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How to protect your backflow device from freeze damage
A backflow device is a one-way valve that isolates water in the landscape irrigation system to keep it from mingling with the water inside your home and the municipal service lines. This protects the drinking water supply from contamination that could enter through sprinkler heads, bubblers or drip emitters. A properly installed backflow device typically protrudes from the ground in some out-of-the-way area of the landscape.
Because the backflow assembly protrudes from the ground, it is the most likely part of your home plumbing to be damaged by freezing. When water freezes inside the backflow device or the pipes connected to it, it may rupture and lose up to 2,000 gallons of water per hour. Repairing a damaged backflow device can cost several hundred dollars and the spray and flow can freeze on streets and sidewalks, creating a safety hazard.
Since extreme freezes are brief and infrequent in the Las Vegas region, you can temporarily protect your backflow assembly using common household materials. Or, if you prefer, you can purchase commercial pipe insulation and a protective cover at any home improvement store. Cost for these materials begins at about $35.
Pipes under soil are very unlikely to freeze because the soil has high thermal mass and retains heat. This residual heat from the ground is what we’ll capture to protect your backflow device.
1. Locate your backflow device. You may turn off the supply valve just beneath the device, but do not close both valves (if freezing does occur, closed both valves make it more likely that expanding ice will break the valve). Your irrigation system will not operate until the valve is re-opened.
2. Loosely wrap old towels, blankets, commercial insulation, foam or other similar materials over the assembly and pipes, making sure there are no openings. Thicker materials and/or multiple layers will reduce cold air infiltration and heat loss. Never seal off the ports or the opening under the top cap (hood).
3. Cover the insulating material with an enclosure, such as a 5-gallon bucket. In a pinch, you may use a cardboard box with all of the seams taped seams. Press the bottom of the enclosure firm against the ground.
This approach reduces infiltration of cold air and retains heat that radiates from the ground below. If you can’t find an enclosure to fit over the top of your insulating material, a heavy duty garbage bag is better than nothing. For extreme or prolonged cold, consider adding a heat source, such as a string of incandescent holiday lights beneath the enclosure. Keep in mind that the older-style incandescent lights produce more heat than the new, LED versions. Another heat source can be a low-wattage (5-25 watt) incandescent placed bulb inside of a metal can beneath the enclosure. If you’re using lights, be sure to follow the manufacturer’s directions for safe use and assure that all cords and fixtures are approved for outdoor use.
If you experience a broken backflow device, you may stop the flow of water by closing the supply valve where the pipe comes into the bottom of the device. If you used lights to produce heat, be sure to turn off power to the fixture before attempting to stem the flow of water.
And one more thing… since most of our homes are slab foundations, there’s no need to drip water to protect pipes. It does not get cold enough to freeze pipes underground. You should, however, disconnect your garden hoses from outdoor faucets.
Be Prepared For An Emergency
The city of Las Vegas is joining in a nationwide effort to raise awareness about how important it is to be prepared for any kind of emergency.
Make sure you and your family are prepared for any situation by following a few simple tips.
Prepare An Emergency Kit
This kit should include a number of supplies in order to survive for at least 3 days if an emergency should occur. These items include, among other things, water, food, a first aid kit, a battery operated radio, flashlight and extra batteries. A list of suggested items can be found on the ready.gov Web site , but individuals are urged to assess their own situations for any unique needs.
Make A Plan
Make sure you have a family communications plan. Have an evacuation plan as well as a shelter-in-place plan. If there are places that you frequent such as daycare or school, be knowledgeable about their particular plans as well. Ready.gov includes several sample templates that you can use to create your own communications plan.
Be informed and knowledgeable about the types of emergencies that can occur in your area. Furthermore, learn about the various emergency plans that are in place by your local and state government. This includes being prepared for both natural and man-made disasters.
Get involved in citizen groups such as Citizen Corps and learn helpful skills such as first aid and CPR.
Monsoon Season Safety Information (July – September)
Floods are one of the most common hazards in the United States, however not all floods are alike. Some floods develop slowly, while others such as flash floods, can develop in just a few minutes and without visible signs of rain. Flash floods are common in Southern Nevada. In the summer monsoon months, July through September, expect sudden downpours and rapid flash flooding, even on sunny days. Remember that flash floods may happen in the Las Vegas Valley even if it hasn’t rained due to the nearby mountain runoff.
Flash floods can occur within a few minutes or hours of excessive rainfall, a dam or levee failure, or a sudden release of water held by an ice jam. Flash floods often have a dangerous wall of roaring water carrying rocks, mud and other debris. Overland flooding, the most common type of flooding event typically occurs when waterways such as rivers or streams overflow their banks as a result of rainwater or a possible levee breach and cause flooding in surrounding areas. It can also occur when rainfall or snowmelt exceeds the capacity of underground pipes, or the capacity of streets and drains designed to carry flood water away from urban areas.
Get more information and download the Flood Spot app from the Clark County Regional Flood Control District at http://www.befloodsafe.com/ You can also follow @CLVAlerts on Twitter for updated warnings and storm information or use #nvfloodspotting on social media sites.
To prepare for a flood, you should:
Build an emergency kit and make a family communications plan.
Avoid building in a floodplain unless you elevate and reinforce your home.
Elevate the furnace, water heater and electric panel in your home if you live in an area that has a high flood risk.
Consider installing "check valves" to prevent flood water from backing up into the drains of your home.
If feasible, construct barriers to stop floodwater from entering the building and seal walls in basements with waterproofing compounds.
The following are important points to remember when driving in flood conditions:
Six inches of water will reach the bottom of most passenger cars causing loss of control and possible stalling.
A foot of water will float many vehicles
Two feet of rushing water can carry away most vehicles including sport utility vehicles (SUV’s) and pick-ups.
Do not attempt to drive through a flooded road. The depth of water is not always obvious. The road bed may be washed out under the water, and you could be stranded or trapped.
Do not drive around a barricade. Barricades are there for your protection. Turn around and go the other way.
Do not try to take short cuts. They may be blocked. Stick to designated evacuation routes.
Be especially cautious driving at night when it is harder to recognize flood dangers.
If a flood is likely in your area, you should:
Listen to the radio or television for information.
Be aware that flash flooding can occur. If there is any possibility of a flash flood, move immediately to higher ground. Do not wait for instructions to move.
Be aware of stream, drainage channels, canyons and other areas known to flood suddenly. Flash floods can occur in these areas with or without typical warnings such as rain clouds or heavy rain.
If you must prepare to evacuate, you should do the following:
Secure your home. If you have time, bring in outdoor furniture. Move essential items to an upper floor.
Turn off utilities at the main switches or valves if instructed to do so. Disconnect electrical appliances. Do not touch electrical equipment if you are wet or standing in water.
If you have to leave your home, remember these evacuation tips:
Do not walk through moving water. Six inches of moving water can make you fall. If you have to walk in water, walk where the water is not moving. Use a stick to check the firmness of the ground in front of you.
Do not drive into flooded areas. If floodwaters rise around your car, abandon the car and move to higher ground, when water is not moving or not more than a few inches deep. You and the vehicle can be swept away quickly. If your vehicle is trapped in rapidly moving water, stay in the vehicle. If the water is rising inside the vehicle, seek refuge on the roof.
Do not camp or park your vehicle along streams, rivers or creeks, particularly during threatening conditions.
Resolve to be #Prepared2014
Roughly half of all Americans make New Year’s resolutions. In 2014, FEMA and the Ad Council are encouraging them to resolve to be ready for potential emergencies by committing to make preparedness a year-round family activity. Visit http://www.ready.gov/prepared2014 to see how you can prepare your family.
Staying Safe in the Summer Heat
In recent years, excessive heat has caused more deaths than all other weather events, including floods. A heat wave is a prolonged period of excessive heat, generally 10 degrees or more above average, often combined with excessive humidity. You will likely hear weather forecasters use these terms when a heat wave is predicted in your community:
- Excessive Heat Watch - Conditions are favorable for an excessive heat event to meet or exceed local Excessive Heat Warning criteria in the next 24 to 72 hours.
- Excessive Heat Warning - Heat Index values are forecasting to meet or exceed locally defined warning criteria for at least 2 days (daytime highs=105-110° Fahrenheit).
- Heat Advisory - Heat Index values are forecasting to meet locally defined advisory criteria for 1 to 2 days (daytime highs=100-105° Fahrenheit)
Preparing for a Heat Wave
- Listen to local weather forecasts and stay aware of upcoming temperature changes.
- Be aware of both the temperature and the heat index. The heat index is the temperature the body feels when the effects of heat and humidity are combined. Exposure to direct sunlight can increase the heat index by as much as 15° F.
- Discuss heat safety precautions with members of your household. Have a plan for wherever you spend time— home, work and school—and prepare for the possibility of power outages.
- Check the contents of your emergency disaster kit (bug out bag) in case a power outage occurs.
- Know those in your neighborhood who are elderly, young, sick or overweight. They are more likely to become victims of excessive heat and may need help.
- If you do not have air conditioning, choose places you could go to for relief from the heat during the warmest part of the day (schools, libraries, theaters, malls).
- Be aware that people living in urban areas may be at greater risk from the effects of a prolonged heat wave than are people living in rural areas.
- Get trained in First Aid to learn how to treat heat-related emergencies.
- Ensure that your animals’ needs for water and shade are met.
Responding Appropriately During a Heat Wave
- Listen to a NOAA (National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration) Weather Radio for critical updates from the National Weather Service (NWS).
- Never leave children or pets alone in enclosed vehicles.
- Stay hydrated by drinking plenty of fluids even if you do not feel thirsty. Avoid drinks with caffeine or alcohol.
- Eat small meals and eat more often.
- Avoid extreme temperature changes.
- Wear loose-fitting, lightweight, light-colored clothing. Avoid dark colors because they absorb the sun’s rays.
- Slow down, stay indoors and avoid strenuous exercise during the hottest part of the day.
- Postpone outdoor games and activities.
- Use a buddy system when working in excessive heat.
- Take frequent breaks if you must work outdoors.
- Check on family, friends and neighbors who do not have air conditioning, who spend much of their time alone or who are more likely to be affected by the heat.
- Check on your animals frequently to ensure that they are not suffering from the heat.
How to Treat Heat-Related Illnesses
Heat cramps are muscular pains and spasms that usually occur in the legs or abdomen. Heat cramps are often an early sign that the body is having trouble with the heat.
- Get the person to a cooler place and have him or her rest in a comfortable position. Lightly stretch the affected muscle and gently massage the area.
- Give an electrolyte-containing fluid, such as a commercial sports drink, fruit juice or milk. Water may also be given. Do not give the person salt tablets.
Heat exhaustion is a more severe condition than heat cramps. Heat exhaustion often affects athletes, firefighters, construction workers and factory workers. It also affects those wearing heavy clothing in a hot, humid environment.
- Signs of heat exhaustion include cool, moist, pale, ashen or flushed skin; headache; nausea; dizziness; weakness; and exhaustion.
- Move the person to a cooler environment with circulating air. Remove or loosen as much clothing as possible and apply cool, wet cloths or towels to the skin. Fanning or spraying the person with water also can help. If the person is conscious, give small amounts of a cool fluid such as a commercial sports drink or fruit juice to restore fluids and electrolytes. Milk or water may also be given. Give about 4 ounces of fluid every 15 minutes.
- If the person’s condition does not improve or if he or she refuses water, has a change in consciousness, or vomits, call 9-1-1 or the local emergency number.
Heat stroke is a life-threatening condition that usually occurs by ignoring the signals of heat exhaustion. Heat stroke develops when the body systems are overwhelmed by heat and begin to stop functioning.
- Signs of heat stroke include extremely high body temperature, red skin which may be dry or moist; changes in consciousness; rapid, weak pulse; rapid, shallow breathing; confusion; vomiting; and seizures.
- Heat stroke is life-threatening. Call 9-1-1 or the local emergency number immediately.
- Preferred method: Rapidly cool the body by immersing the person up to the neck in cold water, if possible OR douse or spray the person with cold water.
- Sponge the person with ice water-doused towels over the entire body, frequently rotating the cold, wet towels.
- Cover the person with bags of ice.
- If you are not able to measure and monitor the person’s temperature, apply rapid cooling methods for 20 minutes or until the person’s condition improves.
Earthquake Preparedness - Join The Great Nevada Shakeout Oct. 15, 2015!
Wireless Emergency Alerts
Join thousands throughout the state of Nevada for the Great Nevada Shakeout at 10:15 a.m. on Thursday, Oct. 15. It’s an annual opportunity to practice how to be safer during big earthquakes.
Recommended earthquake safety actions Earthquake tips for those with disabilities
Many cellular phone customers will soon start to receive Wireless Emergency Alerts (WEA). These are public safety text messages from federal, state or local officials and are provided for free through most major wireless companies. The service includes warning messages issued by the National Weather Service as well as AMBER Alerts and other EAS or public safety messages. Read more …
Sign Up To Receive Emergency Alerts
Southern Nevada cities and Clark County have launched a new emergency alert website that allows residents, businesses and visitors to receive free emergency alerts via their cellular phone and e-mail. Sign-up is quick and easy. Visit https://sonevada.onthealert.com/ and enter up to three phone numbers and two e-mail addresses. You can also choose what kind of alert you want to receive including extreme temperatures, flash flooding, earthquakes, air quality advisories, winter storms and hazmat incidents.
Earthquake Preparedness And Safety
Earthquakes can strike at any time without warning. The best way to be prepared for an earthquake is to educate yourself with safety tips on what to do before, during and after the event.
Emergency Preparedness in Las Vegas
You should routinely review your state of personal emergency preparedness by ensuring the following:
1). Have a family disaster plan including a pre-determined meeting place if separated from your loved ones. Review this plan with everyone in your family.
2). Have a family communications plan. In case you can't get in touch with your family members pre-designate a person for everyone to call and check-in to let them know you're okay and where you are. Preferably this pre-designated person should reside out of the local area.
3). Have an emergency preparedness kit including non-perishable foods, water, medications, and basic necessities. Remember to include any required specialty items for infants, elderly persons and your pets. You should have enough supplies to sustain yourself and your family members for 72-hours.
4). Severe weather/flash flooding can occur with little forecasted notice in Las Vegas. Be smart and remain alert for changing weather conditions. Avoid low-lying areas if it starts to rain, seek higher ground. Go indoors if you hear thunder or see lightning. Never drive vehicles through flooded roadways.
5). Sandbags. When rain and thunderstorms occur in Las Vegas people will often call the city looking for sandbags. If you think you might need to sandbag doorways and other areas around your home or business you should do it before it starts raining. It's usually too late to sandbag once flooding starts. In the city of Las Vegas empty sandbags are available at both the east and west service centers. Piles of sand for public access are located at the east and west service centers. People should bring their own shovels to fill the bags.
Northwest Service Center is located at 2900 Ronemus Drive (Cheyenne @ Buffalo)
East Service Center is located at the corner of N. Mojave Road and Bonanza Road
# # #
If you believe you have any information on suspicious activity that would relate to a terrorist attack, please contact the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department by calling 3-1-1 or the local FBI office at 385-1281.
For police, fire and medical emergencies, please call 9-1-1.
|Las Vegas Emergency Management
|Las Vegas Fire and Rescue Headquarters
|Clark County Emergency Management
|North Las Vegas Emergency Management
|Henderson Emergency Management
|Emergency Road Conditions
|Southern Nevada Health District
|American Red Cross
|Southwest Gas Company
|Las Vegas Valley Water District
|Nevada Power Company