With frigid temperatures on the way, experts offer tips to keep Hoosiers safe

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INDIANAPOLIS – Bitterly cold air is expected to make its way through central Indiana this weekend.

CBS4 meteorologists say temperatures are going to remain below the freezing mark for the next several days.

On Sunday night, meteorologists predict temperatures will dip down to single digits with potential for subzero wind chills. The last time temperatures fell below 10 degrees was Valentine’s Day of 2020.

As Hoosiers prepare for the incoming blast of cold air and snow predicted to fall Saturday night, there are some things you can do to help protect yourself, loved ones and your homes.

With the potential for the recent wintery mix and flash freeze to create black ice on secondary roads or untreated surfaces, people should use caution when walking outside.

Ron Kraus, a clinical nurse specialist at Indiana University Health Methodist’s emergency department, said most of the winter-related injuries are due to slips, trips or falls on slick surfaces.

“The resulting injuries from that whether that be bruising, head injuries, or possible fractures or dislocations,” he said. “Certainly they can be severe, but for the vast majority of them, they are not.”

Kraus said it’s a reminder for people to take it a bit slower, pay attention to your surroundings and take small strides when walking on slick surfaces.

“Be aware, be prepared and take it a little bit slower,” he said.

“Our admissions trend with whatever the weather might be, you know when it gets hot it’s a little bit more heat-related, when it gets cold it’s a little bit more weather-related in that aspect,” said Kraus.

Before you head outside, local plumbers offer several easy tips to help protect your home from suffering any pipe-related damage.

“We spend a lot of time trying to educate people on what to do for winter stuff,” said Jack Hope, one of the owners of Hope Plumbing in Indianapolis.

He said the easiest, most foolproof trick of all might cost you several extra dollars on your water bill, but is no comparison to the amount of money you could possibly need to spend fixing your home if pipes burst.

“Run water at any faucet on an outside wall, so like this sink is on an outside wall, often times bathtubs are on an outside wall, just anything that’s near an outside wall,” he said.

Hope explained you would want to run a constant small, steady stream of water on as many fixtures as you can in your home.

“One big, important thing to do is make sure that you’re running both hot and cold.  So if you’re running just cold the hot line can freeze or vice versa.”

“You spend an extra $12 on water for three days or something — way better than having a flood,” Hope said.

He said the amount of money people have to spend when something like this occurs has more to do with the repairs than the actual plumbing fixes.

“We’ve seen people with horror stories where they’re out of town and they come home and something exploded and like $20,000 worth of damage, the second floor drops through.”

He said their company sees the majority of these problems occur when several days in a row remain at cold temperatures.  He recommends this easy solution to prevent people from encountering the problem of pipes bursting.

“One of the big problems is there’s only so much we can do once a line freezes, so the first thing that will happen is it will freeze and then you’ll go to turn the faucet on and nothing will come out,” said Hope. “When you actually have the problem is when the line thaws up so the water will freeze and usually it will split that copper pipe with a little crack in it and when it thaws out is when it starts spraying.”

Hope also offered several other suggestions to help people protect their homes in extreme cold.

He said it’s important to make sure people disconnect their hose from the outside faucet. “Definitely make sure you do that.”

“If you have an old drafty basement warm it up, put a space heater down there. Just like a box fan blowing warm air around so it’s not just piled up in one area,” he said.

Deputy Chief Mike Pruitt of the Bargersville Fire Department said anyone using space heaters in their home should practice good safety.

“They can be a benefit, but if used incorrectly they can become very dangerous,” he said.

Pruitt reminds people to keep space heaters away from anything that can be combustible, including items like paper, wood and blankets.

He said he has seen firsthand situations turn tragic after a space heater caused a fire in a home.

“We want to keep those three feet away. We want to make sure we shut them off when we go to bed at night,” he added.

He said although it does not sound ideal, adding extra blankets is a much safer option in the winter time than sleeping with a space heater on.

Pruitt offered additional suggestions for Hoosiers to stay safe. He said avoid using things like an oven to heat your home, make sure you have a working carbon monoxide detector and smoke alarms, and have additional batteries for those on hand.

The Indiana Region of the American Red Cross on Friday offered tips to Hoosiers to stay safe in extreme cold. You can read those below.

INDOOR SAFETY TIPS:

  • Bring your companion animals indoors.
  • Learn how to protect pipes from freezing.
  • If you must use a space heater, place it on a level, hard and nonflammable surface, such as a ceramic tile floor. Don’t place it on rugs and carpets, or near bedding and drapes; keep away children and pets.
  • Plug space heater power cords directly into outlets – never into an extension cord.
  • Never use a cooking range or oven to heat your home.

OUTDOOR SAFETY TIPS (IF YOU MUST GO OUTSIDE):

  • Make any trips outside as brief as possible.
  • Wear layered clothing, mittens or gloves, and a hat. Outer garments should be tightly woven and water repellent. Mittens or gloves and a hat will prevent the loss of body heat.
  • Cover your mouth to protect your lungs from severely cold air. Avoid taking deep breaths; minimize talking.
  • Watch for hypothermia and frostbite. Hypothermia symptoms include confusion, dizziness, exhaustion and severe shivering. Frostbite symptoms include numbness, flushed gray, white, blue or yellow skin discoloration, numbness, or waxy feeling skin.

“As we brace for frigid weather, we have tips everyone can follow to stay safe,” explained LaMar Holliday, regional communications director for the American Red Cross – Indiana Region. “Whether trying to keep your home warm or—if you must—going outdoors, there are steps you can take to prepare.”

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