Brrr! Tips, tricks to survive Valley cold snap

Posted at 1:50 PM, Dec 16, 2015
and last updated 2015-12-16 15:50:11-05

It doesn’t freeze in the Valley very often, but when it does, there are simple steps you can take to protect your home and your vehicle from potential issues:


It seems like just yesterday, we were seeing all those heat-related emergency calls. Now, we’re on the other end of the spectrum. The Phoenix Fire Department is starting to respond to more house calls for chimney fires, Christmas tree fires, and heaters.

Christmas trees

  • Keep those Christmas trees at least 4-6 feet clear from any flame or heat source.
  • Don’t crowd the power outlets with plugs.


  • Kitchen fire calls skyrocket this time of year. In fact, All-State insurance says they see a 170% increase in claims from smoke damage.
  • Make sure everything is serviced and cleaned before the busy holiday season.


  • Be sure to place space heaters away from flammable items.
  • It’s smart to service your HVAC unit before turning on the heater for the first time in months.

“Having proper smoke alarms in place, having CO monitors, having an exit plan, making sure you communicate as a family and understand it’s going to be cold outside, so your pets are going to feel that impact as well,” said Captain Aaron Ernsberger with the Phoenix Fire Department.


Most of the time, our sub-tropical and citrus plants thrive in the Valley, but just like us, they’re not used to the freezing temperatures.

  • Cover plants and bushes
  • Make sure the cover reaches the ground to trap heat inside.
  • The key is using the right kind of material. Nurseries sell specially-engineered sheets that keep the plants warm while allowing light inside.
  • If you would rather use a sheet or blanket, make sure it’s lightweight and that you remove it in the morning so the plant can see the sun.
  • Use a liquid polymer sold at nurseries and grocery stores. The spray gives an extra five degrees of protection.


Brian McQuistion with Plumbing Masters says as soon as those temps dip below freezing a couple nights in a row, his phone starts ringing off the hook. Pipes burst and split, and have to be cut off and replaced.

Whenever you see exposed piping outside, wrap it with pillow cases or sheets and duct tape them tight.

“If you ever run into a problem where you can’t cover it, you can always crack the hose bib a little bit and let the water run through it, and that way it’s got a constant flow,” said McQuistion.


  • Tire pressure changes - Every 10 degree drop in temperature changes the pressure by at least a pound.
  • Check your tire pressure to avoid a blowout.
  • New wiper blades (storms and heat may have worn them down)
  • Top off your fluids - anti freeze, windshield wipers, check oil
  • Make sure you have an emergency kit in your trunk if you plan on traveling to the snow.
  • Jumper cables, ice scraper, protein bars, water, extra phone charger.
  • Blanket to keep warm or to kneel on the change tire.
  • Kitty litter for under a stuck tire in snow.

“Do a good thorough brake check, spend the money, it’s worth it,” said Justin Armstrong with Hi Tech Car Care in Phoenix. “You want to make sure your ABS system works because if you're going to slide on ice, engineers don’t know a whole lot more other than, ‘pump your breaks’ from the 60s, that just doesn’t work anymore.”