction to allow the Fire and Water Departments easy access. In case of an accident in which a fire hydrant is hit by a vehicle, call the Water Division at 319/356-5166.

Check to make sure that the storm drain located near your property is not clogged, and shovel the leaves and/or snow away, if possible, to keep the storm drain open to accommodate melting snow and water. This will reduce the risk of having melting snow refreeze when temperatures drop. For assistance clearing snow from storm drains, contact the Streets Division at 319/356-5181.

Property owners are responsible for clearing snow and ice from sidewalks adjacent to their property within 24 hours after the end of a snowfall. The full width of the sidewalk must be cleared. Residents who see a sidewalk that has not been cleared may contact the City via ICGovXpress at or call 319/356-5152. Note the specific address of the property, and be ready to provide that information. For more information on snow removal from sidewalks, visit

Snow and ice that is shoveled or that accumulates in crosswalks makes it difficult and dangerous for many residents, including schoolchildren, the elderly, and people who are mobility-impaired or in wheelchairs. When you get to the end of your sidewalk, please keep shoveling for an extra couple of feet to clear the crosswalks and curb ramps to allow safe passage for everyone.

In these bitterly cold temperatures, even pets that normally live outside should be brought in to stay warm and avoid frostbite. When dealing with livestock, including backyard chickens, make sure that the animals are as well-protected from the cold and winds as possible. Keep them in an enclosed shelter and provide extra straw or other protection. Animals also need to be provided plenty of fresh water in these conditions.

For more information, contact Carol Sweeting, City of Iowa City Public Works Public Information Coordinator, at or 319/356-5164 or 319/541-2385. Questions regarding animal care should be directed to Misha Goodman at 319/356-5295 or


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