Emergency director gives cold safety tips
by Wes Mayer
With temperatures dipping into the teens and single digits earlier this week, there are a few precautions Georgians should remember to take in order to stay safe in cold weather.
“It’s early in the season,” said Jay Jones, Coweta County director of Emergency Management. “We could have another cold snap, but hopefully not any colder than it is now.”
Fortunately, Jones said this week’s cold weather has not been accompanied by any ice or snow storms, but he listed a number of precautions for Cowetans to follow nonetheless. First, he said residents should stay knowledgeable about the weather, and in the case of an emergency, have a plan. Residents should go to www.ready.ga.gov to get information about building a ready kit and how to be prepared for a number of emergency situations.
On top of that, he said residents should be certain to dress in dry layers with gloves and hats if they go outside, and they should not stay outside any longer than possible. If outside, be wary of frozen bodies of water like ponds, especially with small children or animals — although it’s cold, ice won’t support the weight of even a child or animal. Outdoor animals should be brought inside when possible.
Jones also said people going outdoors should be aware of the warning signs of frostbite — extremities gain a white or pale appearance and may lose feeling. Fingers, toes, ears and noses are the most likely to be affected by frostbite. Hyperthermia is worse, and anyone experiencing symptoms of uncontrollable shivering, memory loss, disorientation, incoherence, slurred speech drowsiness and exhaustion should seek medical attention immediately, he said.
Indoors, if using alternate heat sources such as a space heater, homeowners should make sure they are not near flammable items, furniture or carpet. Homeowners should never use an oven or grill as a heat source, only heaters approved for use indoors. Jones said to make sure to check on smoke and carbon monoxide detectors, and homeowners should contact the local fire department if they have any questions.
To prevent water pipes from bursting, Jones said homeowners should take the time to wrap exposed pipes with thermal tape. Indoor faucets should be turned on a slow drip, and cabinet doors under sinks should be opened to allow heat to reach indoor pipes to prevent freezing. Jones said homeowners might want to check with their plumbers for advice on protecting their pipes.
Residents should avoid travelling by car in icy conditions, Jones said, but, if necessary, they should prepare for emergencies. This includes keeping a ready kit inside their vehicle with additions like drinking water, an ice scraper, blankets, sand for traction and jumper cables. If stuck, motorists should remain with their vehicles and leave the overhead lights on with the engine running so they can be seen.
Drivers should check their vehicles’ tire pressure and battery, Jones said. In the colder temperatures, drivers should keep their gasoline tanks at least halfway full to prevent their fuel lines from freezing.