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      Helpful hints to combat the harsh winter weather

      A major cold snap has moved into much of the U.S. and along with it severe winter weather systems are bringing all types of wintry precipitation to the lower 48 including bitter cold temperatures that are well below average even for early December.

      As residents of the Tri-States are aware, we too are experiencing this cold burst of air. We will have the chance for some accumulating snow in the area on Sunday and on Sunday night. One to three inches of snow will be possible.

      Fortunately for us, the worst of the winter storms will occur south and east of the Tri-States where a nasty combo of freezing rain, sleet and snow will ravage those areas and result in power outages and hazardous travel for the next several days.

      Temperatures in the Tri-States likely will not rise above the freezing mark of 32 degrees at any time for the better portion of at least the next week up to maybe ten days out. Simply amazing when you realize that the winter season has not even officially begun yet (starts December 21).

      A group called the Insurance Institute for Business & Home Safety (IBHS), a national research and communications organization, offers severe winter weather guidance for home and business owners who may be looking for advice on how to handle the riggers of winter life here in the U.S.

      The IBHS can help you reduce damage to your property from freezing weather by visiting http://www.disaster

      "We urge everyone in the path of these severe storms to stay tuned to the National Weather Service advisories, and use IBHS risk reduction recommendations to protect their homes and businesses today, and throughout this winter season," Julie Rochman, IBHS president and CEO said.

      The organization also offers helpful ideas regarding alternative heating as a great way to stay warm during the cold weather, and recognizes that its use comes with risks. They suggest residents check the IBHS' advice before selecting or installing an alternative heating source by visiting http://www.disaster

      Also important is the need to build a plan for what happens if you encounter a power outage. The folks at the IBHS say that heavy snow and high winds are a recipe for widespread power outages. It's important to prepare a plan now before a possible outage. Learn how you can use alternative heat sources and generators safely during a power outage by going to the internet address http://www.disaster safety/build-a-plan-for-a-power-outage/.

      The IBHS understands that heavy snowfall can really strain roofs and cause significant damage and even potential collapse. They say that unless your roof structure is damaged or decayed, most residential roofs, regardless of the location of the house, should be able to support 20 pounds of snow per square foot of roof space before they become stressed. They state that you can determine how much the snow/ice on your roof weighs by using the IBHS information below.

      Fresh snow:10-12 in. of new snow is equal to 1 inch of water, or about 5 lbs. per square foot of roof space, so you could have up to 4 feet of new snow before the roof will become stressed.

      Packed snow:3-5 in. of old snow is equal to 1 inch of water, or about 5 lbs. per square foot of roof space, so anything more than 2 feet of old snow could be too much for your roof to handle.

      Total accumulated weight:2 ft. of old snow and 2 feet of new snow could weigh as much as 60 lbs. per square foot of roof space, which is beyond the typical snow load capacity for most roofs.

      Ice:1 inch of ice equals 1 foot of fresh snow.

      The IBHS also says that when there is too much snow on your roof, find out how to safely remove it by visiting http://www.disaster

      Frozen pipes are one of the biggest problems home-owners and business owners run into when the temperatures drop below the freezing mark. In fact, the group says that a burst pipe can result in more than $5,000 in water damage, according to IBHS research. Prevent a costly water damage by using the following guidance.

      - Provide a reliable back-up power source to ensure continuous power to the building.

      - Insulate all attic penetrations.

      - Ensure proper seals on all doors and windows.

      - Seal all wall cracks and penetrations, including domestic and fire protection lines, electrical conduit, other utility service line, etc.

      - Install insulation and/or heat trace tape with a reliable power source on various wet sprinkler system piping. This includes main lines coming up from underground passing through a wall as well as sprinkler branch lines.

      - Place a monitored automatic excess flow switch on the main incoming domestic water line to provide early detection of a broken pipe or valve when the space is unoccupied.

      As always keep it tuned to KHQA-TV for the the latest on any harsh wintry weather that develops this winter season and look for ongoing updates on our Facebook page and Twitter at