November 24, 2020
Columbia, S.C. - Governor Henry McMaster has proclaimed the week of November 29 through December 5, 2020, as South Carolina Winter Weather Preparedness Week. 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. This year, residents should keep in mind the importance of COVID-19 precautions as more people stay indoors in the coldest weeks ahead.
Snowfall, ice storms and extreme cold can immobilize an entire region. Even areas that normally experience mild winters can be hit with an ice storm or extreme cold. Winter storms can result in closed highways, blocked roads, black ice, downed trees and power lines, hypothermia and possible flooding in inland and coastal areas.
Residents should take the proper winter weather precautions now 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.
- Portable generators are commonly used in the winter as a result of storm-induced power outages. Carbon monoxide fumes are odorless and deadly. Follow manufacturer’s instructions to prevent death from carbon monoxide.
- 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.
Leave COVID-19 in the cold
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 your flu shot and getting routinely tested for COVID-19 if you’re regularly out in the community are two key 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 for your area.
Download the SC Emergency Manager mobile app and the Severe Winter Weather Guide
The SC Emergency Manager app is designed for users to build their own emergency plans, to keep track of supplies and to stay connected to loved ones. The app also allows users to locate the nearest open emergency shelter. The tools section features a flashlight, locator whistle and the ability to report damage to emergency officials. The app is available for free in the Apple App Store and on Google Play for Android (http://onelink.to/dn92rx). Developed by SCEMD and partner agencies specifically for South Carolina, the Severe Winter Weather guide contains tips on what to do before, during and after a major winter storm. It includes check lists, information on how to get the current status of government offices and more. The S.C. Severe Winter Weather Guide is available for download at scemd.org.