New year welcomed by abnormally low temps in area

New year welcomed by abnormally low temps in

MACOUPIN COUNTY (Jan. 4, 2018) – It has been an extended period of cold temperatures in the area. In fact, above freezing temperatures haven’t been seen in these parts since Dec. 23.

There are ways to combat the cold and take care of your house, car and pets during the coldest stretch of the winter season.

Jim Pitchford, Macoupin County’s Emergency Management Agency Coordinator, said the temperature dropped to a low of negative-12 degrees Monday morning in the county.

He recommends that people just stay put until the temperatures rebound, otherwise frostbite and other issues could reke havoc on people.

“Stay inside,” Pitchford said when asked about tips for keeping safe during the cold weather. “Dress in warm layers if you have to go outside. But it’s better to stay indoors where it’s nice and warm.

“With the wind chill as its been, it’ll take 10 to 12 minutes for skin to freeze. My best advice is to stay indoors.”

In Bunker Hill last Wednesday, reports of a power outage affecting approximately 1100 was reported around 6 a.m. This was due to a downed overhead wire. Power was restored to all customers by 12:41 p.m.

The blame for the recent cold snap is a long stretch of bitter cold Arctic air, according to WICS-TV Chief Meteorologist Cheryl Lemke.

Lemke said Monday was the coldest thus far, with the New Year’s Day low temperature of -13 tying a record in Springfield from 1974. Champaign had a record-low of -15 and Peoria’s record-low of -16 broke a record of -14 set in 1968.

Wind chills in Springfield were at negative 30 Monday morning, Lemke added.

Temperatures will remain grounded through Friday, before a hint of a warmup over the weekend, Lemke said.

“Temperatures will remain a solid 20-25 degrees below normal through Friday, but then moderate over the weekend with highs back into the mid-30s on Sunday, which will be the first time we’ll be above freezing since December 23,” Lemke said. “While central Illinois can expect Arctic blasts during any given winter season, usually they last only a few days and then warm up briefly. But this latest cold spell has been very prolonged and sustained, and that’s why we all need to be extra careful to dress in layers and not be outside too long.”

Cold weather safety tips

FLASH, the non-profit group Federal Alliance for Safe Homes, offers several tips to keep families safe during inclement weather conditions and power outages.

Protecting one’s home can be done for a little as $1 per six feet of insulation to stop pipes from freezing during winter and when the power is lost.

Insulating pipes exposed to cold drafts or elements with insulating foam can also save energy.

Faucets can be turned on a slow drip to help reduce the build-up of pressure in the pipes. Even if the pipes freeze, pressure has been released from the water system, reducing the chances of a rupture in the pipe.

Families should keep a supply kit on hand, including flashlights, batteries and battery-powered radio.

Keeping a vehicle at least half-full of gas would be beneficial as some gas stations may not have backup power as they rely solely on electricity to operate their pumps.

Volunteering to help check on elderly neighbors, friends, or relatives that may need assistance during an outage is also recommended.

If using a gas heater or fireplace, make sure the area is properly ventilated.

Keep a supply of non-perishable foods, medicine, baby supplies and pet food on hand and have at least one gallon of water per person per day on hand.  Avoid opening the fridge or freezer.

Generators should not be run inside a home or garage. Use gas-powered generators in well-ventilated areas only.

Ameren also provided a list of things to do during the winter to make your house more energy efficient.

Those include opening curtains during the day when the sun is shining to help warm a room, closing them at night and on gloomy days.

Replacing furnace filters monthly, closing the damper to a fireplace when not in use, and only heat the rooms you need, closing vents and doors to unused rooms.

Ceiling fans can be used at low speed in a clockwise direction, moving war air away from the ceiling and down to the floor.

Plastic film kits can be used to keep excess air out of older or leaky windows, or use weather stripping and caulk to reduce air leaks. Also check for air leaks in the basement.