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Severe Winter Weather

Before Winter Weather seasons gets here, make sure your home and car are ready for the cold weather. Therefore, Emergency Management suggests the following winter safety tips.

Getting Your Home Ready for Winter:

  • Check battery-powered equipment - flashlight(s), portable radio and/or TV. Keep additional, fresh batteries for each.
  • Have furnace checked. Check heating fuel supplies. Do not allow fuel to get low because, in snowy or icy weather, fuel carriers may not be able to reach you.
  • Check attic and basement insulation. Wrap basement pipes and hot-water heaters with special insulating "blankets."
  • Caulk or weather-strip doors and windows.
  • Stock up on sand and ice-melting chemicals.
  • Have alternate heating source - fireplace, wood stove, space heater. Equipment should be approved for indoor use. Properly ventilate room and use strict fire safety measures.
  • Have fireplace cleaned by a professional before use.
  • Keep space heaters at least three feet away from any combustible materials, including drapes, carpeting and furniture.
  • Do not drape gloves, socks, or other clothing over a space heater to dry.
  • Keep children and pets away from heating equipment.
  • Fuel-filled equipment should be filled outdoors when completely cooled.
  • Have a smoke detector on each level of the home. Check batteries monthly.
  • Have a fire extinguisher near each heating source.
  • Assemble an emergency supplies kit (enough for at least three days):

    Extra supplies of high energy food and food requiring no cooking or refrigeration (Suggestion for  canned foods: 10 cans per person)
    Non-electric can opener
    Bottled water (one gallon per person per day)
    Extra warm clothing
    Extra blankets or sleeping bags
    First aid kit, including all essential medications

If You Are Caught in a Winter Storm:
Stay Inside. When using an alternate heat source (fireplace, wood stove, space heater, etc.), be sure to: use fire safeguards, and properly ventilate the room.

If you have no heat: Turn off electrical appliances that were on when the power went off to avoid a power surge when the electricity is restored. Use flashlights to see. Do not use candles, since they greatly increase the chance of having a fire in your home. Close off unneeded rooms. Stuff towels or rags in cracks under doors. Cover windows at night.

Eat and drink: Food provides the body with energy to produce its own heat. Keep the body replenished with fluids to prevent dehydration.

Wear layers of loose-fitting, light-weight, warm clothing. Layering clothes keeps you warmer than a single layer of heavy clothing. Remove layers to avoid overheating, perspiration, and subsequent chill.

Things you can do:

  • Check the car's heater and defroster, making sure the vents are not clogged and that they'll put out warm air when needed.
  • Wiper blades should be in excellent condition, free of nicks and cracks. If in doubt, replace them. You are a danger to yourself and others if you can't see where you are going.
  • Wipers without window washer fluid won't do much good - they'll only smear the mud and slush on the windshield. You can empty your washer reservoir in no time, so keep a spare jug of washer fluid in the trunk. Use a commercial grade fluid that will not freeze and never use plain water as washer fluid.
  • Tires need deep tread to grip snow and mud. A good "all season" tire is OK for most parts of South Carolina.
  • Always keep your car's gas tank at least half full during the winter for two reasons: one, you're less likely to have condensation in the tank; and two, you are not as likely to run out of gas in an emergency.

Things your mechanic should do.

  • Before cold weather arrives, make sure your car is in top condition. A tune-up and the proper engine oil will make your car start easier and run better during winter months. Be sure to have all the belts and hoses checked. It is especially important to make sure your car's battery and charging system are in good condition.
  • When checking the antifreeze, remember to have it checked for its freezing point, as well as the quantity. If the antifreeze has not been changed in more than a year, it may be time to have it replaced and the cooling system flushed out.
  • Brakes should be checked by a professional mechanic, and worn or damaged parts replaced.
  • Leaks in the exhaust system can be deadly, especially in winter when windows are closed tight and the car's heater is set on re-circulate. If you do become stuck in the snow and run the engine and heater, be sure the exhaust pipe is clean of snow, ice and debris. It is best to keep a window opened slightly to keep carbon monoxide from building up inside the passenger compartment.

Keep an emergency supply kit in your vehicle, especially during winter:

  • Flashlight, extra batteries
  • Blanket or sleeping bag
  • First aid kit
  • Extra warm clothing
  • Sack of sand or kitty litter (for traction if stuck in snow)
  • Shovel
  • Windshield scraper and brush
  • Extra washer fluid
  • Tow rope
  • Booster cables
  • Chains


Winter Driving Safety Tips


See and be seen - While it may be a chore to remove the snow and ice from all the vehicle's windows, you'll greatly reduce the chance of having an accident if you can see where you are going and what is coming toward you from all sides. Be sure to remove snow and ice from headlights, tail lights and brake lights. For added safety, keep your headlights on whenever you are driving. Slow down - Allow more time to get to your destination during snowy weather. It takes substantially longer for a car to stop on snow covered or icy roads, so allow more space between vehicles. Rather than the normal two-to-three seconds between cars, increase the time to eight-to-ten seconds.

Using brakes on snow and ice is tricky, at best; and can be disastrous. Know what kind of brakes you car has. To avoid locking your breaks (thus losing traction and going into a skid), try using the "squeeze" technique. Keep the heel of your foot on the floor and use your toes to apply pressure to the brake pedal. If the wheels lock, ease off the pressure slightly until the wheels again begin turning. If your car has anti-lock brakes, do not pump them, but apply a steady, even pressure. If in doubt about the kind of brakes on your car, check your vehicle owner's manual.

Getting unstuck from a snow bank or muddy road shoulder takes patience and a light foot on the gas. Don't spin the tires! Find the path of least resistance between your car and solid ground, then clear the snow from in front, behind and around all four tires. Next liberally sprinkle sand or kitty litter in front and behind all drive wheels. Remember to keep the front wheels as straight as possible - the more your wheels are pointed to either side the more resistance they create, and the harder it will be to get unstuck. Now, put the car in the lowest gear and gently press down on the gas. If necessary, create a rocking motion - forward-reverse-forward-reverse-forward - to give the car some momentum; but don't spin the wheels!

Control in a skid involves three things: 1 - don't panic; 2 - don't hit the brakes; and 3 - do take your foot off the gas and steer in the direction you want the car to go. Once the car has slowed down you'll be able to steer out of the skid and brake to a halt if needed.

Remember to always drive defensively!






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