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HOMEOWNERS ALERT: WINTER DISASTERS A THREAT

 BLOOMINGTON, Ill., Nov. 19 /PRNewswire/ -- In 1992, Hurricane Andrew slammed into the South Florida and Louisiana coasts; in 1993, floods ravaged the Midwest and wind-driven fires scorched Southern California.
 While no one can predict what 1994 will bring, cold and snow have already pushed into the South (Oct. 31). This suggests that more unwelcome weather surprises may be in store for homeowners in the United States this winter.
 There's danger, for example, that sudden, bitter cold will cause water pipes to freeze and burst in thousands of homes.
 State Farm Fire and Casualty Company points out that the cost of damage from frozen pipes can reach the same level as damage from storms. The company paid out more than $600 million for frozen-pipe damage in a recent 10-year period.
 Pipes exposed to the cold are at risk to freeze and break. An eighth-inch crack in a pipe can spew out 250 gallons of water a day, soaking carpets and flooring, ruining furniture and appliances, and causing ceilings and walls to collapse.
 Though all homes are susceptible to frozen pipe damage, homes in warm-weather climates are most vulnerable because pipes typically aren't installed or insulated for protection from cold air. Cold snaps in California in 1990 and in Texas in 1989 resulted in disasters among the most costly in the states' histories.
 Homeowners can do something to prevent having their homes flooded from the inside and the irritation and cost that go with it, according to an alert from the nation's largest insurer of homes. Here are a few steps to lessen the likelihood of damage from frozen pipes:
 -- Insulate pipes most susceptible to freezing -- typically those on the outer walls, in crawl spaces and in the attic.
 -- Disconnect garden hoses.
 -- During extreme cold, let hot and cold water faucets trickle overnight and keep doors under sinks open to allow heat to get to pipes.
 -- If you're going to be gone, keep your heat on. Don't set your thermostat lower than 55 degrees. Have someone check your house daily to make sure it's warm enough to prevent freezing.
 -- If your pipes do burst, shut off the water immediately to minimize damage. (Make sure you know the location of your shut-off valve.)
 -- Never try to thaw a pipe with an open flame or torch, and be careful of electric shock in standing water.
 -0- 11/19/93
 /CONTACT: Jerry Parsons of State Farm, 309-766-6103/


CO: State Farm Fire and Casualty Company ST: IN: SU:

TW -- NY070 -- 6633 11/19/93 15:32 EST
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Publication:PR Newswire
Date:Nov 19, 1993
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