Cold weather plans implemented as cold creeps into SC

COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP/WCIV) - Cold weather is heading into South Carolina.

The National Weather Service has issued a wind child advisory for northwestern South Carolina from Monday night until noon Tuesday.

Wild chills are expected to be as low as 11 below zero in the mountains.

The advisory is in effect from 3 a.m. until 9 a.m. Tuesday in northeastern South Carolina. Wind chills are expected to be around zero except on the beaches.

An advisory is in effect from 1 a.m. until 10 a.m. Tuesday in the Midlands and along the south coast. Wind chills are expected to be around zero along the coast except on the beaches.

In the Midlands, wind chills are expected to be about 4 below zero.

"This cold weather is not typical for us so I urge you to be aware of the hazards it brings. Our Emergency Management team is monitoring the weather and will keep me informed during this short stretch of extreme weather.{} Check on your neighbors, especially the elderly and those who are alone," said Charleston Mayor Joe Riley.

In a statement from the city, officials said hypothermia can set in quickly if a person is underdressed.

"Times of colder weather and during winter months bring the highest number of home fires than any other time of the year," said Community Educator Ryan Kunitzer. "Each winter season, home fires increase in part due to heating and cooking fires. Fire safety and injury prevention must not be lost in an effort to stay warm."

Charleston Fire officials are reminding people to keep space heaters at least three feet away from anything that could catch fire, as well as keep pets and children away from them. Also, they are asking people not to use an oven for heating.

Monday afternoon, Randal Longo walked into the True Value in Mount Pleasant with a goal in mind: a space heater.

"This is the second one I've picked up in 2 days," Longo said. "And, I think they're going to be getting off the shelves fast so I wanted to get out early and get another one."

Longo is one of many others winterizing his home for the expected record low temperatures to arrive Tuesday morning.

"We're going to stay at home and hibernate. We're not used to those kinds of temperatures," Longo said.

Meanwhile, heating technicians and plumbers prepared as well.

Tim Lara, a service technician for Morelli Heating and Air spent Monday repairing broken home heating units.

"After hours it will pick up," said Lara. "People get home from work, turn their heat on and their equipment is not working and that's when we start getting calls."

John Blitch works with Blitch Plumbing. He says there are ways to protect your home from being damaged by frigid temps.

"Drip your faucets," said Blitch. "Any faucets, even on the exterior wall Go ahead and drip those faucets as well. Open up the cabinets underneath the faucets so the warm air from the heat inside the house can get to them."

And, when your heating system is working well but you still feel a draft, Longo says, "If you have a gap in your front door place a towel in front of it or a blanket."

Both Blitch Plumbing and Morelli Heating and Air have 24-hour emergency, on-call services.

"Because the Charleston area rarely experiences temperatures this low, it is natural that many local residents are not accustomed to planning for sub-freezing temperatures," said Dr. Sarah Boyd, Charleston Animal Society's Director of Shelter Health and Wellness. "However, it is very important to take some simple steps to protect pets from the bitter cold."

Dr. Boyd recommended pet owner take the following precautions during the next couple of days:{}

  1. Keep cats inside. Domestic cats are not equipped for cold weather and can freeze, or become lost, stolen, injured or killed when seeking protection from the cold.{}

  2. Bang loudly on your hood before starting your car. Outdoor or homeless cats often seek the warmth of a car engine. When the motor is started, a cat huddled there can be injured or killed by the fan belt.

  3. Never shave your dog during cold weather. Longer coats provide much needed warmth.

  4. Consider a coat or sweater for short-haired dogs. This is especially important for smaller dogs.

  5. Never leave pets alone in a car during cold weather. A car can trap cold in the winter, and potentially cause an animal to freeze to death.{}{}

  6. Puppies and older dogs do not tolerate cold as well as younger adult dogs. During extreme cold consider taking them outside only for potty breaks.{}

  7. Provide warm shelter for feral cats. This can be provided through a variety of resources found in most homes.{} Simply take some kind of container, such as a storage bin, cat or dog carrier or even a sturdy box and provide it with insulation.{} For insulation, you can line the container with a variety or combination of things such a blanket or a pillow, Styrofoam or hay.

  8. Beware antifreeze! Antifreeze is a lethal poison for dogs and cats.{} Just a small amount of antifreeze can lead to kidney failure.{} It has a very sweet taste and animals will drink it.{} Never leave it laying around where a pet can get to it, and keep them out of garages and driveways where antifreeze may have leaked

  9. Provide them a warm place to sleep.{} Ideally, this should be off the floor and away from all drafts. A cozy dog or cat bed with a warm blanket or pillow is perfect.

  10. Older pets can benefit from a check-up. Cold weather can exacerbate some medical conditions such as arthritis. A visit with their vet can help assure your pet is ready and as healthy as possible for freezing temperatures.

Officials with Charleston Water System said low temperatures overnight may cause pipes to freeze and break. Officials said homeowners can prevent that with insulation sold at hardware stores or with towels wrapped around exposed pipes.

If your pipes freeze, the ice will thaw as daytime temperatures rise, but keep the following in mind:

  • If you're going to be at home, open a faucet and{}wait until water begins flowing again.{}Listen for leakswater expands when it freezes, which can cause{}leaks in pipes. If you discover a leak,{}turn off{}the water supply to your home at the main shut-off valve and contact a plumber.{}
  • If you're planning to leave your home, turn off{}your{}water supply{}at the main shut-off valve. This will prevent water damage from potential leaks in your plumbing. If you have a leak, contact a plumber.

At Crisis Ministries, officials are implementing the cold weather policy and will expand the number of beds available in the men's shelter and family center to keep as many people as possible out of the cold.

Leaders at Crisis Ministries said they are working with local communities to help as many people as possible.

The Charleston County Detention Center will be providing shelter for the homeless at its work camp facility on Leeds Avenue in North Charleston, the agency reported Monday evening on Twitter.

The American Red Cross is supporting an overnight warming center at the Williamsburg Recreation Center at 2084 Thurgood Marshall in Kingstree at the request of Williamsburg Emergency Management for the homeless, elderly and those who may have inadequate heating.

The center will be open Monday and Tuesday nights.

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