Winter sliding into city
Published 12:00 am Thursday, January 8, 2004
Homeowners who forgot to leave a trickle of water running from faucets last night may be getting a rude awakening this morning.
In fact, temperatures Thursday didn’t make it above freezing until around 3:30 p.m., with only 35 degrees recorded at the Emergency Operations Center on White Marsh Road. Lows last night were expected to be only around 23 degrees with a 50 percent chance of snow.
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Forecasters predict a 50 percent chance of snow again today with highs in the low 30s and lows in the mid-20s.
Suffolk’s Emergency Management Coordinator Captain James T. Judkins said, &uot;Be prepared’ is not just a good motto right now but a word of caution that could make a great deal of difference in how people weather the weather this winter.
&uot;In severe winter weather, being properly prepared for extreme weather could save your life,&uot; said Judkins. &uot;There are, however, several things people can do to go through the winter months more comfortably.&uot;
The primary concerns are the potential loss of heat, power, and telephone service, and a shortage of supplies if storm conditions continue for several days.
&uot;Looking back on the problems with Hurricane Isabel, we should all remember to stock up on batteries and flashlights, and it’s always good to have a batter-powered National Oceanic Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) weather radio and a portable AM-FM radio to receive emergency information,&uot; said Judkins. &uot;These could become your only links to the outside world should we get a heavy snow or icy conditions like we’ve had in the past.&uot;
Extra food and water should always be on hand and especially high-energy foods like dried fruit or candy. Food requiring no cooking or refrigeration is best.
An extra supply of medications and baby items, and first-aid kits should also be a part of winter preparedness.
Heating fuel may be difficult to come by during a severe winter storm, and tanks should be filled before storms strike. Also, it may be a good idea to have an emergency heating source, such as a fireplace, wood stove, or space heater.
&uot;However, if you use these types of heating sources, learn to use them properly to prevent a house fire,&uot; said Judkins. &uot;We just experienced two home fires in Suffolk and we were fortunate there was no loss of life.&uot;
When using a kerosene heater, remember to maintain ventilation to avoid build-up of toxic fumes. Judkins said it is important to remember to refuel kerosene heaters outside and keep them at least three feet away from flammable objects.
Also, if using a fireplace, stock an ample supply of wood that is easy to get to during a storm. Use a fireplace screen to contain sparks and do not leave a fire unattended, especially at night.
Conserve fuel if necessary by keeping your house cooler than normal, and in some instances, temporarily close off heat to some rooms. Judkins also suggested hanging blankets over windows at night, but allow the sunshine in during the day. Stuff cracks around doors with rugs, newspapers, towels, or other such materials.
While frozen water pipes aren’t life threatening, they do cause damage to homes each winter.
&uot;If pipes in the walls aren’t properly insulated, they can freeze and break,&uot; said Judkins. &uot;A crack of only one-eighth of an inch in a pipe can release up to 250 gallons of water a day, soaking floors, rugs and furniture.&uot;
Insulation specially made for pipes should be wrapped around them, or use heat tape to prevent freezing.
&uot;Also, you can stop a lot of cold air from reaching pipes by sealing any leaks around the pipes,&uot; said Judkins. &uot;You can also disconnect garden hoses and turn off and drain water from pipes leading to outside faucets. This reduces the chance of freezing in the short span of pipe just inside the house.&uot;
When It’s Cold
nLet hot and cold water trickle at night from a faucet on an outside wall.
nOpen cabinet doors to allow more heat to get to un-insulated pipes under a sink or appliance near an outer wall.
nMake sure heat is left on and set no lower than 55 degrees, and homes should be checked by a family member or neighbor to make sure heat is still operating to prevent freezing.
&uot;Family members should know how to shut off the water, in case pipes burst,&uot; said Judkins. &uot;Stopping the flow of water can minimize the damage to your home. Call a plumber and contact your insurance agent immediately. Never try to thaw a pipe with an open flame or torch, and always be aware of the potential for electric shock in and around standing water.&uot;