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Cold snap closes schools

Experts offer tips for frigid temps

COVINGTON — Frigid temperatures and arctic blasts have Rockdale and Newton residents bundling up as temperatures are expected to remain below freezing until Wednesday.

Both Rockdale and Newton County students will get a one-day extension to their winter breaks because of the cold temperatures.

“Due to the extreme temperature and wind chill factor expected (Tuesday), we are closing school for students and under 11-month employees. All administrators, 11-, and 12-month employees should report at 10 a.m.,” said Rockdale County Public Schools Community Relations director Cindy Ball.

Schools in Newton are following suit. “All Newton County Schools will be closed Tuesday, Jan. 7. All 12-month employees should report at 10 a.m.,” according to Newton County School System Public Relations director Sherri Davis-Viniard.

Questions about how to deal with the chilly conditions have prompted advice from local businesses and organizations on how to stay safe and warm during the cold spell.

Mechanic Doug Weaver of Dickerson Automotive in Conyers said that he sees numerous car accidents this time of year as a result of the weather. Icy road conditions can cause accidents, even when driving as slow as 20 to 25 mph.

In addition, Weaver said that starting your car a few minutes before driving off into wintry conditions is a good way to warm up a vehicle and reduce the risk of damage.

“Let your car run for about 10 minutes before driving it,” said Weaver.

High winds accompanying the cold weather can increase the risk of downed power lines. Snapping Shoals Electric Membership Corporation, which provides power to Rockdale and Newton residents, has a few tips on how to prepare for a power outage during the cold snap:

  • Prepare an outage kit that includes a battery-powered radio, fresh batteries, flashlights, candles, matches, a can opener and a wind-up clock.
  • Keep a three-day supply of bottled water, ready-to-eat, non-perishable foods, pet food, paper plates, paper cups and plastic utensils on hand.
  • Maintain a one-week supply of essential medications.
  • Store extra blankets where you can find them easily.

In the event of a power line going down, Snapping Shoals Public Relations specialist Leigh-Anne Burgess said, “Our crews are ready for any damage that may occur. We have crews on standby and ready to go.”

The Georgia Emergency Management Agency also has some suggestions on how to prepare for freezing temperatures:

  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Know the symptoms of frostbite and hypothermia. If you suspect you have frostbite or hypothermia, get medical attention immediately.

Pets, much like humans, also need to have preparations for the cold weather. Newton County Animal Control Director Teri Key-Hooson said to keep animals inside, but if the pets happen to be outdoor animals, provide extra insulation such as blankets or straw to their beds. Key-Hooson also advised to keep outdoor animals away from wet or muddy areas, and provide them with plenty of food and fresh water.

Although the temperature is unusually cold for the east metro area, it does not compare to that of Jan. 21, 1985, when the recorded low temperature for Covington was -7 degrees, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.