SC residents warned to prepare for winter storm - - Columbia, South Carolina |

SC residents warned to prepare for winter storm

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With a second winter storm expected in the Midlands in two weeks, the South Carolina Emergency Management division is warning residents to be prepared.

"Residents should prepare for the possibility of power outages, problems with pipes that are not fully insulated or at risk to bust and very dangerous driving conditions," read a statement from the SCEMD.

"Every household should have an emergency preparedness plan in place.  Start by posting important numbers by the telephone, such as utility companies and emergency responders," the statement continued.

"Once ice begins to accumulate on bridges, overpasses and secondary streets, travel may become treacherous.  If you are on the roadway, drive slowly and watch for black ice."

Emergency plans should include a winter weather kit that contains the following items:

  • Flashlights and extra batteries
  • Battery-powered NOAA weather radio and a portable AM/FM radio
  • Extra food and water, such as non-perishable/high-energy foods and snacks
  • Extra medication
  • Extra baby items, especially if you have infants or small children
  • Basic First-Aid supplies
  • Blankets, sleeping bags and extra clothing for warmth
  • Charge all cell phones ahead of time
  • Gather and store extra firewood in a dry sheltered area

In terms of heating homes, SCEMD says:

Always keep safety in mind when using home heating appliances.  Build a small fire in the fireplace to heat a room.  A fire that is too big or too hot could damage the chimney and catch the house on fire.  Make sure the fire in the fireplace is completely out before leaving the home or when going to sleep.  Never burn charcoal inside the home.

Space heaters can be dangerous if not used properly.  Keep plenty of space around the heater and remember to turn the heater off if you leave the room for an extended period of time or when going to sleep.  Never place combustibles such as clothing, furniture or bedding too close to the space heater.

Kerosene heaters should be used in well-ventilated areas.  In order to refuel a kerosene heater, allow the heater to properly cool.  Always refuel outdoors.  Remember to use the proper type of fuel for kerosene heaters.  Never mix kerosene with other types of fuels.  Kerosene heaters should not be left burning for an extended period of time, especially when leaving the home or going to sleep.

If you lose power and decide to employ a portable generator, remember to keep the generator outside and a safe distance away from the house.  Never use generators inside a basement or garage.  The generator should be placed outside in a well-ventilated area.  Use only the amount of power necessary to maintain essential appliances and lights.

Additional safety warnings:

Avoid contact with downed power lines.  If you lose power don't go outside in the dark to investigate.  Contact with an energized electrical line may cause severe injury or even death.  All downed utility lines should be considered "live."  Report downed power lines to the fire department and the appropriate utility company.

The prolonged cold temperatures could cause a thin sheet of ice to form on open bodies of water.  Avoid any frozen body of water such as a lake, creek, ditch, or pond.  The ice will not be thick enough or strong enough to support the weight of a child or small pet.  Post warning signs around frozen bodies of water. 

Limit time outdoors in the cold.  Prolonged exposure to cold may cause hypothermia or frostbite.  Wear multiple layers of clothing and remember to cover your hands, face, and ears whenever possible.

Consider safety precautions for small pets.  Bring pets indoors if at all possible.  The improper use of heat lamps should be avoided due to the potential hazard or injury to pets.

For more information, go to the SCEMD web site.

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