Officials: Prepare for freezing temperatures
by Michelle Babcock
January 02, 2014 11:00 PM | 2199 views | 0 0 comments | 18 18 recommendations | email to a friend | print
With freezing temperatures and rain in Cherokee County’s forecast through the middle of next week, officials are warning residents to prepare and use caution.

Robby Westbrook, director of the Cherokee Sheriff’s Office’s Division of Emergency Management, said extremely cold temperatures could cause problems for residents.

Westbrook said rain, wind and freezing temperatures can cause dangerous driving conditions. Drivers should be aware of the possibility of black ice and downed trees and power lines.

“With more than 48 hours straight with below freezing temperatures, this can cause problems both at home and with your car,” Westbrook said.

Cherokee County doesn’t have a shelter where homeless people can stay when the weather gets cold. But Kendall Jones, MUST Ministries coordinator in Cherokee, said the organization will help those in need with supplies the agency does have.

“The closest one is in Marietta,” Jones said. “In Cherokee there is not one at all. That’s an issue we’ve been trying to address for years, because when it gets cold like this there’s no place for people to go.”

Jones said people in Cherokee who need coats, blankets or warm clothes as the temperatures drop can always come by MUST and get supplies.

“We’re always in need of donations, because what happens is, for example, Cherokee Bank did a wonderful coat drive for us. When they would get a bunch of coats accumulated we would go pick them up, but, as soon as we’d put them on the shelves and racks, they’d go,” he said. “When we have availability, we’d be more than happy to help with jackets, coats and sleeping bags. It’s just dependent on the number of donations we have.”

Those in need can visit MUST Ministries in Canton, at 111 Brown Industrial Parkway. Services are available Monday through Friday from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Donations can be made Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.

Susan Garcia, director of the Cherokee County Animal Shelter, said it’s important to take extra care of pets when cold weather hits.

“If the weather’s going to drop below freezing, especially for an extended amount of time, you need to put pets indoors or in a garage — someplace where they’re not going to be exposed to the elements,” she said. “And you need to watch that their water doesn’t freeze. The top layer of the water can freeze pretty quickly.”

Garcia said it’s best to just bring pets inside when the weather gets so cold.

“If they’re in an outdoor, unheated barn or something, you should give them some straw or blankets where they can bed down,” Garcia said. “Definitely you need to be careful when it’s freezing for an extended amount of time. Even if they have a fur coat, the pads of their feet are still exposed.”

Garcia said if people are concerned about the well-being of a stray, they can call Animal Control at (678) 493-6200, and they will try to take care of the animal.

Keeping emergency supplies handy can help prevent emergencies in the case of bad weather, Westbrook said.

“Primary concerns are loss of heat, power and telephone service, and a shortage of supplies if storm conditions continue for more than a day,” he said.

Some items Westbrook urged residents to have in preparation for winter weather include: a flashlight and extra batteries, a battery-powered NOAA weather radio, food that requires no cooking or refrigeration, extra water, extra medicine and baby items, first-aid supplies, an emergency heat source like a fireplace, wood stove or space heater, a fire extinguisher and a smoke alarm.

To help prevent frozen pipes, the Federal Alliance for Safe Homes recommends allowing a slow trickle of water to flow from both hot and cold faucets, especially those on exterior walls. The alliance also recommends leaving cabinet doors open to allow heat to reach pipes underneath sinks and appliances.

Westbrook said driving can be dangerous in winter weather, especially when the National Weather Service has issued warnings or watches in the area.

“Let someone know your destination, route, and when you expect to arrive,” he urged. “Keep a cell phone or other emergency communication device with you.”

Westbrook said it’s important to keep emergency supplies in the car, because people can become trapped without assistance, and “attempting to walk for help in a winter storm can be a deadly decision.”

“Pack your car with thermal blankets, extra winter clothes, a basic tool kit including a good knife and jumper cables, an ice scraper and shovel, flashlights or battery-powered lanterns with extra batteries and high calorie, nonperishable food, and water,” Westbrook said. “Use sand or kitty litter under your tires for extra traction, especially if you find yourself stuck in a slippery spot.”

To keep the car’s fuel line from freezing, Westbrook said to keep the gas tank full.

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