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Officials urge caution, preparedness for winter storm

CONYERS — The east metro area is bracing for the possibility of wintry weather Tuesday and freezing temperatures through Thursday. While the forecast continues to shift, local authorities are preparing for the worst.

The city of Conyers transportation department has its salt/sand mixture ready to apply to icy roads and has the barricades ready to be placed on the Parker Road bridge, should it become icy.

“At this point, we’re playing it by ear, but will notify the public through our website, Facebook and Twitter pages, as well as getting word out about any road closures through the media,” said Jennifer Edwards, public relations and tourism director with the city of Conyers.

The Rockdale County Sheriff’s Office sent a press release Monday afternoon to advise that deputies will be monitoring road conditions to check for icy buildup and make road closures when necessary.

“RCSO deputies will also be available to check on the well-being of citizens that may be more affected by a winter storm,” the press release states. “Anyone that wants the RCSO to check on them or anyone else during the winter storm can call 911 or the non-emergency line at 770-483-4200 to make that request.”

Tony Smith, fire marshal with the Covington Fire Department, said that it is unknown how much, if any, snow or ice will hit Rockdale and Newton counties, but that citizens should make preparations.

“You want to make sure that you have plenty of flashlights around the house in case you are without power for any amount of time,” he said. “If you have a fireplace or wood-burning stove, make sure you have enough wood to heat the home.”

At the same time, Smith urged caution when using space heaters, particularly those heated with kerosene or anything that can produce carbon monoxide. He said all space heaters should be about 3 feet from any combustible product, such as blankets, sheets or pillows.

According to the state Insurance and Safety Fire Commissioner, subfreezing temperatures can result in frozen pipes. Homeowners should leave a faucet dripping at night and disconnect hoses from outside spigots. Leaving kitchen cabinet doors open will allow warm air to reach pipes, according to the Insurance Commissioner.

In the event of snow or ice, public safety officials urge extra caution on the road.

“One of the best tips is for drivers to slow down,” said Newton County Sheriff’s Office Deputy Cortney Morrison. “A lot of accidents happen because drivers go too fast for driving conditions. Slower speeds give you more time to react.”

She also said drivers should leave plenty of space between them and the vehicles in front of them.

“Our best advice is if you feel conditions are bad, don’t be on the road. If you have to go to work, just use extra caution, be careful and be patient with other drivers,” Morrison said.

The Conyers Police Department also encourages people to avoid the roads if conditions should become perilous.

“Leave work early (today) to arrive home before snowfall, and anticipate that others will be doing the same, so allow extra time,” said CPD Capt. Jackie Dunn.

He also suggested citizens sign up for CPD critical incidents updates at www.nixle.com.

Other preparedness tips offered by area law enforcement agencies and fire departments include:

• Do not travel unless you must;

• Have emergency supplies to keep you and your family warm and safe during the winter storm;

• Keep a safety kit nearby or in your car that includes a blanket, flashlight, jumper cables, ice scraper and a change of clothes;

• Keep cell phones charged in case of a power outage;

• Have supplies to de-ice walkways, driveways, etc.;

• Have flashlights and extra batteries;

• Stock non-perishable foods;

• Make sure that people with functional or access needs are prepared;

• Make sure that pets have a warm safe place for the next few days;

• Have additional fuel supplies on hand; and

• Conserve energy and limit travel as much as possible.

Return to www.rockdalecitizen.com for updates. Sign up for breaking news alerts to get the latest news and for school closings: www.rockdalecitizen.com/alerts.