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Use common sense

News of wintery weather is met with a variety of reactions in North Carolina, ranging from joy to dread and everything in between. An unfortunate side effect, however, is a sense of panic.

With forecasts bouncing all over the place, and a sense of uncertainty, its easy to slide into a frenzy. But really, all it takes is some commonsense precautions to stay warm, safe and fed during a winter weather event. The American Red Cross offers the following:

SAFELY HEAT YOUR HOME
Heat sources such as space heaters, fireplaces or wood and coal stoves can pose a fire hazard, and fatal fires peak in the early morning hours when most people are sleeping. In January alone, the Red Cross of Eastern North Carolina Region (53 counties) responded to 183 families who lost their homes to fire. That’s nearly six families every night in January.

  • All heaters need space. Keep children, pets and things that can burn (paper, matches, bedding, furniture, clothing, carpets and rugs) at least three feet away from heating equipment.
  • Never leave a fire in the fireplace unattended and use a glass or metal fire screen to keep fire and embers in the fireplace.
  • Never use a cooking range or oven to heat your home.
  • Turn off portable space heaters every time you leave the room or go to sleep.
  • Have wood and coal stoves, fireplaces and chimneys inspected annually by a professional and cleaned if necessary.
  • If you must use a space heater, place it on a level, hard and nonflammable surface (such as ceramic tile floor), not on rugs or carpets, or near bedding or drapes. Plug power cords directly into outlets and never into an extension cord.

WINTER DRIVING SAFETY

Stay off the road if possible, during severe weather. If you must drive in winter weather, follow these tips:

Keep the following in your vehicle:

  • A windshield scraper and small broom. A small sack of sand for generating traction under wheels and a set of tire chains or traction mats. Matches in a waterproof container. A brightly colored (preferably red) cloth to tie to the antenna
  • An emergency supply kit, including warm clothing.
  • Keep your vehicle’s gas tank full so you can leave right away in an emergency and to keep the fuel line from freezing.
  • Make sure everyone has their seat belts on and give your full attention to the road.
  • Don’t follow other vehicles too closely. Sudden stops are difficult on snowy roadways.
  • Don’t use cruise control when driving in winter weather.
  • Don’t pass snow plows.
  • Ramps, bridges and overpasses freeze before roadways.