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Cold Weather Safety Tips - How to Prepare

12:41 PM, Jan 6, 2014   |    comments
(Darren McCollester/Getty Images)
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(WLTX) - With record cold temperatures a possibility this week, people are being asked to use caution as they go about their lives over the next two days.

The forecast low in Columbia Tuesday morning is 15 degrees, and with the wind chill, it could feel like zero degrees outside. It won't be much better Wednesday, with a forecast low of 16 degrees.

Here are several safety tips, courtesy of Richland County Emergency Services:

• Watch for signs of frostbite. These include loss of feeling and white or pale appearance in extremities such as fingers, toes, ear lobes, and the tip of the nose. If symptoms are detected, get medical help immediately.

• Watch for signs of hypothermia. These include uncontrollable shivering, memory loss, disorientation, incoherence, slurred speech, drowsiness, and apparent exhaustion. If symptoms of hypothermia are detected, get the victim to a warm location, remove wet clothing, warm the center of the body first and give warm, non-alcoholic beverages if the victim is conscious. Get medical help as soon as possible.

• Drive only if it is absolutely necessary. If you must drive: travel in the day; don't travel alone; keep others informed of your schedule; stay on main roads and avoid back road shortcuts.

• Let someone know your destination, your route, and when you expect to arrive. If your car gets stuck along the way, help can be sent along your predetermined route.

• If the pipes freeze, remove any insulation or layers of newspapers and wrap pipes in rags. Completely open all faucets and pour hot water over the pipes, starting where they were most exposed to the cold - or where the cold was most likely to penetrate.

• Maintain ventilation when using kerosene heaters to avoid build-up of toxic fumes. Refuel kerosene heaters outside and keep them at least three feet from flammable objects.

• Conserve fuel, if necessary, by keeping your residence cooler than normal. Temporarily close off heat to some rooms.

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

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