How to protect yourself during an ice storm
Seems like we only get hit by ice storms a couple of times a year, but the immediate and long-term damage can be enormous. A few basic precautions can reduce both damage and danger. Georgia was famous for pine and pine products. From pine tar and turpentine to pulp wood and lumber, pines produced a bounty for the state. Pines were, and are, everywhere. But they don’t need to be close to your home.
Besides the year-round annoyance of pine straw in the gutters, pines present a particular hazard during ice storms. The evergreen needles allow severe ice and snow accumulation on relatively fragile limbs. During heavy icing, the continuous sound of snapping pine branches can generate the noise of a busy rifle range. Branches break, branches fall, anything below takes a hit. Sometimes, however, it gets worse. Sometimes the whole tree breaks off. Falling pine tree plus house or car equals a call to the insurance company. Now, I’m not suggesting eradicating pines from the home place. Just be sure that there are none closer to your home than their height. If you’ve got an 80-foot pine 40 feet from the house, you’re playing dice with the ice devils.
Beware of ice-melting products on your walkways and drives. Best information from highway department research indicates that most “salt” preparations will cause eventual damage to concrete, metal and electrical installations. The other issue is the melt/freeze cycle itself. The repetitive collapse and expansion of water within the surface of the concrete breaks up the finish surface and, over time, destroys the matrix of cement and aggregate that comprises the basic structure. The object is to keep yourself and others from falling down, right? Inert materials such as sand and gravel will help produce a non-skid surface without the chemical and mechanical damage associated with salt.
Okay, through no fault of your own, the ice storm has left you bereft of electricity. The power company guys are freezing their fingers off trying to get you lit up again, but the job might take days. What to do? Generators work wonders, but, improperly located, they can be deadly. Every year folks are terminated by carbon monoxide because a portable generator was positioned where the products of incomplete combustion could get into the living space.
Same result is possible for any unvented combustion heater. Ensure any combustion exhaust is excluded from the living area. Carefully read and scrupulously follow the directions on catalytic heaters and others marketed for unvented indoor use. Read the warnings and cautions ‘til you feel a little silly about it, and be sure to do what they say. The manufacturers have invested lots of time and money in the composition of these instructions so that they will be safe from litigious encounters with your survivors and, of course, so that you will have a safe and satisfactory encounter with their product. Remember that many of these heaters are “radiant” heaters. They heat the surface to which they are directed but only heat the “space” indirectly, as the warmed surfaces lose heat to the surrounding air. Finally, as Mom always said, “Dress warm, honey, and don’t get your feet wet.”
Tune in to The Bob and RodMan Home Show every Saturday from 9 to 11 a.m. on 920 AM-WGKA to learn how to improve your house or apartment. RodMan is a certified home inspector, knows residential property appraisal and is a hands-on home renovator. Bob owned a roofing company, has reclaimed distressed properties for years and has Master Licenses as a plumber, electrician and HVAC mechanic. www.bobandrodman.com