The Union Recorder

January 6, 2014

Winter weather safety, driving tips

From staff reports
The Union-Recorder

MILLEDGEVILLE —

A wind and wind chill advisory is in effect for Baldwin and surrounding counties, and cold weather requires local residents to take additional precautions. 

“One of the primary concerns of winter weather is its ability to knock out heat, power and communications services,” said Baldwin County Fire Chief and Emergency Management Agency (EMA) Director Troy Reynolds via press release. “Preparation is inexpensive and easy, and can help you avoid potentially life-threatening situations.”

Baldwin County Fire Rescue urges local residents to be prepared for the impending winter weather by keeping a home emergency kit on hand. Kits should include at least a three-day supply of nonperishable food, water, a flashlight with extra batteries, a NOAA Weather Radio, adequate clothing and blankets. Kits should also contain additional supplies for family needs such as personal medications. 

Local residents are advised to also keep a spare emergency kit in their vehicles. 

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 un-insulated pipes under sinks and appliances near exterior walls. 

It is also important to create a winter weather plan:

• Plan to stay inside, if necessary, for at least three days. If trapped outside during severe winter weather, 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. 

• Never bring portable generators, camp stoves and grills into your home; they should only be used outside. Keep them at least 20 feet away from your home's windows, doors and vents to prevent deadly carbon monoxide poisoning.

• 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. 

• 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. 

Also, the Georgia Department of Transportation offers residents few words of traveling advice:

• GDOT will use social media to update the public on travel conditions and has put cell phones in all salt trucks and accompanying vehicles to speed responses to problem areas.

• Do not pass a dump truck spreading salt or stone. Flying stone can break your windshield.

• Be careful when approaching GDOT crews as they clear ice.

• If a traffic signal is not working, treat it as a four-way stop.

Driving on icy roads can be particularly dangerous. Follow these suggestions:

• Slow down. The posted speed limit is for driving on dry pavement. Stopping on any slick surface takes a longer distance. Keep three seconds or more between you and the vehicle in front of you.

• Be gentle. Pretend there is an egg between your foot and the accelerator. This is the best way to maintain traction and avoid skids. Apply brakes gentler and allow yourself more time to stop.

• Control that skid. If your rear wheels skid, simply steer where you want to go. If the front wheels skid, steer straight until you regain control. Take your foot off the gas in either case.