Preparing for Winter

Preparing for the winter is as important as getting your car serviced or going to the doctor for a check up. By taking a few simple steps you can help prepare yourself and your home for winter.

Hopefully we will not see the same disruption as the winter before last, but by making a few simple provisions for such an event, will help make life a little easier.

Preparing for the winter







Make sure you know where to turn off your water, electricity and gas.

Make yourself an emergency pack containing:

  • Torches or candles.
  • Battery 0perated radio.
  • Long life food  and drinks
  • Baby and pet food.
  • Blanket.
  • Dry clothes.
  • Medication.
  • List of useful numbers and insurance information.

Check you have home contents insurance – Fold’s insurance does not cover your belongings (contents) if you live in a General Needs scheme. Your contents include your furniture, carpet, white goods and any other personal items. Your housing officer will be able to advise you about affordable contents insurance. (For those living in Sheltered, Housing-with-Care and Supported Housing, Fold’s content insurance covers you, to a limited value)

  • Take note of these useful numbers, or download our useful leaflet
  • Fold’s 24 hour response centre 028 9042 1010
  • Fold Sheltered Tenants can also use their pull cords
  • PSNI (non emergency) 0845 600 8000
  • NIE/Electricity Failure 0845 764 364
  • Gas Leak 0800 002 001
  • NI Water 0845 744 0088
  • Mains Water Leak 0800 028 2011
  • Flooding 0300 2000 100

If you’re away from your home

• Set a security timer on one of your lights to help deter burglars.
• Set your heating to come on regularly at a low temperature.
• Leave a key with a neighbour, friend or family member who can check your house regularly.
• If you wish you can turn your water off at the stop cock and drain the system by turning the taps on, remember to turn them off.



Keeping yourself and your home safe

• Try to keep your property around 18-21°C.
• Follow the instruction for your electric blanket.
• If you use a heater or electric fire keep the door ajar to provide ventilation.
• Make sure doors and windows from unheated parts of property are kept closed and minimise any drafts from outside




During severe weather and snow

• Check the TV, radio and newspapers for the latest information and early warnings.
• Wrap up warm in several layers.
• Ensure your heating is on.
• Have at least one warm meal a day.
• Fill some clean containers with fresh water in case your water supply fails.
• Keep your heating on a low setting at night to protect your property.

If you have elderly or disabled neighbours, if possible, please check on them to ensure they are okay.

Clearing Ice and Snow

•Clear ice/snow early in the day: Loose snow is easier removed than hard snow which has packed together from people walking on it.
•Use salt or sand – NOT water: If you use water to melt the snow, it may refreeze and turn to black ice which is invisible and very slippery. Resalt after rain/snow before it can refreeze to prevent black ice.
•Take care where you move the snow: When you are shovelling snow, take care where you put it so it doesn’t block people’s paths or drains.
•Prevent slips: Pay extra attention to clear ice and snow from steps and steep pathways – you might need to use more salt on these areas.
•Use proper footware.
•Clear the center of the path first, providing an area to work from for both sides.
(Advice from:



If the worst happens

First of all don’t panic there are a few simple steps you can take immediately before contacting Fold:

Your heating has stopped working

If your property has a condensing gas boiler and the heating in your home stops working the condensation pipe may have frozen. If you know where your condensation pipe is you may be able to defrost it using boiling water. Please take care that this water does not freeze anywhere that may cause a slip hazard.





Frozen Pipes

Even insulated pipes may freeze, especially over prolonged periods of low temperatures. You can take a few precautionary measures by leaving your loft hatch ajar to let warm air into the attic, if you know where your stopcock is (normally under your kitchen sink) leave the cupboard open to let warm air at it. Test your stopcock to make sure it will turn, if it is ceased please let us know.




In the unlikely event a pipe freezes or bursts

If your pipe has frozen and you can identify where it is frozen, you can try to defrost it using a hot water bottle or by using the cool setting on your hair dry. Do not use extreme heat, such as a naked flame, as this could cause the pipe to split.

In the unlikely event that your pipes burst turn your water off at the stopcock immediately and turn the taps on to drain the system and flush the toilets. Remember to turn the taps off again when the water stops. You can try to block the flow with a heavy towel.

You will also need to turn your heating and emersion water heater off.

No Water
If there is no water in your property there may be a water shortage in your area, you can check this with a neighbour. If they have no water, it is probably a water supply issue in your area. You can check with NI Water (

Please do not leave your taps on as when the supply is restored this may cause flooding in your property.