Arctic chill brings dangerously low temperatures - WALB.com, Albany News, Weather, Sports

Arctic chill brings dangerously low temperatures

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By Jennifer Emert - bio | email

January 15, 2009

ALBANY, GA (WALB) - It could feel like it's in the single digits with the wind chill as you head out the door to start your Friday.

Many in south Georgia will be doing whatever they can to stay warm in these frigid temperatures, but emergency personnel caution everyone to think before your put your home or family at risk.

I took my temperature a short time ago before I stepped out side, and it was the normal 98.6. After standing outside as the temperature dropped for the last 30 minutes, I took my temperature again and it's dropped several degrees.

That's why doctors say it's so important to cover your head and hands and minimize your exposure to cold temperatures, especially Friday.

Whether you're working outside or just trying to keep warm at home both may be difficult over the next several days. Doctors say the best remedy for staying warm is layers.

"When you sweat, your body will sweat even in the cold, when you sweat, the cotton will adsorb that water and will actually cool the body down even more," said Dr. Derek Heard of Albany Family Practice. 

As temperatures fall well below freezing both Water, Gas, and Light and Georgia Power have enacted policies not to strand customers who may be delinquent on their bills.

"It's our policy that we will not shut off anybody if the temperature is forecast to be 32 degrees or less," said WG&L Fiscal Affairs Director John Vansant III.  

Water, Gas, and Light's bad debt expenses are already at $600,000 the entire amount budgeted for the year, with just half the year complete, but there is help for customers saddled with higher bills as a result of the cold.

"There is some state assistance available."

Dougherty County Neighborhood Service, the Salvation Army, and the United Way also offer help. Emergency officials caution those who turn to alternative heat sources, they say make sure space heaters are kept three feet from everything else.

"Some people try to heat their homes with their oven or stove, very, very dangerous, so they just need to be cautious if they're not sure call the fire department call us that's why we're all here, we don't want to go to a fire we want everyone to stay warm and be safe," said Mari Wright of the American Red Cross.

The Salvation Army is opening its shelter earlier in the evening allowing those in need to come out of the cold temperatures a little earlier. Last night they say they were nearly at capacity, but they take whatever steps necessary to make sure everyone has a warm place to stay for the night.

Emergencies services have been in touch with GEMA there's no plan for a warming shelter at this point, but they say that could be re-evaluated if the weather changes.

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