With winter fast approaching, WaterSafe, water companies in the UK and the Met Office are advising homeowners, premises owners and facilities managers to prepare for the cold weather.

As part of this, WaterSafe is encouraging its members and other installers to get the message out to their customers in residential and commercial premises.

Cold temperatures can cause water inside pipes to freeze – leading to bursts, floods and the misery of being without water for drinking, cooking and washing. However, research shows that despite 90% of households in the UK saying they know water pipes can freeze and burst in cold weather, only 23% insulate their pipes and only 20% have a plumber's number to hand in case of emergencies.

The message to take action now comes as part of the government's Get Ready for Winter Campaign, with WaterSafe urging homeowners to wrap up their homes with pipe lagging and insulation to stay safe and healthy this winter.

Mel Harrowsmith, head of civil contingencies at the Met Office, said: "While it's too early to predict what weather this winter will bring, the Get Ready for Winter pages are designed to provide useful information that helps the UK public to be prepared and safe during the winter months, whatever the weather. We can't change the weather but we can encourage everyone to make the most of it using our accurate forecasts and advice from our partners around the country."

There are lots of simple steps households can take to prepare for a cold winter and now is a great time to get ahead and make sure homes are snug.

The Met Office and WaterSafe, the register for approved plumbing businesses in the UK, have put together a list of top tips to help homeowners and businesses beat the winter blues:

  • Wrap up pipes and water tanks with lagging

  • Fix dripping taps – even a small trickle can result in a frozen pipe

  • Find the building's stop tap and make sure you can turn it off

  • Leave the heating on low if you go away

  • Check your central heating boiler has been serviced

  • Keep the name of a plumber handy.

Julie Spinks, director of WaterSafe, said: "If the worst happens and you do have a burst pipe, then turn off the water at the stop tap, allow the thawed water to escape through your tap as normal and call a plumber who is qualified to work with the drinking water in your home."

'Wrap up for Winter' is part of a wider government campaign - find out more at www.metoffice.gov.uk/getreadyforwinter.