With the nightly low temperatures dropping below freezing, take precautions.
Protect your home• Insulate exposed pipes and those in your home's crawl space and attic.
• Allow faucets to drip during cold weather to avoid freezing.
• Learn how to shut off water valves (in case a pipe bursts).
• If your pipes freeze, leave the faucets turned on and call a plumber. If pipes are frozen and burst, turn water off at the main shut-off valve; leave water faucets turned on.
• If you turn on your faucets and nothing comes out, leave the faucets turned on and call a plumber. If you detect that your water pipes have frozen and burst, turn off the water at the main shut-off valve and leave faucets turned on.
• Get pets out of the elements.
Protect your yard• Water plants lightly in late afternoon or early evening before the frost hits. Wet soil holds more heat than dry soil. This also raises the humidity level. Well-hydrated plants can cope better with frost "burn, " which results from moisture being pulled out of the foliage to protect the main trunk and roots.
• If overnight frost is expected, move potted plants to protected areas indoors or onto a covered patio.
• Cover sensitive plants such as succulents, tropical natives and citrus. Cloth sheets work better than clear plastic and can increase the temperature 5 degrees. Allow a little room for air circulation under the cover; that helps keep in the warmth. Remember to remove the covers by midmorning or risk suffocating the plant.• Create mini-greenhouses for tender vegetable transplants such as lettuce. Cut the bottom out of milk cartons or plastic jugs (discard the caps). Slip these shelters over the plants. (If using paper cartons, remove them during the day. The plastic jugs can stay in place until warmer weather.)
• Plants in raised beds or on mounds stay warmer than plants in sunken areas.
• String Christmas lights (the ones that get hot, not LEDs) on the trunks and limbs of citrus, avocado and other frost-prone trees and bushes. Big lights give out more heat than mini-lights.
• If plants show frost burn, don't cut off the damaged foliage. It will help protect the plant from further harm. Remove the burned leaves in spring after all danger of frost has passed -- usually after March 23 in Sacramento.