Richland County residents are encouraged to take precautions to keep their families, pets and property safe as an early winter blast is expected to send overnight temperatures below freezing for several consecutive days this week.
Though the first day of winter is nearly a month away, morning temperatures are expected to dip below the 30-degree mark Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday – with Wednesday’s low falling to 17 degrees, said Ken Aucoin, the County’s chief meteorologist.
No precipitation is expected during the three-day chill.
· Tuesday’s expected morning low is 27 degrees. Temperatures will be below freezing for about five hours, from 4 a.m. to 9 a.m. (The record low for this date was 24 degrees in 1997.)
· Wednesday’s expected morning low is 17 degrees. Temperatures will be below freezing for about 14 hours, beginning 8 p.m. Tuesday night through 10 a.m. Wednesday morning. (The record low for this date was 22 degrees in 2008.)
· Thursday’s expected morning low is 24 degrees. Temperatures will be below freezing for about 12 hours, from 9 p.m. Wednesday night to 9 a.m. Thursday morning. (The record low for this date was 17 degrees in 1951.)
The average temperature for this time of year is 65 degrees for the high and 42 degrees for the low.
Residents are urged to take necessary steps to protect their families, pets, pipes and outdoor plants from freezing temperatures, including the following:
· Dress in layers of lightweight clothing. Wear gloves and a hat to help retain body heat.
· Bring pets indoors, if possible. If not, make sure pets have shelter to keep them warm and access to unfrozen water.
· Run water to help prevent pipes from freezing.
· Bring potted plants indoors, if possible. Cover outdoor plants.
The Columbia Fire Department urges residents to use extreme caution while heating homes, noting that some heating sources are leading causes of residential fires. Safety tips include:
· Keep things that can burn, such as paper, bedding or furniture, at least three feet away from space heaters.
· Make sure all fuel-burning equipment is vented to the outside to avoid carbon monoxide poisoning.
· Turn space heaters off when you leave a room or before going to sleep.
· Clear the area around the fireplace hearth of debris, decorations and flammable materials.
· Always use a metal mesh screen with fireplaces. Leave glass doors open while burning a fire.
· Keep air inlets on wood stoves open, and never restrict air supply to fireplaces.
The weather is expected to begin warming up after Thursday. The first day of winter is Dec. 21.