With temperatures dropping into the teens and severe winter weather at hand, St. Clair County residents have been advised to take precautionary measures, both inside their homes and if they venture out onto the roads. Everyone should take a few minutes to check the pipes in your home. The frigid temperatures can cause pipes to freeze and burst, destroying floors, furniture, appliances and treasured family heirlooms. A few simple precautionary measures can help avoid the headache and aggravation caused by water damage.

“A small crack in a pipe can leak water at a volume of 14 gallons a minute causing thousands of dollars in damage in a very short period of time,” says State Farm spokesman Roszell Gadson. “In most cases, water losses can be avoided by taking a few simple precautions. Spending a few minutes to protect your pipes could save you time and expense down the road.”

Minimize the chance your pipes will freeze by insulating pipes in unheated areas and those that run along outside walls, floors and ceilings. Disconnect outside garden hoses and seal foundation cracks that let arctic air freeze pipes in crawlspaces.

A few simple tasks can help protect pipes and homes when a severe freeze is predicted:

-Open cabinet doors to allow heat to get to piping under sinks and vanities near exterior walls.

-Run a small trickle of water from hot and cold faucets during extreme cold.

-Keep exterior doors to unheated spaces closed as much as possible during winter months.

-If you are taking a short trip or own a business that will be unoccupied for more than 24 hours, make arrangements to have the dwelling checked regularly during severe cold spells. Discovering a burst pipe or water leak quickly can prevent excessive damage.

Dangerous driving conditions can also be expected during the season. Winter driving conditions can turn treacherous in an instant. Snow, ice, poor visibility and extreme cold can disable your vehicle or make roads impassable.

 Winter driving has its own set of challenges, from the moment you start up your vehicle. Here are some useful winter driving suggestions:

-Never warm up your vehicle in a closed garage.

-Keep your gas tank at least half full to prevent gas line freeze-up.

-Make sure your exhaust pipe is not clogged with mud or snow.

-Don't use cruise control on icy roads.

-Allow more time for braking when visibility is poor.

-Stay calm if you start to skid.

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