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Be prepared for ‘snow threat’ headed toward metro Atlanta


Metro Atlanta is bracing to get 2 to 4 inches of snow this weekend, and the state has warned residents to prepare to stay at home for at least three days.

Gov. Nathan Deal will declare a state of emergency across much of north Georgia on Friday at noon but is urging residents not to rush the roads at that time.

» Atlanta snow: The latest news

It’s the “biggest snow threat” in two years, so don’t be caught unprepared. Here are some tips on how to handle the wintry weather.

GDOT

The Georgia Department of Transportation has a storm-attack plan, plus a few words of traveling advice:

Interstates and high-volume state routes get cleared first, with particular attention to routes leading to stations of first responders and hospitals.

» Georgia preps roads for winter weather

About 100,000 gallons of brine will be applied to metro Atlanta interstates and highways in preparation for the storm. When snow starts to fall, the state has 54,000 tons of salt statewide, nearly 66,000 tons of gravel and 385 pieces of snow removal equipment to keep roads clear.

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 tips

Follow these suggestions when driving on icy roads:

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 more gently and allow yourself additional 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.

Be prepared. Winterize your safety kit and make sure you have it in the trunk of your car. The kit should include a flashlight, first-aid kit, water, blanket, wool cap, gloves, ice scraper and cat litter or sand to provide some traction on ice.

Airport

If you’re planning on flying out of Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport, be sure to check on your flight status before you head out to make sure it hasn’t been canceled.

In addition to checking the airline websites for flight status, you can log on to www.fly.faa.gov for real-time information on airport conditions.

Delta’s Twitter account (@Delta) allows travelers to ask for help while they are traveling and get a quick response. The airline’s website (www.delta.com) also has resources for travelers.

Southwest Airlines travelers can check www.southwest.com for updates.

Shelters

People who are homeless and need shelter have several options to get out of the freezing temperatures.

MUST Ministries has a cold weather shelter at its Marietta campus, at 55 Elizabeth Church Rd., with 22 beds for women and families. Single men stay at The Extension facility nearby. The cold weather shelter, which is open when temperatures dip to 32 degree and below, provides dinner, a place to sleep overnight and breakfast the next morning. During the day, people can go to the warming center, where they can stay and are provided lunch at the Loaves and Fishes Community Kitchen on campus. This is in addition to the Elizabeth Inn Shelter, which has 72 beds for men, women and children.

Donations needed include heavy blankets, hats, scarves, gloves, socks, warm beverages and breakfast items like oatmeal packets, granola bars, yogurt and fresh fruit. People can leave donations at the Elizabeth Inn.

The Atlanta Mission has two main campuses in Atlanta that offer overnight accommodations. The Shepherd’s Inn, 165 Ivan Allen Blvd., holds 450 men; and My Sister’s House, 921 Howell Mill Rd. provides shelter for 275 women and children.

As more people come, we will open up more space,” said mission spokeswoman Rachel Reynolds. “We will be accepting walk-ups.”

People who wish to support the shelters can provide cots, warm blankets and food.

Pets

Pet owners should take special precautions with their animals during freezing temperatures. It’s best to keep all pets indoors.

Dogs that live outdoors should have a doghouse that’s elevated a few inches and has cedar shavings, straw or a blanket to trap body heat. Pets that spend time outdoors need more food because cold weather saps energy.

Cats will curl up against almost anything to stay warm, including car engines. Before you turn your engine on, check beneath the car or make plenty of noise by honking the horn.

Some animals can safely remain outside longer in the winter than others. Long-haired breeds like huskies will do better in cold weather than short-haired breeds like dachshunds. Your pet’s health also will affect how long the pet can stay out. Conditions such as diabetes, heart disease, kidney disease and hormonal imbalances can compromise a pet’s ability to regulate body heat.

Consider dog sweaters during walks. When outside with your pets, watch them for signs of discomfort. If they whine, shiver, seem anxious, slow down or stop moving, or start to look for warm places to burrow, they’re saying they want to get back to someplace warm.

Plants

Here a few ways to protect your plants during the cold weather:

Bring your smaller container plants, especially succulents, indoors. Mulch or cover outdoor plants with straw, blankets or cardboard.

To prevent heat loss from sides of containers, push together large outdoor pots and wrap the bases with plastic, burlap or a blanket.

Rosemary topiaries or potted citrus plants or roses should be moved close to the wall of your house for warmth. Cover plants such as camellias with an old sheet or, for plants taller than 3 feet, black plastic.

Be sure to turn off automatic sprinklers, detach hoses from faucets and wrap the faucets to protect outdoor pipes.

Don’t worry if plant leaves wilt; they protect themselves against cold by dehydrating themselves. Given time, most will perk back up.

If you see damage from frost (black or purple flaccid leaves or stems), particularly on woody perennials, wait until the spring to prune so as to not shear off healthy tissue.

Schools

Arctic temps and black ice on the roads could prompt schools to close. Watch Channel 2 Action News in the morning or check wsbtv.com for the latest updates on school closures.

Kids

If kids are out of school for the day, parents may be wondering what to do with their children’s exuberant energy. Here are some ideas to help pass the time and keep the peace.

Video games: Xbox and PlayStation offer hours of fun for individuals or the entire family.

If power goes out or you’re looking for some quieter options: board games; card games; puzzles; reading (depending on age of the children, they can read to parents or the parents can read to them); baking (time to bring out those cookie recipes from Christmas).

Or if it’s safe to go outside, build a snowman.

Home tips

Frozen pipes can lead to a big mess.

Here are a few tips and websites with guidance on avoiding weather-related disasters at home:

Allow a small trickle of water to run overnight, preferably through a faucet on an outside wall.

Open kitchen and bathroom cabinets so warmer air can circulate below the sinks.

Know the locations of your shut-off valves, in case a pipe bursts.

For more tips, check:

http://www.allstate.com/catastrophe/pipes-freeze.aspx

http://www.libertymutual.com/home-insurance/tools-resources/preventing-water-damage/preventing-frozen-pipes

http://www.redcross.org/prepare/disaster/winter-storm/preventing-thawing-frozen-pipes

http://learningcenter.statefarm.com/residence/maintenance/preventing-frozen-pipes/

Public transit

Public transportation in bad weather can be unpredictable.

While ice can really disrupt bus and train schedules, service is still possible.

The best way to check if your bus or train is running as scheduled is to access the corresponding website or call the transportation authority.

Here are a few numbers where you can get up-to-the-minute information:

MARTA, http://www.itsmarta.com/

Cobb Community Transit, 770-427-4444, www.cobbcounty.org

Gwinnett County Transit, 770-822-5010

Utilities

Water

* City of Atlanta

404-658-6500 (press option 2)

* Cherokee County

770-479-1813

* Clayton County

770-961-2130 (press option 2)

* Cobb County

770-419-6201

* College Park

404-669-3757

* DeKalb County

770-270-6243

* Douglasville/Douglas County

770-949-7617

* East Point

404-270-7010

* Fairburn

770-969-3481

* Fayette County

770-461-1146

* Fulton County

404-612-6830 (press option 1)

* Gwinnett County

678-376-7000

* Hapeville

404-669-2120

And

404-669-2110 (residents encouraged to call this number if no one picks up first number)

* Palmetto

770-463-3377

* Roswell

770-641-3759

* Sandy Springs

770-730-5600

* Union City

770-964-2288 (press option 2, then option 1)

Gas

* Atlanta Gas

Emergency Services

770-907-4231

* Scana Energy

1-877-467-2262 (press option 1)

Electric

* Georgia Power Company

Residential (press 1)

888-660-5890

Business

888-655-5888 (press 1)

* Cobb EMC

770-429-2100 (press option 1)

* Snapping Shoals EMC

770-786-3484 (press option 1)

* Walton EMC

770-972-2917 (press option 1)

— Staff writers David Wickert, Kelly Yamanouchi, Shelia Poole and Helena Oliviero.



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