Sharpen your axe and Be Prepared

  • Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Gotta cut a huge tree off your house? What if you have just five minutes to do it? How would you spend your time?

One idea that comes to mind was shared by a trainer years ago. Get your axe thatís part of the planning ahead youíve done, your trusty file you have in your toolkit, and spend three minutes sharpening the axe. Then go at it for two minutes.

With a sharp axe and two minutes of good effort, youíll make more progress than you would with five or even ten minutes with a dull axe.

Axes, chain saws, bow saws, shovels and many other tools are in evidence throughout Georgetown, Horry and Williamsburg counties as residents and businesses alike deal with fallen trees, branches, broken fences and no power and heat for days.

Some people were fortunate enough to have their electric power restored in short order, but many thousands of others werenít so lucky.

The idea of being prepared and having the right supplies is nothing new.

After all, in coastal South Carolina most everyone knows that we are subject to some of the same conditions in hurricane season.

Have enough food, water, clothing and hand tools to last at least three days. Keep some ready cash handy in case of bank and store closures.

Flashlights and radios with fresh batteries are good ideas.

If there are kids or grandkids that might stay with you, have games and books to help keep them occupied and engaged.

If you have a wood or gas fireplace, keep a supply of firewood or fuel handy.

By all means, do not use outdoor stoves inside. It may be tempting ó especially in cold weather ó but itís not safe.

And when youíre traveling, itís a good idea to keep at least a minimal supply of these same kinds of things with you. And add in a map so youíll know how to reach your destination.

Over the past couple of weeks, weíve had to deal with two bouts of cold, wintry weather. The scenery is beautiful and even breathtaking ó but you also need to be care of your breath.

Dress warmly, in layers. If you have to be outside wear layers, and especially a hat and gloves. A warm head and warm hands help your body core retain heat better and you donít waste your breath and your energy by losing heat through your extremities.

Some people decide to spend the money for a generator or a propane stove. Those can both be worthwhile investments, but only if theyíre maintained properly and ďfired upĒ periodically to make sure they will work when needed.

If you have to pull on a rope to start a generator, for instance, make sure it will start easily while the weather is good. Keeping some fuel in proper containers is important, but donít let that fuel get so old that itís gone stale and turned gummy. That can make it difficult or just about impossible to start the generator.

And when there is tough weather, by all means take care of yourself and help your neighbors. But remember, as well, that each of us is responsible for our own well-being.

In the current cold weather winter storm aftermath, hundreds ó even thousands ó of line crews are out and about doing their best to restore power.

On the Times Web site and Facebook page people appreciated the information we were able to gather and share. But many folks complained about not having power. A brief check of the Santee Electric Cooperative Web site shows that the outage has affected more than 40,000 member-customers in their four-county area, but fewer than 4,000 customers had called in to report an outage.

By the time this is in print, we hope just about everyone will have power restored, tree limbs are cleaned up and life can be getting back to normal.

But, donít forget about the cold, the long lines and the difficulties.

Power outages can occur at any time. People need food, water, clothing, shelter and other basic necessities all the time.

Prepare for these situations, make sure your supplies and equipment are in good working order, and sharpen your axe.

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