Winter weather safety tips - WCBD-TV: News, Weather, and Sports for Charleston, SC

Winter weather safety tips

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CHARLESTON, SC - As the temperature drops and the chances for precipitation increase here are some safety tips to help during winter weather.

Because water expands when it freezes, pipes that freeze are at risk of breaks and leaks. Exposed pipes and backflow preventers are especially vulnerable to freezing and should be insulated by with towels or insulation materials sold at hardware stores. Homeowners with raised foundations and exposed pipes should also let an inside faucet drip overnight, as moving water is less likely to freeze.

If your pipes freeze, the ice will thaw as daytime temperatures rise, but keep the following in mind:
  1. If you're going to be at home, open a faucet and wait until water begins flowing again. Listen for leaks-water expands when it freezes, which can cause leaks in pipes. If you discover a leak, turn off the water supply to your home at the main shut-off valve and contact a plumber.
  2. If you're planning to leave your home, turn off your water supply at the main shut-off valve. This will prevent water damage from potential leaks in your plumbing. If you have a leak, contact a plumber.
For more tips, visit www.charlestonwater.com.

Cold weather moving into the Lowcountry in the coming days brings a unique set of circumstances that can enhance the possibility of residential fires.  The use of candles, heating sources and makeshift cooking methods can significantly increase the chances of a fire occurring. By following some basic safety tips, you can protect yourself and your family when severe weather strikes.

Fire safety tips for cold weather:
  1. Furnaces, fireplaces, and chimneys should be routinely cleaned and inspected by a qualified technician.
  2. Space heaters, furnaces, and fireplaces should not be within 3 feet of any combustibles.
  3. Keep children and pets away from space heaters.
  4. Dispose of fireplace ashes in a metal container and place the container away from combustible construction for 2-3 days    before disposal.
  5. Allow kerosene heaters to cool and remove them to the outdoors before refueling.
  6. Never use your oven or stove for heating purposes.
  7. Install and maintain carbon monoxide (CO) alarms to avoid the risk of CO poisoning. Remember, carbon monoxide is a colorless and odorless gas.
  8. Carbon monoxide alarms are NOT a substitute for smoke alarms. Make sure a smoke alarm is on every level of your home, inside and outside of each sleeping areas. Test smoke alarm batteries monthly.
Verizon Wireless recommends the wireless tips below to ensure safety during inclement weather:
  1. Don't leave wireless devices in cars or in places exposed to the cold, as the low temperatures will drain the batteries and can make screens more fragile.
  2. Send brief text messages and limit voice calls to emergency situations to conserve battery power and free up wireless networks for emergency agencies and operations.
  3. Keep wireless phones, tablets, hotspots, netbooks and laptops fully charged in case local power and landline phone service is lost.
  4. Have additional charged batteries and car-charger adapters for back-up power.
  5. Download mobile apps from your local media outlets and emergency agencies like the Red Cross and FEMA to help you track weather conditions and access important information.
  6. Download FEMA app for Android and iOS
  7. Download Red Cross First Aid app for Android and iOS
  8. Check to make sure you have an emergency list of phone numbers on paper and loaded in your wireless devices for police, fire, and rescue agencies; power companies; insurance providers; family, friends and co-workers; etc.
Verizon Wireless has generators, back-up batteries and mobile units to keep the network operating at full strength even if power is lost. When necessary, the company's emergency response team can also arrange for Cells on Wheels (COWS), Cells on Light Trucks (COLTS), and generators on trailers (GOaTS) for deployment to hard-hit locations or areas that need extra network capacity.

The Charleston Animal Society is also urging the public to take steps to protect their pets during this time of inclement weather:
  1. Keep cats inside. Domestic cats are not equipped for cold weather and can freeze, or become lost, stolen, injured or killed when seeking protection from the cold.
  2. Bang loudly on your hood before starting your car. Outdoor or homeless cats often seek the warmth of a car engine. When the motor is started, a cat huddled there can be injured or killed by the fan belt.
  3. Never shave your dog during cold weather. Longer coats provide much needed warmth.
  4. Consider a coat or sweater for short-haired dogs. This is especially important for smaller dogs.
  5. Never leave pets alone in a car during cold weather. A car can trap cold in the winter, and potentially cause an animal to freeze to death. 
  6. Puppies and older dogs do not tolerate cold as well as younger adult dogs. During extreme cold consider taking them outside only for potty breaks.
  7. Provide warm shelter for feral cats. This can be provided through a variety of resources found in most homes.  Simply take some kind of container, such as a storage bin, cat or dog carrier or even a sturdy box and provide it with insulation.  For insulation, you can line the container with a variety or combination of things such a blanket or a pillow, Styrofoam or hay.
  8. Beware antifreeze! Antifreeze is a lethal poison for dogs and cats.  Just a small amount of antifreeze can lead to kidney failure.  It has a very sweet taste and animals will drink it.  Never leave it laying around where a pet can get to it, and keep them out of garages and driveways where antifreeze may have leaked
  9. Provide them a warm place to sleep.  Ideally, this should be off the floor and away from all drafts. A cozy dog or cat bed with a warm blanket or pillow is perfect.
  10. Older pets can benefit from a check-up. Cold weather can exacerbate some medical conditions such as arthritis. A visit with their vet can help assure your pet is ready and as healthy as possible for freezing temperatures.
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