Public Safety

Photo: Jacqueline Radin

CLEAR THE WALK When we get an inch or more of snow or ice, residents have 12 hours and businesses have four hours after the end of the snowfall to clear the sidewalk in front of your property or be subject to a citation. When snow is in the forecast, move your car off the street between 9 p.m. and 6 a.m. Even if you previously received permission to park on the street, that permission is suspended when the plows need to get through.

 

AND CLEAR THE CAR You may be dreaming of a white Christmas, but you gotta get that stuff off your car before you take it out. As you are clearing your windshield and windows, remember to take the snow off the roof and the back of your vehicle. If a big chunk of ice-crusted snow slides off your car and causes an accident, you could be subject to fines up to $1,000.

 

LOOK UP LEBO The cold makes everyone want to walk fast and get where they’re going, but don’t make the mistake of putting your safety at risk. Make sure you give a thorough look for vehicles when you cross the street and allow extra time if the roads are slippery. Drivers may not have the same ability to stop in winter.

 

HOLIDAY FIRE SAFETY If you’re not planning to have the fire department over for the holidays, they have a few suggestions for having a quiet holiday.

Don’t overload your electrical outlets. Check whether your lights are rated for indoor, outdoor or both, but only use in approved locations. If you have more than three strands of lights connected, separate them.

Recycle your evergreen. Waste Management will collect your Christmas trees curbside on a couple of Saturdays in January. Don’t put it—or any evergreen wreaths—in the fireplace. Evergreens are high in resins, which are highly flammable. Also keep colored wrapping paper out of the fireplace, because it contains toxic metals that are released when the paper is burned.

Cut down on candles. If you want to have candles as part of your holiday decorations, the safest way to go is with electric ones. If you want to use candles with flames, don’t leave them unattended and keep pets and kids away from them.

Space heater safety If you are going to use space heaters, make sure they are at least three feet away from anything flammable and only plug them directly into an outlet: no extension cords or power strips.

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FROZEN (NOT THE MOVIE)

The pipes in your house.That’s a movie nobody wants to see. Pennsylvania American Water has some advice:

Before frigid weather sets in:

Know what areas of your home, such as basements, crawl spaces, unheated rooms and outside walls, are most vulnerable to freezing.

Eliminate sources of cold air near water lines by repairing broken windows, insulating walls, closing off crawl spaces and eliminating drafts near doors.

Know the location of your main water shutoff valve. If a pipe freezes or bursts, shut the water off immediately.

Protect your pipes and water meter. Wrap exposed pipes with insulation or use electrical heat tracing wire; newspaper or fabric might also work. For outside meters, keep the lid to the meter pit closed tightly and let any snow that falls cover it. Snow acts as insulation, so don’t disturb it.

When temperatures are consistently at or below freezing:

If you have pipes that are vulnerable to freezing, allow a small trickle of water to run overnight to keep pipes from freezing. The cost of the extra water is low compared to the cost to repair a broken pipe.

Open cabinet doors to expose pipes to warmer room temperatures to help keep them from freezing.

If your pipes freeze:

Shut off the water immediately. Don’t attempt to thaw frozen pipes unless the water is shut off. Freezing can often cause unseen cracks in pipes or joints.

Apply heat to the frozen pipe by warming the air around it, or by applying heat directly to a pipe. Use a hair dryer, space heater or hot water. Be sure not to leave space heaters unattended, and avoid the use of kerosene heaters or open flames.

Once the pipes have thawed, turn the water back on slowly and check for cracks and leaks.

When you are away:

Have someone check your property to ensure that the heat is working and the pipes have not frozen. You can buy a freeze alarm for less than $100 that will call a number you supply if the inside temperature drops below 45 degrees.

If you see a leak, or your water service is disrupted, please contact Pennsylvania American’s customer service center at 1-800-565-7292.