The News’ guide to deal­ing with the cold

Cold­est temps in a decade ex­pected

The Covington News - - FRONT PAGE - GABRIEL KHOULI gkhouli@cov­news.com

Next week is ex­pected to bring some of the cold­est weather At­lanta’s seen in a decade, and lo­cal of­fi­cials are urg­ing res­i­dents to take pre­cau­tions to pro­tect them­selves, their pets and their homes.

The cold front headed for mid­dle and north Ge­or­gia could drop tem­per­a­tures as low as 7 de­grees in At­lanta, bring­ing some snow and ice, while lin­ger­ing long enough to pose dan­ger to peo­ple, pets and prop­erty.

The fore­cast

The cold front will move in Sun­day evening and is ex­pected to drop tem­per­a­tures be­low freez­ing un­til Wed­nes­day morn­ing.

Some rain is likely late Sun­day evening and could turn into a win­try mix

early Sun­day with more snow pos­si­ble af­ter 4 a.m., ac­cord­ing to the Na­tional Weather Ser­vice fore­cast for Newton County. Sun­day’s low is ex­pected to be around 29 de­grees with winds get­ting up to 10-15 mph with po­ten­tial 30 mph gusts.

Af­ter a com­par­a­tively mild Mon­day, with a high near 31 de­grees but steady winds in the 20-25 mph range, Mon­day night’s tem­per­a­tures could drop to around 11 de­grees.

Tues­day is ex­pected to reach a high of 29, with Tues­day night tem­per­a­tures get­ting down to 17 de­grees, be­fore temps jump back up the rest of the week -— in­clud­ing a high of 42 Wed­nes­day and a high of 53 Fri­day.

The Na­tional Weather Ser­vice said At­lanta could see tem­per­a­tures as low as 7 de­grees on Tues­day, which would be the low­est seen in the city since Jan. 24, 2003. The cold weath could send tem­per­a­tures in the teens all the way south to Colum­bus.

Roads

Even if Newton County only gets rain, the cold and windy con­di­tions will freeze any mois­ture on the roads, the Na­tional Weather Ser­vice said, and of­fi­cials are urg­ing res­i­dents to be aware of black ice.

Newton County school buses won’t be run­ning un­til Tues­day morn­ing, so traf­fic should re­main a lit­tle lighter dur­ing what’s ex­pected to be the worst of the storm. Cov­ing­ton and county of­fi­cials didn’t name spe­cific roads driv­ers should be aware of, but Cov­ing­ton Deputy City Man­ager Billy Bouch­illon said any streets that re­ceive a lot of shade, like Geiger Street or Lochridge In­dus­trial Boule­vard, should be nav­i­gated care­fully. County Chair­man Keith El­lis said shady roads with lots of curves, like Elks Club Road, also pose ad­di­tional dan­gers in bad weather.

Both the city and county are more pre­pared than in years past as each pur­chased ex­tra equip­ment af­ter the win­ter storm in Jan­uary 2011 that shut down gov­ern­ment op­er­a­tions and mail ser­vice for a few days. The county now has two sand/salt spread­ers and the city has one spreader and one snow scraper.

Both gov­ern­ments keep teams of em­ploy­ees on standby in the event of a storm to go out and clear roads. El­lis said the county fo­cuses on putting sand/salt on bridges first and then fo­cuses on main roads, like Brown Bridge and Cov­ing­ton By­pass roads. The county stores sand and salt at strate­gic points around the county so em­ploy­ees can de­ploy it more ef­fi­ciently. Po­lice and sher­iff’s deputies will be pa­trolling roads and re­port­ing prob­lem spots, but res­i­dents can also call to re­port any bad roads. County res­i­dents can call pub­lic works at 770784-2097 or El­lis on his cell at 770-401-6801. City res­i­dents can re­port is­sues to 770-385-2075.

Wa­ter pipes

When tem­per­a­tures drop be­low freez­ing for ex­tended pe­ri­ods, wa­ter pipes can freeze and burst. The Weather Chan­nel’s web­site said pipes that aren’t in­su­lated or in heated ar­eas in South­ern states, where freez­ing tem­per­a­tures are rare, are sub­ject to freez­ing once the tem­per­a­ture out­side drops be­low 20 de­grees.

Mike Hop­kins, ex­ec­u­tive di­rec­tor of the Newton County Wa­ter and Sewerage Au­thor­ity, said one of the best ways to pro­tect ex­posed pipes that aren’t in heated ar­eas, such as pipes in un­heated base­ments and at­tics, is to wrap them with foam in­su­la­tion. Pipe foam in­su­la­tion can be pur­chased at hard­ware and other ma­jor re­tail stores.

Turn­ing faucets on to a slow drip is a com­mon method to pre­vent burst­ing pipes, but Hop­kins said that’s gen­er­ally only neces- sary in older homes.

The key with that method is to turn on the faucet fur­thest from where the wa­ter is en­ter­ing the home, Hop­kins said. So, if the wa­ter en­ters the home in the front of the house, you can turn on the out­side faucet at the back of the house; Hop­kins said gen­er­ally it’s only faucets out­side the house that need to drip. Hop­kins said another tip is to keep the tem­per­a­ture in the house a lit­tle higher than nor­mal to keep it con­stant, to al­low warmer am­bi­ent air to help keep pipes and other in­fra­struc­ture warmer. Hop­kins said peo­ple shouldn’t mess with the wa­ter me­ter boxes, but should call the wa­ter au­thor­ity or their wa­ter provider if they no­tice the lid is bro­ken or wa­ter is leak­ing.

Of­fi­cials also ad­vised busi­nesses to turn off their sprin­kler sys­tems to avoid cre­at­ing ice hazards.

Per­sonal safety

Out­door tem­per­a­tures are dan­ger­ous to any­one, but es­pe­cially chil­dren and el­derly res­i­dents, said Capt. Brian “Jack” Vechart, a shift cap­tain with Newton County Emer­gency Man­age­ment Ser­vices.

Vechart said bare skin presents the big­gest dan­ger as it can lead to frost­bite. He said if a per­son’s skin be­gins to feel numb, he or she needs to warm up im­me­di­ately.

A com­mon mis­con­cep­tion is that al­co­hol warms a per­son up, Vechart said, but it ac­tu­ally makes peo­ple more sus­cep­ti­ble to cold.

Vechart said small chil- dren are more sus­cep­ti­ble to the cold, be­cause their heads are so much larger com­pared to their body mass.

“That’s where we lose most of the heat, through the head, so it’s im­por­tant to wear a hat and, of course, gloves and things like that (to cover ex­posed skin),” Vechart said. “The big­gest thing is to dress in lay­ers and not be out any longer than you have to be.”

Cyd­nie Tay­lor, fire ed­u­ca­tor for Newton County, said peo­ple need to bring keep their pets and an­i­mals in­side dur­ing ex­treme low tem­per­a­tures.

Tay­lor also preached safety when us­ing heaters and other sources of warmth. Tay­lor said any­thing that can burn should be at least three feet away from a heater, chil­dren should be kept three feet away from heaters as well. Por­ta­ble heaters should be turned off when leav­ing a room, peo­ple should never use ovens to heat their homes, fire­places should be cleaned an­nu­ally, and ashes should cool be­fore be­ing dis­posed of. Jonathan Fuqua, Cov­ing­ton’s fire safety ed­u­ca­tor, said any­one us­ing a propane or kerosene heater should make sure there is an ac­tive carbon monox­ide de­tec­tor in the home.

Emer­gency gen­er­a­tors

Any Cov­ing­ton res­i­dent or util­ity cus­tomers who have life-sus­tain­ing med­i­cal equip­ment that is de­pen­dent on elec­tric­ity can sign up with the city of Cov­ing­ton to be on a list to re­ceive an emer­gency power gen­er­a­tor.

Capt. Tony Smith, the city’s fire mar­shal, said peo­ple can call City Hall at 770-385-2000 to get on the list. If they have an emer­gency and ex­pe­ri­ence a power out­age this weekend or be­fore they can sign up, res­i­dents should call 911 im­me­di­ately.

Smith said the city has 10 gen­er­a­tors and does its best to de­liver the gen­er­a­tors while also han­dling fire calls. Any­one who can af­ford a gen­er­a­tor should pur­chase one given the lim­ited num­ber of gen­er­a­tors and pos­si­bil­ity they may not be able to be de­liv­ered in a timely fash­ion.

Dar­rell Everidge/The Cov­ing­ton News

Olivia and Elaina Smith walk the Cov­ing­ton square bun­dled up, as highs reached only the mid-30’s Fri­day.

Dar­rell Everidge/The Cov­ing­ton News

Su­san Price & Robin Berry do a lit­tle shop­ping in the freez­ing weather Fri­day morn­ing. To­day and Mon­day will be even colder, re­quir­ing more pro­tec­tive win­ter gear.

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