Cold temperatures are creeping into South Carolina, just in time for the New Year. With many areas not expected to see temperatures rise above the 30s, we expect many people to crank up the heat. In addition to using care when heating your home, it’s also important to drive safely and take steps to protect pipes from freezing.
“The Lowcountry is getting a taste of winter during these next few days,” said Louise Welch Williams, regional CEO for the Palmetto SC Region of the American Red Cross. “We all need to remember to pay attention to how we drive on the roadways and how we heat our homes.”
Nearly half of the households in this country use alternative heating sources such as space heaters, fireplaces, or wood/coal stoves to stay warm. Fixed and portable space heaters, including wood stoves, are involved in 74 percent of fire-related deaths.
So far this calendar year, disaster-trained volunteers have responded to more than 2,100 home fires and helped nearly 6,700 people.”
If someone is using a space heater, the Red Cross recommends that people look for a model that shuts off automatically if the heater falls over. Space heaters should be placed on a level, hard and nonflammable surface in the home. Please keep the heater away from flammable materials, pets, and children.
While the Red Cross encourages you to stay off the road if possible, we offer these safety tips for times when you must drive.
- Fill the vehicle’s gas tank and clean the lights and windows to help you see.
- This is a good time to remind everyone that they should have a Disaster Supplies Kit in your trunk.
- Pay attention to the weather forecast. Before you leave, let someone know where you are going, the route you plan to take, and when you expect to get there.
- If you drive, make sure everyone has their seat belts on and give your full attention to the road. Avoid distractions such as cell phones.
- Don’t follow other vehicles too closely. Sudden stops are difficult on icy roadways.
- Don’t use cruise control when driving in winter weather.
In terms of keeping pipes safe:
- Open kitchen and bathroom cabinet doors to allow warmer air to circulate around the plumbing. Be sure to move any harmful cleaners and household chemicals up out of the reach of children.
- When the weather is very cold outside, let the cold-water drip from the faucet served by exposed pipes. Running water through the pipe - even at a trickle - helps prevent pipes from freezing.
- Check all other faucets in your home to find out if you have additional frozen pipes. If one pipe freezes, others may freeze, too.
You can also download the Red Cross Emergency App by going to this website.