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Posted: December 27, 2009 12:30 a.m.

Dropping winter temperatures bring rising need to prepare

As winter weather begins to move across the South, Georgians are being asked to take the time to prepare for what could be colder temperatures this season.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s U.S. Winter Outlook says below-average temperatures are expected across the Southeast, and the Georgia Emergency Management Agency is recommending that residents from every community in the state turn to its Ready Georgia campaign to prepare for winter advisories and ice storms before they happen.

"One of the primary concerns of winter weather is its ability to knock out heat, power and communications services," said Charley English, director of GEMA and the Office of Homeland Security. "Preparation is inexpensive and easy, and can help you avoid these potentially life-threatening situations as it gets colder."

The National Weather Service refers to winter storms as "deceptive killers" because most deaths are indirectly related to the storm. Instead, people die in traffic accidents on icy roads and of hypothermia from prolonged exposure to cold.

For a state that is not prone to extreme snow and ice during winter months, even small amounts can cause severe problems in Georgia. Georgians can visit www.ready.ga.gov to create custom lists of emergency supplies and communications plans, and Ready Georgia offers this information to prepare, plan and stay informed:

Prepare for Winter Weather

• Prepare a Ready kit of emergency supplies and include adequate clothing and blankets to keep you warm. Keep a separate Ready kit in your car.

• Make sure your home is well insulated: put weather stripping around your doors and windows; insulate pipes and allow faucets to drip a little during cold weather to avoid freezing; and open cabinet doors to allow heat to get to uninsulated pipes under sinks and appliances near exterior walls.

• Fully winterize your vehicle and keep your gas tank at least half full to avoid ice in the tank and fuel lines.

Make a Winter Weather Plan

• Plan to stay inside if necessary and make it on your own for at least three days.

• 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.

Stay Informed about Winter Weather

• Monitor NOAA Weather Radio, commercial radio, television and the Internet to stay informed of winter weather watches, warnings and advisories.

• Know what to do if trapped outside in a winter storm: try to stay dry, cover all body parts, periodically move limbs to keep blood circulating and build a fire if possible.

• 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.

For more information on preparing for winter storms and other potential threats, turn to Ready Georgia at www.ready.ga.gov. Residents can find local emergency contact information and the tools to help any household get ready for the unexpected.

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