Be prepared for winter weather – just in case

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The S.C. Emergency Management Division, State and local public safety agencies continue to monitor a winter storm that forecasters predict will affect many parts of South Carolina beginning this afternoon. This winter weather system is expected to produce freezing rain and sleet with some ice accumulation in the Upstate and northern Midlands, according to forecasters with the National Weather Service offices in the Greenville-Spartanburg and Columbia areas. Winter Storm Warnings have been issued for six counties including Cherokee, Greenville, Oconee, Pickens, Spartanburg and York. A winter weather advisory is in effect for Anderson County.

 

Residents should prepare for the possibility of below-freezing temperatures, power outages and dangerous driving conditions, particularly on bridges and overpasses. While forecasters say this storm will primarily affect northern counties, winter weather systems can change quickly. SCEMD asks everyone in South Carolina to monitor local weather updates through broadcast media and NOAA weather radio.

 

State Government Offices are closed today in observance of President’s Day. Any changes to operating hours of state offices due to inclement weather tomorrow will be posted online at www.scemd.org/closings, and broadcast on SCETV television and radio stations.

 

SCEMD urges residents to practice the following winter safety tips from the official S.C. Severe Winter Weather Guide:

· Keep alternative heating sources prepared. If you have a fireplace, store a good supply of dry, seasoned wood. Keep fire extinguishers on hand, and make sure your family knows how to use them.

· Properly vent kerosene heaters and keep any electric generators OUTSIDE and away from any open windows or doors to prevent carbon monoxide poisoning. Also, do not burn charcoal indoors. Carbon monoxide poisoning can result from charcoal fumes indoors.

· Keep fresh batteries on hand to use with flashlights and NOAA tone-alert weather radios.

· Remember to keep a full charge on your cell phone and mobile devices so that they can be used during an emergency.

· Know how to report power outages to your electric utility.

· Do not call 911 to report a power outage, call 911 only for life-threatening emergencies.

· Always keep at least a three-day supply of non-perishable food in your home.

· Avoid driving during winter storm conditions and limit your exposure outdoors.

· Wear multiple layers of thin clothing instead of a single layer of thick clothing to stay warm. You will be warmer and, as the temperature changes, you can easily remove layers to remain comfortable.

· If you must travel during a winter storm, store an emergency kit in your vehicle that includes: blankets, a battery-powered radio with extra batteries, a first aid kit, a flashlight with extra batteries, battery booster cables and flares, a tire repair kit and pump, a road map, a sack of cat litter (for tire traction), a tow rope, bottled water and non-perishable high-energy foods such as granola bars, extra clothing to keep dry, and a windshield scraper and brush.

· If driving on snow- or ice-covered roadways, reduce your speed. Driving at the regular speed limit will reduce your ability to control the car if you begin to slide. Leave plenty of room between you and other vehicles.

· If conditions worsen and you can no longer drive safely, pull off the highway. Stay calm and remain in your vehicle. Do not set out on foot unless you can see a building close by where you know you can take shelter. Call *HP if you are in an accident or need immediate roadside assistance.

Severe Winter Weather Resources:

· Additional safety tips on what to do before, during and after a winter storm are listed in the S.C. Severe Winter Weather Guide, available at any Walgreen’s store statewide and for download at www.scemd.org.

· Follow these additional safety tips from the S.C. Highway Patrol.

· Get real time road conditions from SCDOT here: www.511sc.org.

· Follow SCEMD on Facebook (www.facebook.com/SCEMD) and Twitter (www.twitter.com/SCEMD) for additional updates at the storm progresses.