January and February are usually the months with the greatest chance of winter precipitation.
WEST COLUMBIA, SC — The South Carolina Emergency Department is urging people across the state to prepare for possible winter hazards in the coming months, especially after the state experienced one of the busiest winters in years this past season.
The South Carolina Emergency Management Division (SCEMD) held a briefing Tuesday as part of Winter Weather Preparedness Week, where they explained how they are prepared for a possible storm but said being prepared requires the help of the public.
“We need to be everyone’s own emergency manager,” said Kim Stenson, the SCEMD director.
Stenson said January and February are usually the months with the greatest chance of winter precipitation in South Carolina, but people should take precautions now. This includes making sure you always have food and water on hand for three days, insulating pipes, and making sure you have a way to protect pets or livestock.
As for the state, Maj. Gen. Van McCarty, the adjutant general of the South Carolina National Guard, said the state’s emergency response teams will be ready to respond if needed.
“The top priority is to ensure the citizens of South Carolina are safe and that we are doing everything we can to prepare for the storm so that we can respond efficiently and effectively in the event of a storm,” McCarty said.
Trisha Palmer of the National Weather Service said the overall outlook is for a drier and warmer winter in the state as it is a La Niña winter. However, Palmer warns that this is just a broad pattern, and during the La Niña years, winter precipitation is ice rather than snow.
And Palmer notes that South Carolina has experienced several major winter storms — including 2015 and 2018 — during La Niña. And last year there were three weeks in a row of winter storms. “This was one of the most active winter weather events we’ve had in 10 to 15 years, even though it was a La Nina year,” she said.
SCEMD created a winter weather guide to help people prepare. It includes some of the following tips:
- Include winter supplies like shovels and rock salt in your household emergency kit.
- Prepare for possible insulation in your house by having sufficient heating oil; normal fuel sources can be cut off.
- Insulate pipes with insulation or newspaper and plastic, and allow faucets to drip a little in cold weather to prevent freezing.
- Learn how to shut off water valves in case a pipe bursts.
- Portable generators are often used in winter as a result of storm-related power outages. Carbon monoxide fumes are odorless and deadly. Follow the manufacturer’s instructions to prevent death from carbon monoxide.
- Make sure the fireplace has a sturdy screen to prevent sparks from flying into the room. Ash should be cool before placing in a metal container. Keep the container a safe distance from your home.
- Chimneys should be cleaned and inspected annually by a qualified professional. If not, it can fill with highly flammable layers of creosote.
- Have your vehicle serviced to ensure it is prepared for the winter season.
- Place in each vehicle a winter emergency kit containing: a shovel; window scraper and small broom; Flashlight; battery operated radio; additional batteries; Water; snack food; Matches; extra hats, socks and mittens; first aid kit with pocket knife; medicines; Cover; tow chain or rope; road salt and sand; jumper cables; emergency flares; and a fluorescent distress flag.