Special to the Journal
GEMA’s Ready Georgia campaign promotes Winter Weather Awareness Week on Dec. 2-6
(ATLANTA) Although the winter season doesn’t officially start until late December, that hasn’t stopped Mother Nature from serving up an early taste, recently blanketing Georgia with frosty temperatures and freeze warnings. And as holiday shoppers prepare for the winter festivities, experts warn the chilly days ahead could bring potential dangers, including hazardous road conditions and power outages.
To encourage Georgians to prepare for severe weather before it hits, the National Weather Service and the Georgia Emergency Management Agency/Homeland Security (GEMA) have proclaimed Dec. 2-6 as Winter Weather Awareness Week.
“Although snow and ice aren’t as commonly associated with Georgia as other parts of the country, even small amounts here can cause significant problems,” said Charley English, director of GEMA/Homeland Security. “Winter Weather Awareness Week isn’t just a time to learn about severe weather. It’s a time to take action, such as creating a family communications plan and shopping for cold weather emergency supplies.”
To help residents prepare, plan and stay informed about winter, GEMA’s Ready Georgia campaign – the state’s resource on disaster preparation – offers these 12 safety tips:
When the weather outside is frightful, make sure you know the terms used to describe winter hazards such as freezing rain, sleet, winter weather advisory, winter storm watch and winter storm warning.’
Don’t be a Grinch when it comes to purchasing and compiling the appropriate emergency supplies. Pack a Ready kit for both house and vehicle that includes warm clothes and blankets, at least a three-day supply of non-perishable food and water and flashlights with extra batteries in case of a power outage. Also include items that support the unique needs of different family members, such as medications, children’s toys and pet food.
Heading to grandmother’s house for the holidays? Fully winterize your vehicle first. Have a mechanic check antifreeze levels, brakes, heater and defroster, tires, windshield wipers and more to ensure they are in good shape. Don’t forget to pack jumper cables, maps, rock salt, a snow shovel, ice scraper and pet litter to create traction.
If you plan to go dashing through the snow, drive your sleigh safely. Always keep your gas tank at least half full to keep the fuel line from freezing. Let someone know your destination, route and when you expect to arrive.
Deck the halls with tinsel and festive decorations, but keep them away from pets and small children. Secure ornaments and lights tightly to trees to prevent mischievous pets and toddlers from grabbing or ingesting them. Did you know holly, mistletoe and poinsettia plants are poisonous to dogs and cats? If using them, place in an area that your pet can’t reach.
Keep warm on frosty days by weather-proofing your house. Place stripping around doors and windows to ensure proper home insulation. Allow faucets to drip during cold weather to prevent freezing and open cabinet doors to let heat reach uninsulated pipes under sinks and appliances near exterior walls.
Regardless of the chill, never use a stove or oven to heat your house. In addition, never bring portable generators, camp stoves or grills into the home; they should be kept outside and at least 20 feet away from windows, doors and vents.
Want to roast chestnuts over an open fire? Do it safely. Make sure you have your chimney cleaned and inspected every year. If you have a wood burning fireplace, store extra wood in case winter weather knocks out your heat.
Playing outside during winter can be fun, but bundle up accordingly and know the symptoms of frostbite and hypothermia. If you suspect you have either one, get medical attention immediately.
Looking for a good holiday gift? How about the gift of preparedness? Buy loved ones a NOAA weather radio or other key emergency supplies to keep them safe.
Don’t wait until New Year’s to make resolutions. Make emergency preparedness a priority and take action now to be prepared to prevent and respond to any family emergency in 2014.
And finally…no matter how much someone double dog dares you, never stick your tongue to a flagpole when it’s cold out.