SWAN and The Snowman

pipe lagging kit swan the snowman and snowdog channel 4 water efficiency winter

Wrap up for winter

Wrap up for winter isn’t just about keeping warm when you're tobaggoning, it’s also about making sure you and your family are ready for the cold weather! And in this period, before the cold hits is time to get your pipes wrapped up to prevent freezing and burst pipes this winter.

The Snowman and Snowdog

Because burst and freezing pipes can be a problem that touches us all, SWAN has teamed up with something else that touches us all - Channel 4's The Snowman - to help us deliver the message. 

Email info@waterwise.org.uk with your three best winter care tips for a chance to win premiere tickets

A sequel, The Snowman and The Snowdog will be shown at Christmas 2012 to mark the 30th anniversary of The Snowman and of Channel 4 itself. 

The London premiere will be held in early December. Just email info@waterwise.org.uk with your three best winter care tips and you'll be entered in a draw to win four tickets.

If your water company is a member of SWAN you have additional chances to win. See below

Preventive measures

If your home or business suffers a burst pipe this winter, you could be left with no water and a hefty bill! The good news is that preventive measures are cheap and simple.

All pipework within the boundary of your home or business is your responsibility, so it really is worth protecting it 

Remember, all pipework within the boundary of your home or business is your responsibility, so it really is worth protecting it properly to avoid serious problems during cold weather.

  • Check that you know where your internal stopcock is located - this is usually under the kitchen sink or in the downstairs cloakroom. 
  • Insulate water tanks and lag pipes (lagging material is available from all good DIY stores). Make sure there are no gaps at bends, valves or fittings.
  • Ensure pipes, cisterns and tanks in unheated areas such as lofts are lagged
  • Make sure your boiler has been serviced
  • Repair dripping taps - even a small trickle can result in frozen pipes
  • If away leave the heating on low or drain down the system
  • Check loft insulation is in good condition
  • Leave loft doors open to allow warm air to circulate
  • If a pipe bursts turn off the water and central heating
  • Keep a separate supply of drinking water for emergencies
  • Keep the number of a reliable plumber on hand
  • Make sure you have adequate insurance. You can insure your home against plumbing and drainage emergencies such as burst pipes with Homeserve Plumbing and Drainage cover. 

What do I do if a pipe freezes?

  • Turn off the water supply at the internal stoptap – this is usually located under the kitchen sink or in the downstairs cloakroom
  • Check to see if the pipe has burst
  • Soak up/block off escaping water with thick towels
  • Open the affected tap. Slowly thaw the pipe with hot water bottles or a towel soaked in hot water, starting at the end nearest the tap
  • Never use a naked flame, hairdryer or blowtorch to thaw the pipe
  • Don’t leave taps dripping or running as the water may not drain down the plughole if the pipe below is frozen

What do I do if a pipe bursts?

  • Turn off the internal stopcock and boiler
  • Open all taps to drain the system quickly
  • Soak up/block off escaping water with thick towels
  • Call a local water industry recommended plumber
  • If water has leaked near your electrics or into any electrical appliances, switch them off at the mains
  • Turn off taps once the pipework is repaired to avoid further flooding
  • If you have your own plumber make a note of their name and number so you have it handy in an emergency 


Be prepared this winter (Scottish Water)

Wrap up for Winter PDF (via Sembcorp Bournemouth Water)

Wrap up warm for winter (Affinity Water)

Get Ready for Winter (Water UK)

Get Ready for Winter (South East Water)

Get Ready for Winter (Southern Water)

Why Get Ready for Winter? (video via Sutton and East Surrey Water)

Government references

Get Ready for Winter is a UK Government campaign to get people to think about what winter weather preparations they, their family and the wider community may need to make.

Ready for Winter is the Scottish Government's initative to make sure people are prepared for emergencies (check their emergency kit checklist to make sure you're ready for winter).