Editorial: Cold can be dangerous, even here
Last week was Winter Weather Preparedness Week in South Carolina. Emergency officials urged residents across the state to prepare for winter and possible icy weather over the next three months.
While in South Carolina, as we’ve experienced in recent times, hurricanes and flooding are considered more the cause for preparation, winter poses threats even in a subtropical climate known for heat rather than cold.
Look no further back than 2014 when the ice storm Pax resulted in more than 364,000 electrical outages and more than $260 million in damage throughout the state, much of it resulting from falling trees and limbs. The experience of watching and listening as trees came down or apart is not forgotten.
And a decade earlier in 2004, the ice was worse. Some describe the resulting damage and days of trials and tribulations that followed the ice storm as the worst natural disaster to hit S.C. in three decades – worse than Hurricane Hugo in 1989.
Snowfall, ice storms and extreme cold can immobilize an entire region. Winter storms can result in flooding, closed highways, blocked roads, downed power lines and hypothermia.
The South Carolina Emergency Management Division and the National Weather Service, along with the agencies that comprise the State Emergency Response Team, encourage everyone in South Carolina to prepare for severe winter weather by checking supplies and safety plans now.
Residents should take the proper winter weather precautions during milder temperatures while the winter emergency supplies are in low demand:
• Include winter supplies like shovels and rock salt in your household emergency kit.
• Prepare for possible isolation in your home by having sufficient heating fuel; regular fuel sources may be cut off.
• Insulate pipes with insulation or newspapers and plastic and allow faucets to drip a little during cold weather to avoid freezing.
• Learn how to shut off water valves in case a pipe bursts.
• Make sure the fireplace has a sturdy screen to stop sparks from flying into the room. Ashes should be cool before putting them in a metal container. Keep the container a safe distance away from your home.
• Chimneys should be cleaned and inspected every year by a qualified professional. If not, it can become filled with highly flammable layers of creosote.
• Have your vehicle serviced to ensure it is prepared for the winter season.
• In every vehicle, place a winter emergency kit that includes: a shovel; windshield scraper and small broom; flashlight; battery-powered radio; extra batteries; water; snack food; matches; extra hats, socks and mittens; first aid kit with a pocket knife; medications; blankets; tow chain or rope; road salt and sand; booster cables; emergency flares; and a fluorescent distress flag.
The ongoing COVID-19 pandemic creates new challenges for this winter season. It’s important to keep you and your loved ones as healthy as possible. Getting a flu shot and getting routinely tested for COVID-19 if you’re regularly out in the community are two ways to stay healthy. Keep face coverings, hand sanitizer and over-the-counter medications in stock as part of your winter weather preparations. Be sure to keep any prescription medications in good supply if a winter storm is forecast.
Here’s hoping that our region and state are spared the worst winter can bring in 2020. But there is reason to be prepared. Cold weather can be very dangerous.
Reprinted with permission from the Times and Democrat of Orangeburg.