Residents battle frigid temperatures

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  • LOREN BENOIT/Press Ginno Construction employees Micky Litschewski, left, and John Hauser measure a piece of wood for the outside ceiling of the new Four Corners Carousel amid frigid temperatures Thursday afternoon.

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    LOREN BENOIT/Press John Hauser, with Ginno Construction, works on the new Four Corners Carousel amid frigid temperatures Thursday afternoon in Coeur d’Alene.

  • LOREN BENOIT/Press Ginno Construction employees Micky Litschewski, left, and John Hauser measure a piece of wood for the outside ceiling of the new Four Corners Carousel amid frigid temperatures Thursday afternoon.

  • 1

    LOREN BENOIT/Press John Hauser, with Ginno Construction, works on the new Four Corners Carousel amid frigid temperatures Thursday afternoon in Coeur d’Alene.

When battling this dangerously frigid weather, common sense may be the best tool to help you win the fight.

Local response agencies and auto repair shops have tended to a myriad of issues during this week's cold snap that could have easily been prevented with — as easy as it sounds — proper preparation and common sense, sources say.

Rescue crews responded to a possible drowning on Wednesday on Lower Twin Lake after a resident thought someone had fallen through the ice due to equipment that was left on the lake.

"It turned out that the items were just left there," said Jim Lyon, Northern Lakes Fire District spokesman.

"Fortunately, everyone was fine but emergency responders donned survival gear and went out onto the ice to ensure nothing was wrong."

Lyon said leaving the items on the lake led to multiple agencies and crews responding.

"Take your items with you so others don't worry about your safety," he said.

Meteorologist Randy Mann said local residents will have to deal with the tough weather a few more days.

"It's been brutally cold," he said, referring to the single-digit high temperatures that have been bone-chilling but not records. "We've been seeing 20 degrees below normal for highs. We're seeing the coldest weather of the season right now."

He said this weekend should have slightly warmer temperatures and there's a chance of freezing rain and snow Sunday night into Monday. He said temperatures could rise into the low 40s in the middle of the month.

"We may be talking about thaw in two weeks," he said.

But the area isn't out of the woods with issues related to the frigid weather, Lyon said.

Lyon said the district recently responded to a house fire but the response was hampered due to a steep driveway that was not plowed.

"If you have a long or steep driveway, keep it maintained at all times," he said.

Lyon said it's also important to have addresses clearly visible, especially in rural areas where the home is not next to the main road, and fire hydrants in your neighborhood accessible to assist with emergency efforts.

Freezing fire sprinkler pipes, which can disable the system, are common during cold spells, Lyon said.

"Always make sure you keep current on sprinkler inspections to ensure they are working properly," he said. "This is especially important on vacant buildings."

While heating homes or shops, Lyon said residents should not use unapproved propane or charcoal heat devices as they present fire danger.

"Most of these appliances are intended for well-ventilated, outdoors use," he said.

Nate Benz, service manager at Silverlake Automotive, said his shop has helped an increasing number of residents whose vehicles won't start or barely do.

"Generally, it's battery-related," he said. "Cold weather is really hard on batteries."

Another problem the shop has seen is washer bottles freezing due to not having alcohol-based fluid in them to prevent freezing.

Benz said tire pressure tends to drop during cold weather, oftentimes triggering warning lights.

"That generally happens after the first freeze and subsides after you make the adjustments," he said.

•••

Frigid weather tips

• Check on your family, friends and neighbors, especially the elderly and disabled

• Have a winter inspection done on your vehicle to check on the battery, fluids, wiper blades and tires

• Keep your vehicles filled up as much as possible

• Allow extra time for trips

• Have extra clothing, food, water, flashlight, a blanket and jumper cables in your vehicle

• Make sure your kids are dressed appropriately for the weather.

• Make sure your pets have shelter

• Have your cell phone with you

• If you have a baby in the vehicle, have extra supplies, diapers and formula

• Warm up your car before leaving and clear the windshields

• Use smooth driving movements

• Drive according to weather conditions (Driving too slow may present a hazard, so it may be better to stay home until the conditions improve.)

• If you become stalled or lost, don’t panic. Think the problem through and decide what’s the safest thing to do.

• Advise someone of your travel route and stick to it.

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