January weather can be tricky, be prepared for cold temperatures

Published 10:27 am Tuesday, January 2, 2024

In recent years we have been spoiled by the mild winters we have experienced – very little snow and ice, and warm temperatures.
But, January can carry a mixed bag of winter surprises, among them snow and frigid temperatures. Some parts of the nation have already experienced snow, ice, and freezing temperatures. We all should think about what we need to do to prepare in case we get a significant coldsnap this winter, possibly one mixed with snow and ice. Such mindfulness can make all the difference in minimizing any financial pain, and in some cases between life and death.
We recall last winter’s disaster that played out across much of Texas, when sustained freezing temperatures knocked out major chunks of the state’s electric grid causing deaths and extensive property damage.
While we hope that local transportation officials and utility companies are prepared for weather disasters, it falls to all of us to do our part in being prepared. While we hope that Ole Man Winter and his accompanists – ice and snow – pass us by, we must make sure that we’re prepared to remain at home without help. Try to stock necessities, particularly prescription medications and sufficient amounts of food. If you have a portable generator, take care to ensure it’s properly ventilated.
Insulate your home’s pipes with insulation or newspapers and plastic. If the forecast calls for below-freezing temperatures, let at least one faucet per floor drip a little to keep water lines from freezing up.
Learn how to shut off water valves in case a pipe bursts; that can go a long way toward minimizing any damage after pipes thaw back out.
Ensure sparks can’t fly out of a fireplace into the room; empty ashes into a metal container. Make sure chimneys are cleaned and inspected.
Those who have to drive should bring what they might need in case they’re ever stuck (or worse). That includes a shovel, a windshield scraper and small broom, a flashlight, battery-powered radio with extra batteries, water, snacks, extra clothing, road salt or sand, a first aid kit with a pocket knife, medications, blankets, a tow chain or rope, booster cables, emergency flares and a fluorescent distress flag.
And if you don’t absolutely have to drive in snow or icy conditions, stay home.
Make sure you think about how you would get by without power or without the ability to safely drive around town, and be prepared to touch base with vulnerable family members or neighbors who might require help.
Let’s just hope Ole Man Winter passes us by as he has the past few winters. But the even smarter bet is to be ready just in case.

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