Snow blankets Cokesbury Road, at the entrance to Forest Hills. The road was sparsely traveled as of 8:30 a.m. Wednesday. (Richard Whiting | Index-Journal)
COLUMBIA — Motorists are urged to stay off the roads as the threat of icy conditions continues to increase throughout the day Wednesday. Ice can be deceptively dangerous, difficult to anticipate and difficult to drive on. Bridges and overpasses will ice first.
The South Carolina Emergency Management Division, in coordination with the S.C. Department of Public Safety and S.C. Department of Transportation, strongly cautions motorists to stay off the roads until conditions improve.
The National Weather Service ice storm and winter weather warnings are in effect for most of South Carolina. Forecasters are predicting extremely hazardous conditions which will cause power outages and substantial structural damage because of falling trees and ice. SCDOT will focus on keeping highways passable for emergency purposes only. The overall goal is to keep all roads passable, but the extent of that challenge is unknown as weather conditions are expected to deteriorate throughout the day. Motorists who need to travel for emergency purposes are advised to first call 911 for emergency assistance. If it’s absolutely necessary to drive, motorists should reduce their speed, avoid SCDOT trucks on the road and closely follow travel information as the weather system brings changing conditions.
Utility companies began Monday positioning personnel and equipment to best address anticipated service outages. However, worsening and widespread weather conditions could hamper restoration efforts. Residents should be prepared for the loss of electricity to their home for extended periods of time.
The following safety tips are recommended:
— While you still have electricity, keep mobile devices plugged in with a full charge. When power goes out, use your phone sparingly, for emergency calls, etc.
— Report downed power lines to the local power provider. Do not touch the wires or drive over them.
— Portable generators should not be used in any enclosed space, including a garage. Follow operating instructions and do not plug the generator into home electrical sockets.
— Gas stovetops, gas ovens and charcoal grills are unsafe heat sources for indoor use. These heat sources can release harmful or even fatal emissions when used in an enclosed space.
— Use battery powered lights instead of candles. If you must use candles as emergency lighting, be aware they can be dangerous.
— Individuals who have life-sustaining medical needs like oxygen or who are in need of dialysis should call 911 in the event they do not have electricity.