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Staying safe and aware before, during and after winter storm hits the Carolinas

Ensure you have enough food, water, medications and other essentials for your family and pets for at least 72 hours.
Published: Jan. 14, 2022 at 7:16 AM EST|Updated: Jan. 16, 2022 at 12:05 AM EST
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CHARLOTTE, N.C. (WBTV) – As a winter storm makes its way to our area and the Carolinas as a whole, emergency responders want you to know everything there possibly is to know to keep yourself, your home, your belongings, your pets and your loved ones safe during the weather.

This is how the CDC says you should prepare for a winter storm.

The North Carolina Department of Transportation has been working to make sure the roadways are safe and treated in time for the snow and ice to come in.

NCDOT officials spoke Friday morning about the details of their efforts behind the scenes to prepare for the storm and to explain what they’ll do during it as well.

At that division, officials confirmed those trucks, plows, and tanks of brine were already being put into action Thursday, being seen out and about on Interstate 85.

Thousands of pounds of salt and brine, which is a combination of salt and water, could be seen on the roads early Friday morning.

Every year the city puts together a weather plan for ice and snow. A look through that plan shows the major thoroughfares are the first priority. The goal is to have 90% of those cleared within 48 hours of the storm’s end.

For the most up-to-the-minute updates, download the WBTV Weather App.

The Charlotte-Mecklenburg Emergency Management Office urges everyone in Charlotte and Mecklenburg County to prepare themselves and their family for the impacts of the incoming winter storm.

The forecast indicates that there will be significant precipitation impacting the Charlotte/Mecklenburg area, beginning in the evening on Saturday, Jan. 15.

Here is some guidance from the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Emergency Management Office:

Before Winter Weather

  • Ensure you have enough food, water, medications and other essentials for your family and pets for at least 72 hours.
  • Have emergency supplies in your home. This includes flashlights, batteries, battery operated radio, medical supplies, nonperishable foods and a fully charged cell phone.
  • Gather supplies before winter weather begins - travel may be difficult during and immediately following winter weather.
  • For a list of suggested emergency supplies, visit www.ready.gov/kit.
  • Talk with your family about where to go and how to contact each other if you lose power.
  • Bring outdoor pets inside. If unable to bring pets inside, ensure they have appropriate shelter from the weather and access to fresh water that is not frozen.
  • Straw is the best bedding to keep outdoor pets dry and warm – free straw can be picked up at Animal Care and Control at 8315 Byrum Drive, Charlotte, NC 28217 in the self-serve trailer located in the front parking lot.

During Winter Weather

Home Safety

  • Do NOT use a generator indoors. Keep generators at least 20 feet away from your home and away from vents, windows and doors.
  • Never use a charcoal grill or camping stove indoors.
  • Don’t use alternative heating methods such as space heaters in an unattended room or while you’re sleeping.
  • If clearing debris, do not use power tools unless you are fully trained on proper safety procedures.

On the Road

  • Only drive during a winter storm if it is necessary. It is important to keep roads clear for first responders and essential workers.
  • Keep an emergency kit and blankets in your car.
  • Slow down and leave space between you and other vehicles.
  • If you start to slide, do NOT panic.
  • Call 9-1-1 for emergencies and call 3-1-1 to report downed trees and power lines.
  • CATS will operate normal weekend service on bus, light rail, and streetcar. Any weather-related service impacts will be announced as needed. Riders can call CATS Customer Service at 704-336-7433 (RIDE) for the most up-to-date information.

Stay Informed

When it comes to water, Charlotte Water also has advice on how to handle this winter storm

The key is to keep the house warm.

The major key message that usually stands out is reminding people to locate where their master shut-off valve is now in case there is a pipe issue. (For example: Some people’s shut-off valve is located next to the hot water heater in their garage.)

Here is more advice from Charlotte Water:

  • Insulate pipes in unheated parts of your home and save on energy costs by insulating your water heater. Insulation materials are available at local hardware stores.
  • Seal any openings and air leaks in crawl space or basement. Use cardboard, plastic, or newspaper to seal air vents if necessary.
  • Open doors on cabinets below sinks to allow warmer room air to circulate around plumbing at night.
  • Be sure garden hoses are disconnected from outdoor spigots.
  • Unplug automatic lawn sprinkler systems. Irrigation line breaks and sprinklers spraying onto sidewalks and roadways will quickly lead to serious public safety hazards and expensive repairs. If you must irrigate your lawn this time of year, do so during daylight hours when temperatures are well above freezing.
  • Locate the master water shut-off valve in your home now in case you experience a burst pipe, and need to cut off your water in a hurry.
  • Make sure the water meter box in your yard remains properly in place to keep cold air from freezing water inside the meter. If for any reason your water meter cover is damaged or missing, contact Charlotte Water by dialing 311.

Charlotte Water also asks residents to call 311 if they discover a new water leak in their road or neighborhood. Crews work 24/7 to address emergencies.

Friday PM #ncwx update: • A significant winter storm is still expected across much of NC this weekend. • Winter Storm...

Posted by NC Emergency Management on Friday, January 14, 2022

Advice for keeping your pets safe during the winter storm comes from The Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department’s Animal Care & Control Division (AC&C). Pet owners are reminded that below-freezing temperatures are expected in our region and it’s important you take precautions to keep your pets warm, dry, and safe.

The best option is to bring outdoor pets inside!

If you are unable to bring animals into your heated living space, but have a garage or basement, remember if they are not heated the temperature inside these areas will likely fall below freezing so proper bedding or straw needs to be used in these areas as well. When taking dogs out for bathroom breaks remember to consider the breed and the type of fur coat they have, some dogs cannot tolerate the cold temperatures for an extended period of time. Dog coats are a good option for these breeds. When winter weather occurs always make sure to inspect the dog’s paws when they come inside and if they have walked on surfaces that may have been treated for ice, be sure to clean their paws thoroughly with warm water and a mild soap. When shopping for ice melt, choose a pet friendly variety.

AC&C has a supply of straw available to Char-Meck pet owners who need assistance preparing their outside pets for winter. If you can’t bring them inside, please prepare their shelter with straw.

Visit the shelter at 8315 Byrum Drive – Charlotte, NC 28217 to pick up straw, It’s self-serve in the trailer in the front parking lot.

Safety tips for pets to keep in mind during the winter months:

Pets must build up a thicker coat and get their footpads toughened for snow and ice. Also, pets that get too cold could develop hypothermia or even frostbite. Animals that stay well-hydrated are less likely to be affected. That is why it is especially important to make sure if your pet has an outside water bowl, it does not freeze. Break up any ice that forms in the bowl and change the water frequently.

Animals also like the taste of antifreeze, but it is a deadly poison. The most likely source of antifreeze is from radiator drainage in your garage or driveway. If your car leaks any antifreeze, immediately wash it away with water.

Specific advice related to different pets:

  • OUTDOOR PETS – PROPER SHELTER
    • If your pet spends a lot of time outdoors, let him get acclimated gradually to dropping temperatures. Outdoor pets need a sheltered place that is well-bedded with DRY straw, shavings or blanket strips that trap warm air. Remember, animals drag a lot of moisture into their bedding areas from snow, rain and mud. Check their bedding often and change it whenever it is wet. Also, outdoor pets need more food during the winter because extra calories allow them to produce more body heat. Please consult your local animal ordinances to make sure you are complaint with the law in caring for your outdoor pet. The recommendation is to bring the pet inside during cold temperatures.
  • CATS
    • Cats prefer to spend the winter indoors, but if your cat prefers to stay outside, be very cautious. Cats left outdoors have a particular hazard because they often crawl into car engines to stay warm. When the engine is started, the cat can be seriously injured or killed by the fan blade or belt.
  • PUPPIES
    • Puppies do not tolerate the cold as well as adult dogs and may be difficult to housebreak during the winter. If your puppy appears to be sensitive to the weather, you may opt to paper-train him inside.
  • DOG FOOT (PAW) CARE
    • Make sure to wipe off dog’s legs, feet and stomach when they come in out of the snow or ice. They can ingest salt, antifreeze or other dangerous chemicals if they lick their paws. Be sure to inspect the pads of their feet for encrusted ice as they may crack from the cold. Many dogs need boots in cold weather.
  • DOG OUTERWEAR
    • Dogs with very short coats have the least tolerance for cold. Extremely short-coated breeds include Greyhounds, Dobermans, Boxers, Boston Terriers, Chihuahuas, Miniature Pinschers and Miniature Dachshunds. These breeds should not go outside without a sweater or a coat. Dogs should not be shaved down to the skin during the winter months. If you bathe your dog during the winter, be sure the dry them completely before they go outside.
  • GRASS FOR POTTY BREAKS
    • If your dog is picky about going to the bathroom in the snow, plan ahead! Take a large piece of black plastic or large piece of cardboard. (a vinyl shower liner works great and are inexpensive) and lay it down in a grassy area that is easy to access from your door before the expected precipitation starts. Once the precipitation ends, carefully remove, or dig out the liner and you have a grass area for your dogs to relieve themselves.

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