Shelter for residents struggling with cold could open
The Gilmer County Public Safety team wants residents to know if they do not have heat during this frigid week of freezing temperatures during the day with dips into the teens and single digits at night, they should alert authorities.
A warming shelter can be set up at the Civic Center at 1561 S. Main St. in Ellijay.
“We’ve talked to (911) Dispatch and everyone we can in the community, trying to get the word out and monitoring things and letting people know if there’s anybody who comes up with the need for a warming shelter, we’ll absolutely put that in place,” said Fire/EMA Chief Tony Pritchett.
“It’s just hard for us to put somebody out there and staff it 24 hours a day without a need ... but we’ll absolutely make sure no one’s left out in the cold.”
Pritchett was asked about precautions his own staff is taking in the likelihood they will be called out to a wreck on the highway or house fire.
“The biggest thing for us is making sure all our equipment is good to go, and our folks are very well-dressed for the cold,” he said, turning to causes for his crews pulling on turnout gear.
“One thing we have a problem with in this generation of cold without a break to warm up is it requires people to use their heating appliances constantly without any break in between, and that reveals issues like electrical failures in the heating system or poorly-installed or maintained fireplaces, things like that.
“That can increase the chance of house fires.”
How about emergency calls thus far?
“So far, it has been quiet,” Pritchett said Tuesday morning. “We haven’t had any issues we can relate to the cold as far as fires, but we’re just now starting to get into that couple of days of duration to where the problems usually start.”
Winter weather prep tips
By Chris G. Patch, Ready Georgia
Prepare for winter weather
﹣ Prepare a Ready kit of emergency supplies for your home and car and include adequate clothing and blankets to keep you warm. In addition to the basic essentials, consider adding an ice scraper, extra blanket, sand for traction and jumper cables.
﹣ Ensure proper home insulation by placing weather stripping around doors and windows, allowing faucets to drip during cold weather to prevent freezing and opening cabinet doors to let heat reach uninsulated pipes under sinks and appliances near exterior walls.
﹣ Winterize your vehicle and keep your gas tank at least half full to prevent your fuel line from freezing.
Create a winter weather plan
﹣ Plan to stay inside, if necessary, for at least three days. If trapped outside during severe winter, try to stay dry, cover all body parts, periodically move limbs to keep blood circulating and build a fire, if possible.
﹣ Avoid traveling by car in icy conditions. If you must go out and do get stuck, stay with your car. Leave the overhead lights on when the engine is running so you can be seen.
﹣ Plan for pets to come inside and store adequate food and water for them.
﹣ Create an emergency communications plan so family members will know who to contact if separated during a storm. ﹣ Designate at least one out-of-town contact that all family members can call.
﹣ Use flashlights during power outages instead of candles to prevent the risk of fire, and have plenty of extra batteries on hand.
﹣ Never bring portable generators, camp stoves and grills into your home; they should only be used outside. Keep them at least 20 feet away from your home’s windows, doors and vents to prevent deadly carbon monoxide poisoning.
Stay informed about winter weather
﹣ Listen to a NOAA Weather Radio and monitor commercial radio, television and the internet to stay informed of winter weather.
﹣ Learn about the terms used to describe winter hazards such as freezing rain, sleet, winter weather advisory, winter storm watch and winter storm warning.
﹣ Know the symptoms of frostbite and hypothermia. If you suspect you have frostbite or hypothermia, get medical attention immediately.
﹣ Keep in mind that during a severe winter storm it could be hours, or even days, before emergency personnel are able to reach you, so be prepared to survive on your own for at least three days
﹣ Follow directions from local officials about driving during snow and ice storms, and drive with caution.
For more information on preparing for winter storms, visit www.ready.ga.gov. The site offers comprehensive preparedness tools and resources, including an interactive preparedness tool that generates customized checklists and communications plans so Georgians can take the guesswork out of getting ready for the unexpected.
For preparedness on the go, download Ready Georgia’s free mobile app.