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Prepare Now for Dangerously Cold Weather Through Wednesday

(ATLANTA) -- As a wave of arctic air rolls across the United States, Georgia faces two days of bone-chilling temperatures, dangerously cold, below-zero wind chill values, and icy roads. Because the state is not usually prone to winter weather, extreme conditions such as these can cause major problems. Therefore, the Georgia Emergency Management Agency/Homeland Security (GEMA) urges Georgians to prepare now and use extreme caution.

The National Weather Service refers to winter storms as “deceptive killers” because most deaths are indirectly related to the weather. Instead, people die in traffic accidents on icy roads and of hypothermia from prolonged exposure to cold. Also, severe frostbite injuries may result from a brief (20 to 30 minutes), ill-prepared exposure to the single digits to teens temperatures and below zero wind chill factors forecast through Wednesday afternoon.

“With the unusually frigid temperatures we have, it’s important now to stay safe and warm,” said GEMA/Homeland Security Director Charley English. “Bundle up, protect pipes, pets, and livestock, check heaters frequently, and follow official instructions regarding local driving conditions.”

GEMA’s Ready Georgia campaign offers these tips to help residents prepare, plan and stay informed about extreme cold:

Stay Informed about Winter Weather

Listen to NOAA weather radio or monitor broadcast stations, official websites, or download the Ready Georgia app for current information.

Know the symptoms of frostbite and hypothermia.

Frostbite occurs when your body tissue freezes. Your extremities may have a white or pale appearance and may lose feeling. The most susceptible areas of your body are the fingers, toes, earlobes, or the tip of your nose.

Hypothermia occurs when your body temperature falls below 95 degrees. Warning signs include uncontrollable shivering, memory loss, disorientation, incoherence, slurred speech, drowsiness and exhaustion. If you suspect you have frostbite or hypothermia, get medical attention immediately.

Prepare for Extreme Cold

Avoid prolonged exposure to cold. If you must be outdoors, dress properly, limit the time spent in sub-freezing weather.

Dress in layers for insulation and to stay warm. Wearing gloves and a hat will help retain body heat.

Stay dry. Wet clothing and shoes will cause quick heat loss from your body.

Be aware of the dangers of carbon monoxide poisoning when using alternate heat sources. Never use portable generators, camp stoves and grills inside your home or garage; they should only be used outside. Keep them at least 20 feet away from your home's windows, doors and vents.

When using equipment such as space heaters, check to make sure they have been approved for use indoors and are turned on at a safe level away from furniture, carpet or anything else flammable.

People who depend of electricity to operate medical equipment should have alternate arrangements in place in case power is out for an extended period of time.

Learn how to keep food safe during a power outage.

Prepare a Ready kit of emergency supplies for your home. Include at least a three-day supply of nonperishable food, water, a flashlight with extra batteries, a NOAA Weather Radio, adequate clothing and blankets to keep you warm, as well as additional supplies for the unique needs of your family, such as medications.

Keep extra Ready kit items in your vehicle. 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 and check your exhaust system for leaks to avoid carbon monoxide poisoning.

Create a Winter Weather Plan

Stay inside as much as possible. If trapped outside, try to stay dry, cover all body parts, periodically move limbs to keep blood circulating, and, if possible, build a fire.

Winter storms are often accompanied by power outages. Always exercise caution when using alternative light and heating sources.

Use flashlights during power outages instead of candles to prevent the risk of fire, and keep plenty of extra batteries on-hand.

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.