Most of the eastern United States is getting hit with freezing rain, snow and cold this week. From -30 degree air temperature in Minnesota to up to 3 inches (and more) of snow expected in the Atlanta area, it seems like no one is spared from this cold spell. The southeastern United States is not prepared for this type of weather. We have a limited amount of plows and salt to melt the ice and snow on the streets and drivers are not used to driving in this type of weather. (The same could be said for drivers in the rest of the country.)
It is very important to be prepared when this type of weather hits. The weather forecasters can usually start telling the public a few days in advance of these types of storms. This gives people the chance to be prepared for freezing weather and the cities a chance to prep the roads. To be ready for an impending cold weather storm, you should do the following:
- Make sure that your gas tank is at least ½ full at all times. In the severe cold, if there is little fuel in the tank, there could be fuel line freeze up, not letting the car to start and eventually damaging the car. Also, it is good to keep at least that amount of gas in the car, because if there is a loss in power, you will not be able to get gas and be able to leave in an emergency.
- Turn freezers and refrigerators to the lowest setting in preparation if you think that you could lose power. Doing so will keep the items cooler in the refrigerator longer. Eat perishable items first and conserve the non-perishable and canned items for later.
- Prep your car for an impending emergency by having the proper anti-freeze level. Have a winter weather kit in the car including gloves, hats, blankets, jumper cables and a first aid kit.
During the Storm
When a storm hits, it is important to be ready for whatever can occur. Power experts mention to turn down the thermostat in order to prevent an overload of power usage. Below are some things that you can do to keep your family safe when ice or snow causes a power outage at your home:
- When the temperature drop to below freezing, there is a larger chance for the pipes in your home to freeze and burst. In order to prevent this from happening, keep water running in a trickle during the time of the storm. If the pipes do freeze, then use a hair dryer or a heat gun to warm the pipes. It is a long process, but it has to be done to prevent the pipes from bursting, which will cause huge damage to your home. If the pipes do burst, make sure to turn off the water supply at the shut off valve as soon as possible.
- Operate generators safety and follow manufacturer instructions. Do not run the generators inside as they can produce deadly carbon-monoxide fumes. Keep the generator in an open and ventilated area. Plug all necessary appliances directly into the generator.
- Keep opening a refrigerator or freezer at a minimum. Do not put food outside to keep cold. The food could still thaw if exposed to the sun.
- Unplug appliance and turn off all lights expect for one. Doing this will help prevent power surges when the power comes back on, which can damage your appliances, computers and electronics.
Don’t Forget Your Pets
During freezing temperatures, snow or freezing rain, it is vital to remember your pets. Keep the pets indoor and warm. Pets are sensitive to severe cold and are at risk for frostbite and hypothermia when they are outdoors. Exposed skin on noses, ears and paw pads can quickly freeze and have lasting damage. Protect your pet’s paws from salt damage that can get into their paws. Wipe the paws with a damp towel after coming back inside. If the pets have to be outdoors, have a dry and draft free shelter set-up with a raised floor that is covered with straw and use waterproof burlap or heavy plastic covering for the door.
The best practice during inclement weather is to be prepared and to keep as calm as possible. Drive slow, but steady and don’t pump or slam on the brakes as that can cause you to skid. Have plenty of flashlights and candles on hand if your power goes out. Just doing some small things will help protect your family.