It’s turning colder this week and that’s a reminder to those of us in west Columbia that it’s wise to prepare for winter.
Gov. Henry McMaster has proclaimed the first week of this month as South Carolina Winter Weather Preparedness Week.
West Columbia Fire Chief Chris Smith also said there are precautions, specific to winter, that residents can take to be ready when the temperatures drop.
“If you have a fireplace you are going to use, make sure the chimney is clear,” said Smith. “Have it checked out before you use it for a fire.”
Like Smith, and West Columbia Police Chief Dennis Tyndall, the S.C. Emergency Management Division and the National Weather Service, with the State Emergency Response Team encourage everyone to prepare for severe winter weather by checking supplies and safety plans now.
For instance, Smith said if you use a heater that requires fuel, make sure you use the correct fuel.
“I have seen situations where gas and diesel have been used in a kerosene heater,” said Smith. He said that is dangerous.
Smith also said that people using stand-alone heaters in homes should be sure to have proper ventilation and make sure there is proper clearance around heaters, so that flammable materials are not close enough to catch fire. And that’s not all.
“You also need a carbon monoxide detector in the home,” said Smith.
People will find a way to stay warm,” said Smith. He also said it’s important to use an appropriate heat source and make sure safety is a priority.
Though it’s not frequent in West Columbia, snow, ice and extreme cold can immobilize an entire region, according to the SCEMD.
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.
“We will station police officers in areas where accidents are more prone to happen when there is an ice or snow event,” said Tyndall. He said police also work to secure areas where power lines or tree are down because of inclement weather.
Tyndall advised residents to take the proper winter weather precautions during mild conditions while winter emergency supplies are in low demand. He referenced the SCEMD list of items and plans (below) that may be needed in bad weather:
- 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.
- 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; a 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.
- Also, the City of West Columbia works with state and national emergency agencies to get the latest news related to any emergency. Follow the City of West Columbia, the West Columbia Police Department and the West Columbia Fire Department on Facebook and Twitter to get information in the event of an emergency. The city and fire department are also on Instagram.