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Preparing for the Arctic blast

Emergency Numbers:
Fire: 770-278-8401
Conyers Police: 770-483-6600
Rockdale Sheriffs Dept: 770-278-8000
Senior Center: 770-278-7230

Winter Safety Tips
• Never leave space heaters unattended
• Don't use your stove or cooking elements as a heater
• Use caution when cooking by keeping your robes, blankets, long sleeves away from stove and cooking elements
• Bring pets indoors
• Keep cell phone charged (if applicable)
• To avoid frozen pipes, put faucets on a slow drip and keep cabinet doors
• Stay in touch with family, friends and neighbors by phone
• Use shelf stable meal provided by Senior Center
• Keep emergency numbers handy and contact local authorities in case of emergency

Meteorologists are warning of an Arctic blast coming through the southeast next week, but that doesn’t mean you have be stuck out in the cold.

In a briefing sent out to the Georgia Emergency Management Agency members, National Weather Service meteorologist Kelly Godsey described very cold, dry airmass camping out across the southeast and northern gulf coast on Monday and Tuesday with temperatures dropping into the 40s Sunday afternoon and the 20s on Monday and Tuesday morning.

Kids going to school and adults going to work on Monday and Tuesday will need to bundle up. With winds of 20 mph and gusts of 30 mph, wind chills on Monday will make the temperature feel like it’s in the single digits. Tuesday morning may see colder air temperatures but less severe wind.

Hard freezes are expected Monday and Tuesday mornings. “If you have vulnerable pipes make sure to protect those on each of the hard freeze nights,” warned Godsey.

In addition, 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 below freezing weather to avoid frozen pipes and open cabinet doors to allow heat to get to uninsulated pipes under sinks and appliances near exterior walls.

Winter is also a time of fire hazards as people turn to fires, space heaters, and even other forms of heating, such as turning on the oven.

When building a fire in a fireplace, keep combustible materials away from the fireplace mantel, and don’t burn charcoal indoors as it can emit carbon monoxide. Before you go to sleep, be sure your fireplace fire is out and don’t close your damper with hot ashes in the fireplace. A closed damper will help the fire to heat up again and will force toxic carbon monoxide into the house.

If you use a space heater, turn it on only when you are in the room. Keep combustible materials away and make sure it is the only appliance on the outlet to avoid overload. If possible, try and get newer models with tip-over sensors and over-heating sensors.

Also, try and check on the elderly relatives, friends or neighbors and other vulnerable populations. The Olivia Haydel Senior Center is open Monday – Thursday 7:30 a.m. – 6 p.m. and Friday 7 a.m. – 4 p.m. and can be reached at 770-278-7230.

Animals are also vulnerable to the cold. Make sure your pets have a warm, dry place to stay, with plenty of food and water.

Bring outdoor cats and dogs inside during cold spells, even if it is in the garage, recommended Animal Control Director Ciji Baker.

Also, cats that sleep outside often crawl inside of cars and engines to sleep and can be killed if the engine is started while they're inside. Baker recommended making some noise by banging on the hood of your car before starting up the engine to give them time to wake up and get out.

Warmer forecasts

But despite the cold fronts coming through in the next few days, this winter is predicted to be warmer than last year, which was the coldest on record since 1978.

State Climatologist David Stooksbury’s winter outlook calls for a warmer and drier winter than normal. That could lead to significant savings on utility bills, as heating demand across the county could be 10 percent less than last year, according to Weather Services International. Georgia residents could see even greater savings.

The cold fronts will give Georgia cities a slightly higher chance of having a "White Christmas," defined as an inch of snow or greater on the ground on Christmas Day. The National Climatic Data Center annually predicts a less than 5 percent chance of a White Christmas for this part of Georgia. WSB Radio Meteorologist Kirk Mellish said Atlanta annually has around a 25 percent chance, but upgraded that the probability to 38 percent this year.