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Protect property from the cold

Winterizing cars and homes can prevent damage

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POSTED: January 3, 2011 2:21 p.m.

Coastal Georgia’s recent cold snap is taking a toll on area residents and their property. With temperatures hovering around freezing the past few weeks, ice-blanketed cars and lawns seem to be common sights in the wee morning hours.

As a result, local home-improvement store and garage employees say they’ve noticed more people "winterizing" their homes and vehicles.

Ed Stewart, an oil change technician for Total Car Care, said drivers need to be careful to maintain their vehicles’ anti-freeze levels during winter so car parts don’t freeze up.

"We do get a lot more coolant flushes and get a lot of tire replacements [in the winter] because people do need new tires and we also do more batteries," he said. "If it does get cold, the battery will drain. Just make sure you get battery checked."

Stewart also suggested that drivers frequently check tire pressure and tread to avoid sliding on black ice and snow when traveling.

The recent cold snap tied a 1925 record in Savannah when the temperature reached 21 degrees on Dec. 28, according to the National Weather Service website, which lists Georgia data.

Meteorologists cannot pinpoint one particular cause for temperature drops, but say that temperatures for the year are about average.

"Despite the cold weather in December and what we had last January and February, we actually had some warmer weather," said Charleston National Weather Service meteorologist Pete Mohlin. "We are fairly close to what our average temperatures should be for the entire year."

Mohlin said everything from the blizzards up North to the systems moving through the South impact the overall outcome of the winter months, making it difficult to figure out the cause for certain temperature drops.

This year’s coldest high temperature recorded in Savannah — which is close enough to reflect most weather patterns in Hinesville — was 43.3 degrees on Tuesday, which is 9 degrees below what is considered to be an average high temperature for this time of year, the meteorologist said.

With the cold temperatures also come more home fires and busted water pipes, said Mike Hodges, director of the Liberty County Emergency Management Agency.

"You have to really think ahead. You have to wrap your pipes and make sure everything you do is ahead of time. Don’t wait last minute and don’t penny-pinch," he said of winterizing a house.

The director recommends looking for any drafts in the house and sealing each one appropriately — not painting windows shut because that’s a potential fire-escape hazard.

"Just really take an hour or two and see if you have a wind draft and it will save you in the long run," he said.

Wrapping pipes with cloth and covering faucets is also a good way to prevent pipes from bursting and causing flooding, and Hodges also recommends allowing faucets to drip during freezing temperatures because "moving water is at least twice as hard to freeze."

Pet owners should also bring pets inside since their bodies cannot handle the temperature drops, even if they enjoy being outside, he said.

 

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