Be prepared for winter weather

With snow predicted for parts of South Carolina Saturday, now is a good time to remember to prepare for winter weather. Winter storms and cold temperatures can be hazardous. The best way to stay safe and healthy is to plan ahead and prepare your homes and cars for possible bad weather.

Snowfall, ice storms and extreme cold can immobilize an entire region. Even areas that normally experience mild winters can be hit with an ice storm or extreme cold. If you are prepared, you will be more likely to stay safe and healthy when temperatures start to fall.

Take precautions

Here are some tips from the SC Emergency Management Division (SCEMD) and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to help in your preparation:

  • Include winter supplies like shovels and rock salt in your household emergency kit.
  • Prepare for possible isolation in your home by having sufficient heating fuel; regular fuel sources may be cut off.
  • Stock food that needs no cooking or refrigeration and water stored in clean containers.
  • Insulate pipes with insulation or newspapers and plastic and allow faucets to drip a little during cold weather to avoid freezing.
  • Learn how to shut off water valves in case a pipe bursts.
  • Portable generators are commonly used in the winter as a result of storm-induced power outages. Carbon monoxide fumes are odorless and deadly. Follow manufacturer’s instructions to prevent death from carbon monoxide.
  • Make sure the fireplace has a sturdy screen to stop sparks from flying into the room.
  • Chimneys should be cleaned and inspected every year by a qualified professional.
  • Have your vehicle serviced to ensure it is prepared for the winter season.
  • In every vehicle, place a winter emergency kit that includes: a shovel; windshield scraper and small broom; flashlight; battery-powered radio; extra batteries; water; snack food; matches; extra hats, socks and mittens; first aid kit with a pocket knife; medications; blankets; tow chain or rope; road salt and sand; booster cables; emergency flares; and a fluorescent distress flag.
  • When outdoor wear appropriate outdoor clothing: a tightly woven, preferably wind-resistant coat or jacket; inner layers of light, warm clothing; mittens; hats; scarves; and waterproof boots.
  • Avoid traveling when the weather service has issued advisories. If you must travel, inform a friend or relative of your proposed route and expected time of arrival.

Watch out for family and friends

Above all, be ready to check on family and neighbors who are especially at risk from cold weather hazards: young children, older adults and the chronically ill. Bring pets inside. If you can’t bring them inside, be sure they have adequate, warm shelter and unfrozen water to drink.

Download SCEMD’s Severe Winter Weather Guide. Also, visit the CDC’s website for more information about staying safe and healthy in the winter.

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