Local American Red Cross shares cold weather tips - WTOC-TV: Savannah, Beaufort, SC, News, Weather & Sports

Local American Red Cross shares cold weather tips

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It may not feel like it outside, but the coldest weather of the season is expected this weekend and into the first part of next week.

With below-freezing temperatures just around the corner, the local chapter of the American Red Cross wants to make sure you and your family are prepared.

Emergency kits with things like critical documents, medicine, food and water really set the foundation for any emergency situation. Especially if you need to just grab and go in a situation like a house fire.

With colder weather, the use of space heaters becomes more common, as do house fires if they're not used properly.

If you find yourself out in the elements, the American Red Cross urges you to dress for the weather. Wear a hat, insulated boots, dress in layers and watch for the signs of frostbite.

When it comes to protecting your home, pipes are a priority. Let cold water drip from faucets, and open cabinet doors to allow warmer air to hit the pipes to keep them from freezing.

Bottom line, the American Red Cross doesn't want cold weather to catch you and your family off guard.

"We want people to understand that it is the preparation that is important. The temperatures are going to drop. It's going to be very cold at night time. And typically, we're not used to that cold weather. We're not used to the temperatures in the 30's and in the 20's. That's not what we're accustomed to,” said Executive Director of the American Red Cross of Southeast and Coastal Georgia, Esther Sheppard. 

Tips for residents provided from the American Red Cross:

Build an emergency kit well in advance:  Don’t forget to include critical documents, medications, food, water, blankets and warm clothing for your entire family.

Don’t forget Pets and Livestock:

Bring pets/companion animals inside during cold weather. Move other animals or livestock to sheltered areas and make sure that their access to food and water.

Protect Yourself from Freezing Temperatures

Avoid unnecessary exposure to the cold. Be aware of both the temperature and the wind chill when planning outdoor activities. When you prepare to go outside in severe cold weather, please remember the following:

Wear a hat, preferably one that covers your ears, as most heat is lost through your head

Dress in layers to help retain heat; remove layers as needed if you become too warm.

Mittens provide more warmth to your hands than gloves.

Wear waterproof, insulated boots to help avoid hypothermia or frostbite by keeping your feet warm and dry and to maintain your footing in ice and snow.

Get out of wet clothes immediately and warm the core body temperature with a blanket or warm fluids like hot cider or soup. Avoid drinking caffeine or alcohol if you expect you or someone you are trying to help has hypothermia or frostbite.

Recognize the symptoms of hypothermia that can be a serious medical condition: confusion, dizziness, exhaustion, and severe shivering. Seek medical attention immediately if you have these symptoms.

Recognize frostbite warning signs: gray, white or yellow skin discoloration, numbness, waxy feeling skin. Seek medical attention immediately if you have these symptoms.

Prevent Frozen Pipes

Many homeowners may not be ready for frigid weather either. Now is the time to protect your house pipes from freezing and bursting. With the cold weather upon us, preventive action may make all the difference.

Let the cold water drip from faucets served by exposed pipes or pipes in exterior walls. Running water through the pipe - even at a trickle - helps prevent pipes from freezing

Keep garage doors closed if there are water supply lines in the garage or in walls adjacent to the garage.

Open kitchen and bathroom cabinet doors to allow warmer air to circulate around the plumbing. Be sure to move any harmful cleaners and household chemicals up out of the reach of children.

Keep the thermostat set to the same temperature both during the day and at night. By temporarily suspending the use of lower nighttime temperatures, you may incur a higher heating bill, but you can prevent a much more costly repair job if pipes freeze and burst.

If you will be going away during cold weather, leave the heat on in your home, set to a temperature no lower than 55ºF.

More information on preventing and thawing frozen pipes is available here.

Safely Heat Your Home 
Here are six ways you can stay safe from home fires during this winter season:

·         Install smoke alarms on every level of your home, inside bedrooms and outside sleeping areas.

·         Test the batteries in your smoke alarms once a month, and change them if they’re not working.

·         Create an escape plan that includes two exits from each room and practice it until everyone in your household can get out in less than two minutes.

·         Follow the “three feet” rule and keep children, pets and flammable items at least three feet from heating equipment. Turn off portable space heaters when you leave the room and when you go to sleep.

·         Use gas wisely and never use a cooking range or oven to heat your home. Four percent of Americans admit to having used a gas stove to heat their home.

·         Use flashlights, not candles because battery-operated flashlights or lanterns are safer than candles during power outages

Caution: Carbon Monoxide Kills!

Never use a generator, grill, camp stove or other gasoline, propane, natural gas or charcoal-burning devices inside a home, garage, basement, crawlspace or any partially enclosed area. Locate unit away from doors, windows and vents that could allow carbon monoxide to come indoors. Install carbon monoxide alarms in central locations on every level of your home and outside sleeping areas to provide early warning of accumulating carbon monoxide.

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