Don't let a big freeze catch you unprepared

Finding yourself stranded in your car due to treacherous conditions like snow, ice, poor visibility and slick roads, only to discover you have junk in the trunk rather than roadside emergency supplies, can place you and your family in jeopardy, says a news release from State Farm Insurance.

According to a new survey by State Farm and KRC Research, more than 60 percent of drivers had some sort of non-emergency supplies in their trunk. Although 99 percent of drivers had at least one emergency supply in their vehicle, such as a spare tire or jumper cables, a mere 9 percent carried all of the emergency roadside supplies experts consider essential – jumper cables, a spare tire, a hazard triangle or road flares, a flashlight, a first aid kit, water and a blanket.

Insurance experts also encourage homeowners to think about keeping their homes safe when the mercury drops. When outside temperatures drop below 20 degrees Fahrenheit, water pipes in homes with little or no insulation are likely to freeze and break. A 1/8-inch crack in a pipe can spew out more than 250 gallons of water a day, destroying floors, soaking furniture and ruining personal items. Cleaning up after a pipe burst is time consuming and smelly work, made even more difficult by frigid temperatures.

To protect pipes and homes, experts advise homeowners to do two things when a severe freeze is predicted. Open cabinet doors so heat can get to piping under sinks and vanities near exterior walls, and run a small trickle of water at vulnerable faucets.

Pipes that run along outside walls, floors and ceilings are vulnerable, so make sure they are insulated. Wrap exposed pipes with insulating sleeves or tape. Homeowners should also disconnect outside garden hoses and seal foundation cracks that let arctic air freeze pipes in crawlspaces.

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