An accumulation of snow in the Lowcountry occurred last month for the first time since 1989!
As the frigid temperatures are expected to continue this month, here are some thoughts about remaining safe and warm.
Planning for any weather event is the key for your safety and health. We are accustomed to preparing for a hurricane, but not for snow.
Some of the same preparations apply, but there are some you might not have considered.
Pay attention to the weather forecast and make sure you are prepared.
Be sure you have enough medications, canned food and bottled water for your family and pets to last several days in case power is lost.
Is your outside grill in good working order?
Bring pets inside. Have extra clean-up supplies, i.e. piddle pads, plastic bags, paper towels and non-clumping kitty litter.
Even if you don't have a cat, kitty litter can be used to make walkways, steps and driveways less slippery.
Cover fragile plants, and bring portable potted plants inside.
To keep your home warm, change air filters and check additional fuel sources, i.e. propane tanks, firewood and space heaters.
Make sure the fireplace is clean and that heaters and fire extinguishers are in good working order.
Weather strip drafty windows and doors in early winter.
Use "draft dodgers," or rolled up towels or socks filled with sand, at the bottom of outside doors to prevent drafts.
Keep doors closed to rooms not often used in order to concentrate heat in living areas and bedrooms.
Keep curtains open on the sunny side of the house during the day, closing all curtains at night to conserve heat.
If you have a generator, be sure it is full and in good working order.
If you use a cane or walker, make sure the rubber tips are not worn smooth. You'll need the extra traction on cold or icy surfaces.
Dress in layers. Don't go outside without water-resistant, non-slip shoes, a warm, wind-resistant coat, gloves, a scarf and a hat.
Your head is the body's thermostat, so wearing a hat is very important. Have you ever noticed that runners always wear a hat in cold weather? Now you know how they stay warm!
If you haven't already, have a mechanic check your car battery, anti-freeze, wipers, windshield washer fluid, ignition, thermostat, lights, heater, brakes, defroster and oil.
Don't drive in extremely cold winter conditions unless it's an emergency.
It's a good idea to keep the gas tank full in case you get stranded or are stuck in traffic for a prolonged period.
If traveling, take water, snacks, blankets, a car charger for your cell phone, a red cloth to tie to the antenna, extra medications and toileting supplies, just in case.
A small bag of kitty litter will help generate traction under the wheels if stuck.
Now you're prepared. Have a safe, healthy and happy winter.
Rachel Carson is the owner of Home Instead Senior Care, serving The Lowcountry since 1997.