Georgians begin to prepare for wintry weather - WFXG FOX54 Augusta - Your News One Hour Earlier

12 steps to make winter weather bearable

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SAVANNAH, GA (WTOC) -

The winter season doesn't truly begin until late December, but Georgia has been blanketed with unusually cold weather over the last couple of weeks.

As Georgians go out to complete their holiday shopping, experts warn that chill temperatures can bring potential problems, including hazardous road conditions and power outages.

The National Weather Service and the Georgia Emergency Management Service have proclaimed Dec. 2-6 as Winter Weather Awareness Week.

"Although snow and ice aren't as commonly associated with Georgia as other parts of the country, even small amounts here can cause significant problems," said Charley English, director of GEMA/Homeland Security in a statement. "Winter Weather Awareness Week isn't just a time to learn about severe weather. It's a time to take action, such as creating a family communications plan and shopping for cold weather emergency supplies."

To help residents prepare and stay informed about the impending winter weather, GEMA's Ready Georgia campaign has distributed 12 safety tips:

-When the weather outside is frightful, make sure you know the terms used to describe winter hazards such as freezing rain, sleet, winter weather advisory, winter storm watch and winter storm warning.

-Don't be a Grinch when it comes to purchasing and compiling the appropriate emergency supplies. Pack a Ready kit for both house and vehicle that includes warm clothes and blankets, at least a three-day supply of non-perishable food and water and flashlights with extra batteries in case of a power outage. Also include items that support the unique needs of different family members, such as medications, children's toys and pet food.

-Heading to grandmother's house for the holidays? Fully winterize your vehicle first. Have a mechanic check antifreeze levels, brakes, heater and defroster, tires, windshield wipers and more to ensure they are in good shape. Don't forget to pack jumper cables, maps, rock salt, a snow shovel, ice scraper and pet litter to create traction.

-If you plan to go dashing through the snow, drive your sleigh safely. Always keep your gas tank at least half full to keep the fuel line from freezing. Let someone know your destination, route and when you expect to arrive.

-Deck the halls with tinsel and festive decorations, but keep them away from pets and small children. Secure ornaments and lights tightly to trees to prevent mischievous pets and toddlers from grabbing or ingesting them. Did you know holly, mistletoe and poinsettia plants are poisonous to dogs and cats? If using them, place in an area that your pet can't reach.

-Keep warm on frosty days by weather-proofing your house. Place stripping around doors and windows to ensure proper home insulation. Allow faucets to drip during cold weather to prevent freezing and open cabinet doors to let heat reach uninsulated pipes under sinks and appliances near exterior walls.

-Regardless of the chill, never use a stove or oven to heat your house. In addition, never bring portable generators, camp stoves or grills into the home; they should be kept outside and at least 20 feet away from windows, doors and vents.

-Want to roast chestnuts over an open fire? Do it safely. Make sure you have your chimney cleaned and inspected every year. If you have a wood burning fireplace, store extra wood in case winter weather knocks out your heat.

-Playing outside during winter can be fun, but bundle up accordingly and know the symptoms of frostbite and hypothermia. If you suspect you have either one, get medical attention immediately.

-Looking for a good holiday gift? How about the gift of preparedness? Buy loved ones a NOAA weather radio or other key emergency supplies to keep them safe.

-Don't wait until New Year's to make resolutions. Make emergency preparedness a priority and take action now to be prepared to prevent and respond to any family emergency in 2014.

-And finally…no matter how much someone double dog dares you, never stick your tongue to a flagpole when it's cold out.

For more information on preparing for winter weather and other disasters, contact your local EMA or visit www.ready.ga.gov or www.gema.ga.gov. For preparedness on the go, download Ready Georgia's free mobile app.

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