↑ Return to Climate

Cold Weather Procedures – Embassy Guidance

The following cold weather guidance has been issued by the British Embassy:



Your safety and comfort are important to us. During the heating season (October 15th through May 15th) take the following precautions to prevent damage to the home. Remember, damage is always more costly than prevention.


If you have concerns about your Embassy-owned property, please contact the Estates team. If you have concerns about your Embassy-rented property, please direct enquiries to your landlord/agent in the first instance, or through the Housing Co-ordinator at USA Support Group(Tidewater) if you need additional assistance. If you aren’t sure where your property’s shut off valves are or how to work your heating system please find out via your landlord or agent.


• Close interior water shut-off valves that supply outside faucets (or taps). Remove all garden hoses. Bleed the line of water, then open the outside faucet; let it drain and leave open. As you may know, water expands when turning to ice. If the faucet is open, the water has a place to go instead of expanding inside and splitting the pipe. In addition, this would be a good time to make sure you know the location of your main shut-off valve.


• If you lose heat for more than one hour, and the temperature outside is freezing or below, open all of your inside faucets to a drip. This will prevent the pipes from freezing.


• Always check your furnace (boiler) for proper operation prior to the onset of cold weather. This way if there is a problem we can take care of it before hand. IMPORTANT- Change or clean your HVAC filters once a month.


• Arrange in advance to have any oil or propane tanks filled. If you run out and damage occurs to the home, you will be held responsible for the cost of repairs.


• Check your smoke detectors and carbon monoxide detectors (if present), twice each year and change batteries as needed. If you hear a chirping noise it means that the battery is low.


• Clean leaves out of exterior stairwells, and have your gutters/downspouts cleaned to prevent leakage inside the home.


• Make sure all storm windows are in place and that any windows are closed and latched.


• DO NOT turn your thermostat below 60 degrees, even if you are away from home.


• Close fireplace dampers when not in use. Do not store any wood closer than 3 feet from any wooden structure; this is a fire hazard.


• If you have pipes running through any closets or cabinets, open the doors to allow heat to them when temperatures fall below freezing.


• Adjust your heat registers (vents) for winter mode. Remember heat rises, therefore, you may want to close some upstairs vents and open all downstairs vents.


• Keep all garage and other exterior doors closed and secure. Also, close all exterior crawl space vents.


• If you will be away for more than one day, please arrange for someone to check the home. Have them check the heat and for any leaks. Please make sure they have our numbers. Turn off the main water valve unless you have heat driven by hot water.


• Consider pairing up for a buddy even when you aren’t away for general support if you lose power, etc.