Be prepared for winter weather

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The South Carolina Emergency Management Division is advising residents to prepare themselves and their homes for winter weather over the next few days that is expected to be dangerous. The National Weather Service says the forecast for this week calls for snow and ice accumulations with freezing temperatures lasting into Thursday.

Residents should prepare for the possibility of power outages, problems with pipes that are not fully insulated or at risk to burst and very dangerous driving conditions.

State and local agencies are putting emergency plans in place for winter weather and urge everyone in South Carolina to consider preparations to keep your home, community, family, vehicles and pets safe.

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.

Listen to a NOAA Weather Radio or other local news channels for critical information from the National Weather Service (NWS). Be alert to changing weather conditions.

The status of State Government offices will be broadcast via SCETV television and radio, and listed on scemd.org.

These winter safety tips are being offered:

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.

The plan should include a winter weather kit that can be easily put together and should include 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

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.