Clark County fire prevention and emergency management officials are offering advice to residents to help them deal the onset of cooler weather in the Las Vegas Valley.

“Sunshine is the norm here in Clark County, so it’s easy for residents to be surprised by temperatures that can dip to close to freezing, “ said Deputy Fire Chief John Steinbeck, who manages the County’s Office of Emergency Management. “When it snows in the nearby mountains, residents also may not be prepared for changing road conditions or properly dressed to play in the snow.”

“When temperatures turn cold, people may use space heaters and other devices in ways that put themselves and their families at risk for injury,” said Clark County Building Official Ron Lynn, who oversees the county’s Department of Building & Fire Prevention. “We also advise residents to take steps to winterize their homes so they can protect their pipes from damage and lower their home heating costs.”

A temperature of 32 degrees or less in the desert can damage vegetation and freeze pipes causing them to burst. Cold temperatures also can result in frostbite and hypothermia.  Officials advise residents to monitor local weather forecasts for information about changing conditions. The following tips also are recommended for dealing with winter weather in our region:

Winterize Your Home

  • Insulate walls and attic, caulk and weather-strip doors and windows.
  • Protect exposed pipes by wrapping them in insulation or layers of newspaper and then covering them with plastic to keep out moisture.
  • Turn off your sprinkler system. Wrap or cover hose bibs and exposed elements of your sprinkler system such as irrigation boxes and valves.
  • If freezing or near-freezing temperatures are forecasted, run the water circulation system in your pool to prevent pipes from freezing. Cover exposed pool pipes.
  • Maintain fences, locks and other drowning-prevention barriers around pools to protect children and pets.
  • Follow manufacturer’s guidelines for maintaining pools when not in use during the winter months.

Heat Your Home Safely

  • Operate space heaters according to manufacturer’s guidelines. Do not use extension cords with space heaters and unplug space haters when not in use.
  • Do not use gas appliances such as ranges or ovens or clothes dryers to heat your home.
  • Maintain heating equipment and chimneys by having them cleaned and inspected each year.
  • Fireplaces should have open dampers to allow smoke and gasses to escape safely. Ashes should be discarded into water pails and soaked several hours before discarding.
  • Never use a portable generator, grill, camp stove or other gasoline, propane or natural gas or charcoal-burning devices inside your home. Always located these units in outside areas away from doors, windows, and vents that could allow carbon monoxide to come indoors.
  • Install a carbon monoxide (CO) alarm in your home that meets safety standards. Battery-operated CO alarms or plug-in CO alarms with battery backup are available.
  • Never use candles as a heating or light source. Have flashlights ready for use during a power outage.

Dress Warm to Avoid Frostbite

  • When outside in cold temperatures, dress to stay dry and warm. Wear warm, loose-fitting, lightweight clothing in layers. Clothing made of wool or synthetic fibers such as polypropylene offers more insulation than cotton. Outer garments should be tightly-woven, water repellent and have a hood.
  • Seek medical attention if you see signs of frostbite or hypothermia.
  • Symptoms of frostbite include the loss of feeling and white or pale extremities. Signs of hypothermia include uncontrollable shivering, slurred speech, drowsiness and exhaustion.

Winter Driving & Car Tips

  • If going to or leaving a remote area, drive with a full tank of gas and a cell phone. Also carry blankets, water, and sustainable food.
  • Before driving, dial 5-1-1 (in Nevada) or 1-877-NV-ROADS (1-877-687-6237) to check for driving conditions, chain requirements and road closures.
  • Use extreme caution while driving in winter storms. Most winter storm deaths result from vehicle or other transportation accidents caused by ice and snow. Drive slowly and allow for greater braking distances. Accelerate and brake gradually.
  • Take time to clean off snow and ice from vehicle windows to increase visibility. Keep a shovel, a windshield scraper and/or a small broom in your vehicle.
  • If you are stuck in a vehicle in snow or cold weather, stay in your vehicle and wait for help. Run the engine occasionally to keep warm, about 10 minutes each hour. Beware of carbon monoxide build up inside the car.

Snow Play at Mount Charleston

  • Head to Lee Canyon at Mount Charleston for skiing and snow play activities. The Foxtail Picnic Area is managed by the U.S. Forest Service as a snow play area. Lee Meadows also is popular for snow play but can be crowded on weekends and parking is limited. Other places include Bristlecone Trail for snowshoe hiking and various pullouts on Deer Creek Highway 158 and Lee Canyon Road (Highway 156). Old Mill and McWilliams are managed winter picnic areas.
  • There is no roadside parking on Highway 156 between Lee Meadows and the Lee Canyon ski area. Roadside parking is prohibited in Kyle Canyon past the intersection of Highway 157 and Highway 158.
  • Never play near roads or vehicles.
  • Don’t sled in areas with less than 12 inches of snow, and avoid dangerous objects like trees and rocks.
  • Don’t trespass on private property or closed areas.
  • Don’t leave trash or broken sleds behind.  We all need to do our part to keep Mount Charleston safe and beautiful.