Last week Hampton Roads experienced record low temperatures for 3 days in a row. Temperatures in some places got as low as 5 degrees. On top of the low temperatures Hampton Roads has received a crippling amount of snow and freezing rain that closed many schools for the entire week. The forecast for this week now predicts even more snow to hit the Peninsula and Southside. Here are some tips to deal with this harsh weather:
People from the North often joke about how easily the South’s roads can be crippled. It does not snow often enough for municipalities to warrant purchasing the extra snow plows it would take to keep our roads clear. The smallest amount of snow can easily coat the roads and make driving difficult and even dangerous. Here are some tips to prevent accidents when driving in the dreaded winter:
- Slow down. Speed causes the majority of all snow and ice related car accidents.
- Look and steer where you want to go.
- Never use cruise control on slippery surfaces.
- Accelerate and decelerate slowly. When accelerating too quickly you can easily lose control of your vehicle. Braking distances are greatly reduced.
- Increase your following distance 3 to 4 times the normal amount.
- Take turns slowly to avoid a skid. If you begin to skid turn the wheel in the opposite direction of the skid until you regain traction.
- Carry sand or kitty litter with you to put down in front of your tires if you get stuck.
- Stay home if you can, even if you’re an excellent snow driver not everyone else is.
Snow and ice can coat your steps and driveway quickly and when you need to leave the house you are at a much higher risk of falling. With the always changing Virginia weather snow can melt and then freeze again creating a shiny thin sheet of ice that is harder to see and very dangerous. Here are some ways you can avoid falling and injuring yourself:
- Wear shoes with good traction that keep your feet dry.
- If you are able apply ice melt or salt to your steps and driveway before the snow falls. This will melt snow as it lands and keep you from having to shovel as much later.
- Shoveling snow soon after it lands is much easier than waiting until it becomes packed and icy.
- If you are unable to remove snow yourself many lawn care companies will shovel or plow your sideways and walks for a fair price. Another option is to contact a trusted local teenager to shovel it for you.
Not often in Tidewater Virginia do we have to deal with freezing pipes. Our proximity to water mostly keeps our air warm enough so that this is not a worry. These severe winter temperatures have been plenty cold enough to freeze pipes or even worse cause them to burst. Avoiding frozen pipes is not a difficult task and it can protect you from damaged property.
- Keep garage doors closed if there are water supply lines in the garage.
- Open cabinet doors below sinks to let warmer air circulate around the plumbing.
- When the weather is very cold outside, let the cold water drip from the faucet served by exposed pipes. Running water through the pipe, even at a trickle, helps prevent pipes from freezing.
- Keep the thermostat set to the same temperature both during the day and at night. This can raise your heating bill but it is worth preventing pipes from bursting.
- If you will be going away during cold weather, leave the heat on in your home, set to a temperature no lower than 55° F.
- If you turn on a faucet and only a trickle comes out, suspect a frozen pipe. Likely places for frozen pipes include against exterior walls or where your water service enters your home through the foundation.
- Keep the faucet open. As you treat the frozen pipe and the frozen area begins to melt, water will begin to flow through the frozen area. Running water through the pipe will help melt ice in the pipe.
- Apply heat to the section of pipe using an electric heating pad wrapped around the pipe, an electric hair dryer, a portable space heater (kept away from flammable materials), or by wrapping pipes with towels soaked in hot water. Do not use a blowtorch, kerosene or propane heater, charcoal stove, or other open flame device.
- Apply heat until full water pressure is restored. If you are unable to locate the frozen area, if the frozen area is not accessible, or if you cannot thaw the pipe, call a licensed plumber.
- Check all other faucets in your home to find out if you have additional frozen pipes. If one pipe freezes, others may freeze, too.