by Stephanie Baker
As Johnson County sees an increase in winter temperatures and precipitation, it is important to take precautions to keep yourself and your family safe in these extreme conditions.
“Be sure to check on folks who may be struggling to stay warm, especially in the event of a power outage,” says Deputy Director of Johnson County Department of Emergency Management Klay Rowbotham.
Locally, Johnson County, the City of Clarksville, and Safe Haven are working together to provide the community with warming shelters. Safe Haven, located at 1157 South Rogers Street, are open Fri, Jan. 12, 5 p.m. through 8 a.m., Mon., Jan. 15, and nightly Jan. 15-18, 5p.m.-8 a.m. The Clarksville Police Department, Johnson County Detention Center Lobby, and Marvin Vinson Center will be available during regular business hours. If someone needs a ride to a warm place, they can call the Johnson County Communications Center non-emergency number at (479) 774-691.
Rowbotham explained the areas he would expect to be of extra concern locally were frozen pipes, fire hazards, travel-related concerns, and preparing for the extra needs of pets and animals.
Frozen pipes are of great concern when the temperature drops well below freezing. To help avoid frozen or burst pipes open cabinet doors under sinks to better circulate warmer air and let water drip from faucets, recommended Rowbotham.
“Moving water is less likely to freeze than still water, so the idea is to keep water moving in all the pipes,” he explained. “Make especially sure to open up ‘the end of the line’ faucets.”
Protecting any outside faucets with a cover will also help prevent pipe-related emergencies.
Fire hazards are also a concern as people try to keep warm in freezing conditions.
To protect yourself from a fire-related emergency, make sure flues and chimneys are clean and in safe working condition, and ensure any kind of heating involving flames or other combustion has adequate ventilation, said Rowbotham.
Space heaters need a safe clearance of typically at least two feet, to make sure surrounding materials don’t get hot enough to combust, and never use ovens to heat a home.
“In the event of a power outage, ensure any generators in use are outside with proper ventilation and that they are isolated from the main power grid so that they cannot hurt power utility workers working to restore power,” he said.
Rowbotham also recommends checking that fire alarms and Carbon Monoxide (CO) detectors are in good working order and have good batteries before the weather arrives.
Travel complications are also a factor with winter weather. If you cannot stay home, prepare, and gather the necessary supplies to stay warm if stranded.
“Avoid traveling, if possible, but make sure to have extra water, non-perishable food, blankets, and other supplies in vehicles if you must travel. Other suggested supplies are jumper cables, sand, a good flashlight, and extra warm clothes. Having the means to charge cell phones besides their normal vehicle charger, like a power bank, is highly recommended,” said Rowbotham.
Checking your vehicle’s anti-freeze to make sure it is adequate for the anticipated temperatures and making sure your vehicle battery is in good condition is also necessary to avoid travel-related emergencies.
People are not the only ones who may struggle in the unusually cold temperatures, animals and pets of all kinds need extra attention and warmth during this time.
“Be sure pets have a warm place to go and water that is not freezing. Bring them inside if possible, and avoid towels, blankets, and other bedding materials that can get wet and freeze. Make sure livestock have a place to go out of the cold and have access to water that isn’t frozen,” recommends Rowbotham.
By preparing for the winter weather, you can help protect yourself from emergencies which often accompany snow and single-digit temperatures in this area.
Photo courtesy Weather.gov