Cold Weather Preparedness in Princeton

Dec. 15, 2020

For Your Apartment - Maintain temperature

During the upcoming cold weather months it is important to maintain adequate heat within your unit.  Maintaining adequate heat in your unit is particularly important in preventing water pipes from freezing and bursting.  Burst water pipes can cause extensive damage to your unit as well as surrounding units. Below you will find specific instructions for how to prevent pipes from bursting in cold weather.  Should you elect to disregard these instructions and experience a pipe burst, you will be responsible for the costs of repairs to your unit and neighboring units as necessary.

  1. Do not set your thermostat too low and never turn your heat off completely.  Please be mindful of this during times that you may be away from your unit for an extended period.  Please keep your heat set at 65 degrees F or higher while you are gone.
  2. If you see a foundation vent that is open, please immediately report it to the Facilities Customer Service Center at 609-258-8000 or submit an online request at   
  3. For units equipped with an outside spigot, shut off the control valve and open the spigot during the cold weather months. This way, the pipe will be empty and cannot freeze.  Also, please disconnect any hoses from the spigots.  Please contact Customer Service if you cannot find the shut off valve for your outside spigot.

Before Freezing Weather

Remove garden hoses from outside faucets.
Lower, close and lock your storm windows.

During Freezing Weather

Open cabinet/vanity doors under sinks that are adjacent to outside walls.
In sustained sub-freezing weather, let water drip slowly from inside faucets (steady drip), 10 to 20 drops per minute is the ideal rate.

If You Will Be Away For an Extended Period of Time

Open cabinet doors under sinks that are adjacent to outside walls.
Keep thermostat set at 65 degrees F or higher.
Close all windows.

Cold Weather Guidance

The information below provides guidance on how to prepare you and your family and how to care for your unit during the cold weather months. If utilized, this information can help you stay safe and as comfortable as possible in your home for at least three days if necessary and can protect against property damage or loss.

In an effort to provide the University community with information on how to prepare for and respond to emergencies the University’s Emergency Management Group has also recently launched a website,  Residents are encouraged to utilize the website for further information regarding University training and other resources related to emergency response.

As always, residents should contact the Facilities Customer Service Center, (609) 258-8000, with any questions regarding the information presented below.  Additionally, if a tree falls near your residence please call the Facilities Customer Service Center.  Please do not attempt to move any tree branches as there may be live electric wires that were taken down by the tree.

For You and Your Family

With the arrival of colder weather, we are reminded that central New Jersey has historically experienced storm events at this time of year that can disrupt regional power service. In addition to high winds, the accumulation of snow and ice on branches and wires can also result in power loss. Outages can affect all of the University’s rental housing for both graduate students and faculty/staff members, since all receive power from the public utility, PSE&G. Power outages can occur at any time of year, however during the winter in recent years some have lasted several days. Therefore, we want to remind residents of the general preparedness guideline of keeping a minimum of three days’ supply of water, food, and emergency supplies on hand for all of the members of your household.

Additionally, the links below and the attachment are a compilation of resources for residential emergency preparedness.

FEMA’s Ready website and attached checklist:

Tips for the campus community:

American Red Cross tips:

PSE&G’s outage page:

Most of the resources found at the links have subsections on special preparations for caring for children, people with medical conditions, the elderly, and pets.

In the event of a power outage, work to restore service will be performed by PSE&G.  Residents who experience a power outage should report the outage directly to PSE&G.  Updates on the status of the timeline for restoration of power are provided to the residents by PSE&G.  While the University does not control the power, it is helpful for the University to be aware of rental housing properties without power, so please inform the Facilities Customer Service Center or the Department of Public Safety (24/7).  Contact information for each of these is below:

Report outages to PSE&G at (800) 436-PSEG (7734)

Facilities Customer Service Center (609) 258-8000

Department of Public Safety (24/7):  (609) 258-1000 for non-emergencies
911 for emergencies from a campus phone
(609) 258-3333 for emergencies from a cell phone

We ask that you peruse the above materials and use this time to make sure you are ready to stay safe and as comfortable as possible in your home for at least three days in the event of an extended power outage.  Meanwhile, please direct any questions on emergency preparedness in University rental housing to Chris Warkala, Senior Manager for Housing Facilities (email:, phone: (609) 258-7638).