By Brittany Cofer
As residents bundle up for a snowy, Arctic front midweek, officials in Southeast Tennessee and North Georgia are preparing for icy roads, power outages and flooding from busted, frozen water mains.
But they're also worried about freezing people and dangerous methods of getting warm.
"We are concerned about people not taking the right precautions when they are trying to stay warm," Claudia Moore, a spokesperson with the Chattanooga area Red Cross said.
Forecasters are predicting a 60 percent chance of snow Thursday. The snowfall, up to an inch in the Tennessee Valley, comes on the heels of a week of bitter cold weather with temperatures lingering in the teens, said Jerry Hevrdeys, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Morristown, Tenn.
Go to the Chattanooga Times Free Press Web site at www.timesfreepress.com for the latest weather and information on school closings in the region.
* Students urged to bundle up, B2
* Freezing pipes heat up plumbing business, C1
SALVATION ARMY SHELTER
The Chattanooga Salvation Army is opening its Homeless Women's Shelter at 6:30 p.m. daily through the current cold spell. The shelter is currently able to house up to 20 women and one family.
HOW TO HELP
The Salvation Army needs cash donations for new heaters, which cost $30 each. Also needed are coats, ponchos, thermal underwear and socks in all sizes for women and men. All donations are being accepted at The Salvation Army's Administrative Offices, at the corner of McCallie Avenue and Magnolia Street. Monetary donations can also be mailed to: The Salvation Army, 822 McCallie Ave., Chattanooga TN 37403.
WINTER DRIVING TIPS:
* Remove all snow and ice from your entire vehicle before starting out, checking lights and mirrors as well.
* Drive with your headlights on low beam to make yourself more visible to other motorists.
* When roads are wet or icy, slow down.
* Leave earlier, allotting extra time to reach your destination. Even better, delay your travel all together if possible.
* If you encounter snow removal equipment, allow plenty of room for it to operate.
* Remember, bridges and overpasses freeze quickly and before any other surfaces.
* If your tires lose traction, look and steer into the direction you want to go.
* When braking, apply steady firm pressure, don't apply the brakes quickly or accelerate suddenly.
* Remember, four-wheel drive vehicles give you extra traction to get going, but do not aid you in stopping any quicker.
Source: Dalton Police Department
There is a 20 percent chance of snow showers Friday, but he said the weekend should be dry with highs in the 20s.
Gary Avans, a Chattanooga resident who works outside all day as a utility meter reader, said he has to "just keep moving" to stay warm all day.
"If it's cold enough for me to put on a jacket, hat and gloves, it's cold," Mr. Avans said. "It feels a lot sharper than normal. The wind's really sharp, cuts right through you."
But trying to stay warm can pose its own problems. The use of space heaters when temperatures plummet and snow falls on Thursday can pose a serious fire risk through the weekend, Ms. Moore said. In the last four days, more than six fires have been caused by space heaters in the Chattanooga area, she said.
The Red Cross, which will have disaster volunteers on call over the next few days, encourages people to keep their space heaters away from flammable curtains or clothing and not to run cords under flammable carpet.
David Ashburn, emergency service director in Walker County, said he is telling people in North Georgia to be prepared to support themselves with food and water supplies if they lose water or electricity for several days.
"I am telling people to go to Hawaii or Florida," he said jokingly. "If we have snow and ice, you can have power outages. We have water breaks that occur within the water system that could shut it down. Be prepared at your house."
Kerosene heaters can be dangerous if the fumes aren't vented properly, he said. All heaters used should be approved for indoor use, he added.
"Depend on friends and family," he said. "If someone that you know has power, it is time to go visit."
Heaters aren't the only concern brought on by the cold weather. Plumbing may not be on every home or business owner's mind, but Steve Brandon, owner of Battlefield Plumbing Co. in Flintstone, Ga., said it should be.
In bitterly cold weather, pipes in cold weather generally freeze during the night and when people discover the next morning that water isn't in part of the house, they sometimes don't recognize the severity of the problem. During the day, when temperatures may rise slightly, those pipes could unfreeze.
"They think everything is going to be OK, and they go to work and run their errands and when they get back they have water everywhere," he said.
The first measure in preventing pipes from freezing is to know where the water lines in a home, apartment or business are located, he said, and from there, it's about keeping the pipes warm.
People can open kitchen cabinet doors to keep pipes running up an outside wall warm and, in extreme cases, leave a small drip of water running from faucets.
"Don't leave them running in a big stream, but leave them in a small, small stream," he said. "You want enough to leave water moving through the pipes so they won't freeze."
Snow flurries may cause slick, icy roadways on Wednesday and Thursday, and city workers plan to lay salt to pre-treat roads Wednesday afternoon, said Tony Boyd, assistant director of operations for Chattanooga.
Once snow falls, salt and sand spreaders will be used to dust the roads, he said.
The Tennessee Department of Transportation is using beet juice in its salt and brine mixture to pre-treat roads, he said, because the beet juice is said to help the salt stick to the roads longer.
"It's the first time the state is using beet juice," he said. "It's a little bit more expensive. I am interested to see how it comes out."
Guy Bilyeu, executive director of the Humane Educational Society in Chattanooga, said now is the time to bring outside pets indoors.
Cats especially should not be left outside, but if there are outdoor cats in the area, be careful before starting your car.
"They want to go to warm places," he said. "Sometimes they go inside the hood of a car to stay warm. Hit the top of the car really loud before starting the engine and give the cat a chance to escape."