Dangerously low temperatures are in the forecast for much of the Midwest and the U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s Federal Emergency Management Agency wants individuals and families to be safe when faced with the hazards of cold temperatures and winter weather.
During cold weather, take the following precautions:
• Stay indoors as much as possible and limit your exposure to the cold;
• Dress in layers and keep dry;
• Check on family, friends, and neighbors who are at risk and may need additional assistance;
• Know the symptoms of cold-related health issues such as frostbite and hypothermia and seek medical attention if health conditions are severe.
• Bring your pets indoors or ensure they have a warm shelter area with unfrozen water.
• Make sure your vehicle has an emergency kit that includes an ice scraper, blanket and flashlight — and keep the fuel tank above half full.
• If you are told to stay off the roads, stay home. If you must drive, don’t travel alone; keep others informed of your schedule and stay on main roads.
Find more information and tips at http://www.ready.gov/winter-weather.
Area warming centers are available for anyone needing to come in out of the cold. They are at the following locations:
East Alton: Department of Human Services, 606 W. St. Louis Ave
Granite City: Department of Human Services, 1925 Madison Ave.
Jerseyville: Department Of Human Services, 110 N. Jefferson St.
More information about warming centers is available at http://www.illinois.gov/KeepWarm/Pages/default.aspx or by calling (800) 843-6154.
State Police offer driving tips
Illinois State Police District 18 alerts motorists and citizens to be aware of the winter weather advisory looming ahead.
Although a large amount of snow may not be predicted for the near future, cold weather is. When temperatures drop into the single digit or sub-zero range, there are a few tips of which one should be aware.
First off, make sure to wear a seat belt. Next, be aware of black ice. Take your time and slow down when approaching intersections, on and off ramps, bridges and shady areas. Keep your gas tank at least half full in case you get stranded on the side of the road. Carry an emergency kit in your vehicle with essential goods such as a first aid kid, an ice scraper, jumper cables, flares or reflectors, blankets, non-perishable foods, etc. Also make sure you keep your cellphone charged and have a working cellphone charger in your vehicle. Check weather and travel conditions before you leave by calling (800) 452-IDOT or go to www.gettingaroundillinois.com.
With cold temperatures coming and wind chills in the subzero range, make sure you have a plan in case the power goes out or your furnace breaks. Know where the warming centers are in your area or a family’s/friend’s residence you can go to until you can safely and warmly return to your residence.
The cold can affect you faster than you realize. Make sure you take heed of the suggestions above and be prepared for this weather hazard.
Utility offers tips for preventing frozen pipes
Illinois American Water is advising homeowners to make sure their homes are prepared for winter weather.
“We want to remind customers that sub-freezing temperatures for an extended period can cause pipes in vulnerable areas to freeze, possibly burst and result in costly damage,” said Illinois American Water Vice President of Operations Barry Suits. “By taking the proper steps, customers can avoid frozen pipes and expensive repairs to damaged plumbing inside and outside of the home.”
Property owners are responsible for maintenance of the water service line from the curb to the house, as well as any in-home piping. Illinois American Water encourages
residents to take the following precautions to reduce the risk of freezing and bursting pipes.
To prepare for frigid weather:
- Know the location of your main water shut-off valve. If a pipe freezes or bursts, shut the water off immediately.
- Protect your pipes and water meter. Wrap exposed pipes with insulation or use electrical heat tracing wire – follow manufacturer instructions closely to avoid a fire hazard.
For outside meters, keep the lid to the meter pit closed tightly and let any snow that falls cover it. Snow acts as insulation, so don’t disturb it.
- Know which areas in your home, such as basements, crawl spaces, unheated rooms and outside walls, are most vulnerable to freezing.
- Eliminate cold air sources near water lines by repairing broken windows, insulating walls, closing off crawl spaces and eliminating drafts near doors.
When temperatures are consistently at or below freezing:
- Allow a small trickle of water from both your cold and hot water faucets to run overnight to keep pipes from freezing. The cost of the extra water is low compared to the cost to repair a
broken pipe. Customers should also consider a wise water use practice and collect the running water for later use.
- Open cabinet doors to expose pipes to warmer room temperatures to help keep them from freezing, although be careful to not create a tripping hazard.
If your pipes do freeze:
- Shut your water off immediately. Don’t attempt to thaw frozen pipes unless the water is shut off, as freezing can often cause unseen cracks in pipes or joints.
- Apply heat to frozen pipe by warming the air around it or applying heat directly to the pipe. You can use a hair dryer, space heater or hot water. Be sure to not leave space heaters unattended and avoid the use of kerosene heaters or open flames.
- Once the pipes have thawed, turn the water back on slowly and check for cracks and leaks.
If you are going to be away from your home for more than a few days:
- Have a friend, relative or neighbor regularly check your property to ensure that the heat is working and the pipes have not frozen.
- Also, a freeze alarm can be purchased for less than $100 and will call a user-selected phone number if the inside temperature drops below 45 degrees.
In addition to pipes indoors, customers can help protect their own and their neighbors’ homes by keeping fire hydrants clear of snow. Substantial snow accumulations combined with the after-effects of plowing roads and parking lots can leave fire hydrants partially or completely buried in snow. Clearing hydrants can help firefighters easily locate them and
access water quickly, saving valuable time to possibly save lives and structures.
Also be sure that your water service provider and other utility companies have the correct phone number to reach you in an emergency. Illinois American Water customers can manage their account information online at My H2O Online. Customers should also consider following their utility service providers on social media as well to get the latest updates on their computer or smartphone. For more tips and information, visit http://www.amwater.com/ilaw/learning-center/wise-water-use.html or follow us at www.facebook.com/ilamwater and www.twitter.com/ilamwater.