Cold weather tips

Winter weather tips

The Bibb County Sheriff's Office offers these tips:

--Always keep your gas tank at least two-thirds full to prevent the vehicle's fuel line from freezing.

--Dress warmly for the weather—dress in layers of loose-fitting, lightweight clothing in anticipation of unexpected winter weather emergencies.

--Make sure someone is aware of your travel route.

--Always carry an emergency car care kit that contains jumper cables, flares or reflectors, windshield washer fluid a small ice scraper, traction material, blankets, non-perishable food and a first aid kit.

--Carry a cell phone and make sure it is charged.


Protecting your pets in frigid temperatures

Outdoor cats and other animals will seek heat wherever possible including your warm car engine. Bang on the hood or beep the horn before you start the car to get them out.

Antifreeze is deadly to pets. Keep it locked up and clean up any spills immediately. A few licks can be fatal.

Any pet that stays outside must have adequate shelter to protect them from the wind and snow. Use a heated water bottle wrapped in a towel and changed frequently to give them some warmth. If the shelter is waterproof, fill it with blankets, otherwise use straw that you can change every few days.

It is critical pets have access to fresh water. They cannot hydrate by licking ice or eating snow. Check the water frequently to make sure it isn't frozen or buy a heated water bowl.

For smaller pets, shovel a patch of grass for them to do their business, and if a short haired breed will wear a sweater, put one on them for added protection.

Salt can dry out your pet's paw pads. Wipe their feet with a warm washcloth when they come inside. Licking salt off of their paws can irritate their digestive tract and make them sick.

Just like you would use lip balm for chapped lips, rubbing a soothing bag balm on their paws can help with dryness and cracked pads. As your vet to recommend a brand or find it at the pet store.

If they will tolerate them, use booties to protect their paws, or at the very least trim the fur around their pads so they don't get snow packed in their feet. It can make them limp or lose balance.

If you must salt your own walkways, find a pet friendly brand that won't cause irritation. You can find it at most pet stores.

Long haired dogs and arctic breeds, like Huskies and Samoyeds, can tolerate the cold better, but they should never be left out for hours without supervision. Better yet, stay outside with them. When it's too cold for you, chances are good it's too cold for them too.

The bitter cold can especially be dangerous for old dogs with health issues such as diabetes and arthritis. Make sure you walk them in safe areas that are ice free so they don't risk falling. Talk to your vet about other issues to be aware of.



Cold weather fire safety tips

Heating Safety

  • Use kerosene heaters and space heaters according to the manufacturer's instructions.
  • Alternative heaters need their space. Keep anything combustible at least three feet away.
  • Make sure your alternative heaters have 'tip switches.' These 'tip switches' are designed to automatically turn off the heater in the event they tip over.
  • Do not use the kitchen oven range to heat your home. In addition to being a fire hazard, it can be a source of toxic fumes.
  • Never refill a space heater while it is operating or still hot.
  • Refuel heaters only outdoors.
  • Make sure wood stoves are properly installed, and at least three feet away from combustible materials. Ensure they have the proper floor support and adequate ventilation.

Generator Safety

  • Follow the manufacturer's instructions and guidelines when using generators.
  • Use a generator or other fuel-powered machines outside the home. CO fumes are odorless and can quickly overwhelm you indoors.
  • Use the appropriate sized and type power cords to carry the electric load. Overloaded cords can overheat and cause fires.
  • Never run cords under rugs or carpets where heat might build up or damage to a cord may go unnoticed.
  • Never connect generators to another power source such as power lines. The reverse flow of electricity or 'backfeed' can electrocute an unsuspecting utility worker.

Electrical Safety

  • If your home has sustained flood or water damage, and you can safely get to the main breaker or fuse box, turn off the power.
  • Assume all wires on the ground are electrically charged. This includes cable TV feeds.
  • Look for and replace frayed or cracked extension and appliance cords, loose prongs, and plugs.
  • Exposed outlets and wiring could present a fire and life safety hazard.
  • Appliances that emit smoke or sparks should be repaired or replaced.
  • Have a licensed electrician check your home for damage.

Additional Tips

  • Be careful when using candles. Keep the flame away from combustible objects and out of the reach of children.
  • If the power goes out, make certain that all electrical appliances, such as stoves, electric space heaters and hair dryers, are in the OFF position.
  • Make certain that your home's smoke alarms are in proper working order.
  • Some smoke alarms may be dependent on your home's electrical service and could be inoperative during a power outage. Check to see if your smoke alarm uses a back-up battery and install a new battery at least twice a year.
  • Smoke alarms should be installed on every level of your home and inside and outside of sleeping areas.
  • All smoke alarms should be tested monthly. All batteries should be replaced with new ones at least twice a year.
  • If there is a fire hydrant near your home, keep it clear of snow, ice and debris for easy access by the fire department.



Cold-weather power outages

When the mercury dips into frigid territory, there are a few things to keep in mind -- especially when the power goes out.

Family Safety

1. Include power outages in your family disaster plan, identifying alternate means of transportation and routes to home, school or work.

2. Keep extra cash on hand since an extended power outage may prevent you from withdrawing money from automatic teller machines or banks.

3. Keep your car fuel tank at least half-full, gas stations rely on electricity to power their pumps.

4. During a power outage, resist the temptation to call 9-1-1 for information–that's what your battery-powered radio is for.

5. Turn off all lights but one, to alert you when power resumes.

6. Check on elderly neighbors, friends, or relatives who may need assistance if weather is severe during the outage.

7. Keep a supply of flashlights, batteries and a battery-powered radio on hand. Do not use candles as they pose a fire hazard.


Keeping Warm

8. Put on layers of warm clothing. Never burn charcoal for heating or cooking indoors.

9. If you are using a gas heater or fireplace to stay warm, be sure the area is properly ventilated.

10. Go to a designated public shelter if your home loses power or heat during periods of extreme cold. Text SHELTER + your ZIP code to 43362 (4FEMA) to find the nearest shelter in your area (example: shelter 12345)



11. Keep a supply of non-perishable foods, medicine, baby supplies, and pet food as appropriate on hand. Be sure to have at least one gallon of water per person per day on hand.

12. Avoid opening the fridge or freezer. Food should be safe as long as the outage lasts no more than four hours.

13. Have one or more coolers for cold food storage in case power outage is prolonged. Perishable foods should not be stored for more than two hours above 40 degrees Fahrenheit.

14. If you eat food that was refrigerated or frozen, check it carefully for signs of spoilage.



15. Do not run a generator inside a home or garage. Use gas-powered generators only in well-ventilated areas.

16. Connect only individual appliances to portable generators.

17. Don't plug emergency generators into electric outlets or hook them directly to your home's electrical system – as they can feed electricity back into the power lines, putting you and line workers in danger.


When Power Returns

18. When power comes back on, it may come back with momentary "surges" or "spikes" that can damage equipment such as computers and motors in appliances like the air conditioner, refrigerator, washer or furnace.

19. When power is restored, wait a few minutes before turning on major appliances to help eliminate further problems caused by a sharp increase in demand.



Watching out for the elderly

Do an indoor environmental risk assessment:

Is his or her heating system working? Does he or she have adequate means to keep the temperature in the home in a comfortable range? Is he or she using heating devices that could pose a fire risk or carbon monoxide poisoning risk?

Do a health risk assessment:

Does he or she need medical attention? Does he or she depend on oxygen? Does he or she have the medications and medical supplies they need?

Check food supplies:

Does he or she have an adequate food supply? Does he or she have access to non-perishable food that can be prepared without electricity if need be? Does he or she have access to clean drinking water?

Make sure they can get help if needed:

Does he or she have someone identified to call for help if needed? Does he or she have access to a phone that works – even if the power goes out (cordless phones and voice-over-IP service may not work during a power outage)? If he or she has a cell phone, is it sufficiently charged?



The right way to layer in frigid temps

WASHINGTON (WUSA9) -- We won't be getting a break from the cold for a few days. Beginning next week we'll be bracing for bone-chilling temperatures.

Heather Lawler-Sears who manages the outdoor specialty store, Hudson Trail Outfitters in N.W., tells us there is a right way to layer.

"The first step is what's going to be next to your skin. You want to make sure it's not a cotton layer. Cotton does a bad job of moisture management, " said Lawler-Sears.

Meaning cotton keeps you colder longer. So stick with wool and synthetics.

"A thin base layer made of Merino wool does a good job with moisture management and odor control. Your polypropylene and long underwear can work but they can get stinky after a while, " Lawler-Sears said.

"The next layer, is your warm layer. You want anything that's not cotton. Susanna is wearing a sweater, almost everyone has a sweater at home, another option is fleece because it's nice and warm and toasty," she said.

"Your third step would be a coat of some sort. Susanna is wearing a down jacket. Outside is waterproof to keep you dry and break the wind, " said Lawler-Sears.

The same rules apply with socks and gloves. Stay away from cotton. Go with fleece, wool, silk or synthetics.

It might be a tough sell for Howard Adelson as WUSA9 found him running to the gym in his shorts.

"I've been a runner for 30 years, I always run in shorts in the winter," he said.

The extreme temperatures that arrive early next week may stop Adelson in his tracks.

"I'll stay in the house, " Adelson said.

Layering with good quality material can add up.

The North Face down waterproof jacket worn by Susanna runs about $400
Rain or Snow pants roughly $100-$200 dollars
Jacket with fleece shell is $260
Merino Wool top is about $35
Smartwool socks $20-$30

Lawler-Sears says a cheap way to keep your feet warm is to trace your feet on tin foil and stick them in your boots. That helps conduct warmth.


Tips to prevent pipes from freezing

MINNEAPOLIS (KARE 11) - When the temperatures dip to dangerous sub-zero levels, it's possible that pipes can freeze in your home.

Plumber Bill Blancke with Roto-Rooter of Minneapolis has fixed plenty of frozen pipes over the years.

"We see pipes that get a hard freeze, split the pipe and when it thaws out it floods the home," he said.

To prevent pipes from freezing, there are some things homeowners can do.

Pipes under sinks in some homes can get very cold. Sometimes a lack of insulation in an older home can be the cause. There's a simple way to warm them up. Open the cupboard door.

"If you leave those doors open, then the heat from the room can get in there," Blancke said.

If you have pipes that still seem to get cold, he said you can turn on both hot and cold water faucets and let the water run on a low trickle. He said it's tough for moving water to freeze.

Pipes that run near cold windows or drafts can be insulated, but Blancke said don't insulate them all the way around. He said let the pipe see the heat. If the cold is on just one side of the pipe, put insulation between the cold and the pipe and let the other side of the pipe be exposed to heat from the room.

He said it's also important to know how to shut the water off to your house in case a pipe does split.

He said shut off valves are on the water meter, which is usually located either by a home's hot water heater or on the side of the basement closest to the heat.

"You should have a shut off underneath the water meter and on top of the water meter," Blancke said.

Finally, even if you're going away on vacation, never turn your home's heat below 55 degrees.


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