For the past week Georgians have had to deal with bone chilling cold which has produced dead car batteries, rising heating bills and frozen water pipes. Daytime highs have been hovering around the freezing mark for the past week while night-time lows have plummeted to the teens and the media have told story after story about the challenges that Georgians, who are used to balmy weather even in the midst of winter, are facing. While most Georgians are accustomed to the occasional cold snap— grandmother used to say that a brief cold snap was good for eliminating pests which could haunt us in the spring— we did not expect to have an unrelenting week of Fridgedaire-type weather– and the worst may be yet to come. According to weather experts, we can expect a wintry mix to hit metro Atlanta on Thursday followed by bitterly cold weather this weekend, with Saturday lows in the mid-teens and highs in the mid-to upper 20’s.
Now is the time to prepare for severely cold weather this weekend. The American Red Cross offers these tips to stay safe now and for the rest of the winter:
- Dress in several layers of lightweight clothing, which will keep you warmer than a single heavy coat.
- Mittens provide more warmth to your hands than gloves.
- Most of your body heat is lost through your head. Wear a hat, preferably one that covers your ears.
- Seek medical attention immediately if you have symptoms of hypothermia including: confusion, dizziness, exhaustion and severe shivering.
- Seek medical attention immediately if you have symptoms of frostbite including: numbness, flushed gray, white, blue or yellow skin discoloration, numbness, or skin that appears waxy feeling skin.
- Wear waterproof, insulated boots to keep your feet warm and dry and to maintain your footing in ice and snow.
- Remove wet clothes immediately and help warm your core body temperature by wrapping yourself in a blanket or drinking warm fluids like hot cider or soup.
- Take frequent breaks and stay hydrated.
- Avoid drinking caffeine or alcohol if you think you might have hypothermia or frostbite.
Protect Yourself at Home:
- Be careful with candles – Do not use candles for lighting if the power goes out. Use flashlights only.
- Inspect fireplaces and wood stoves yearly – Use a sturdy fire screen with lit fires. Burn only wood – never burn paper or pine boughs.
- Use generators correctly –Never operate a generator inside your home, including the basement or garage. Do not hook up a generator directly to your home’s wiring. The safest thing to do is to connect the equipment you want to power directly to the outlets on the generator. Do not hook up a generator directly to your home’s wiring.
- Prevent frozen pipes – When the weather is very cold outside, open cabinet doors to let warm air circulate around water pipes. Let the cold water drip from the faucet served by exposed pipes. Running water through the pipe – even at a trickle – helps prevent pipes from freezing because the temperature of the water running through it is above freezing. Keep the thermostat set to a consistent temperature.
- Check smoke alarms – Make sure alarms are working properly and replace batteries as necessary.
- Be aware of overuse of electrical outlets – Don’t overload your electrical outlets. Be careful that extension cords don’t create hazardous walkways.
The Atlanta Red Cross has additional resources available. For more information call 404.876.3302 or visit www.atlantaredcross.org