(WALB) - Emergency management officials throughout Southwest Georgia say that if you're planning to be out on the roadways on Wednesday, it's important to be careful and don't leave in a hurry with the possible winter weather on its way.
How officials are preparing for cold temps in Dougherty County
In Dougherty County, Emergency Management Specialist Jenna Wirtz said you should make sure to leave in plenty of time to reach your destination.
Both Public Works crews and law enforcement are working together to monitor the road conditions and will add sand as needed.
"So they will be monitoring the road conditions throughout the duration of the storm to ensure that they're sanding all the roads that need it in plenty of time for people to be able to use them," explained Wirtz.
Officials said they've been stockpiling salt and sand for roads in the county.
They are also keeping a close eye on bridges in the county for possible freezing.
Mayor Dorothy Hubbard also said they have extra linemen on call in case of power outages.
"Things don't stay the same so you have to be prepared by looking at what you've done in the past and assessing what you need to do for the future," said Hubbard.
Hubbard also said the city has a CodeRED alert system in place to let you know about severe weather, you can sign up for alerts by visiting the CodeRED website.
Freezing temperatures can cause hidden and potentially deadly dangers like black ice.
Wirtz said that even though we may not see ice, it doesn't mean it's not there.
"Just because there is no ice at your house or in your neighborhood doesn't mean that there's none anywhere. So you want to make sure that you give yourself plenty of time to get where you need to go," said Wirtz.
Wirtz said that if you do encounter ice on the road while driving, don't slam on your breaks, decelerate slowly, and make sure you leave plenty of distance between your vehicle and others.
If you slam on your breaks that can cause your car to skid off the roadway.
Right now, you can help crashes caused by black ice by making sure your sprinkler system is turned off.
Dougherty County Emergency Management officials said sprinklers often spill water into the roadway.
With Tuesday's low dipping down well below freezing, those puddles will soon turn to a thin layer of ice.
Although sprinkler pipes are at risk of freezing like indoor plumbing you shouldn't winterize them in the same manner.
Officials suggest you shut off the main water supply and make sure the valve is properly wrapped.
Officials said that if you have an automatic timer, you should make sure it's turned off. They also said you should drain the pipes manually or through the compressed air blow-out method.
Getting ready for cold weather in Lowndes County
It's beginning to look a lot like winter in Lowndes County as well.
Not many people were out and about on Tuesday, but it's the dropping temperature expected overnight that officials are worried about.
Downtown snowflake decorations line the streets, but precipitation during freezing weather isn't something that Lowndes County has had to prepare for often.
Crews in Lowndes County are preparing for the icy conditions.
It's the bridges where officials fear the roads will get icy.
But it's been several years since the county has had to prepare for weather like this.
There are four bridges in Lowndes County that Public Works crews know have gotten icy in the past. They will be monitoring the bridges throughout the night to see if they need to treat them.
County officials said they are expecting up to a quarter inch of ice on the roads Wednesday morning.
The most important thing officials said is if you are going out early Wednesday, be extra cautious and plan on your commute taking a bit longer than normal.
"I think the biggest concern right now for the morning commute is just that people are aware of what's on the road. If there is any kind of water, even if we don't have anything additional fall, then that's going to freeze over the night hours. So just look for those patches of ice that could be out there," explained Lowndes County Public Information Officer Paige Dukes.
Officials said they are prepared.
Kids are also still out of school so there is no concern for school buses in Lowndes County.
As Lowndes County officials prepare the roads, and you prepare your home, they are reminding you to prepare your pets shelters too.
If you have pets, there is a county ordinance that says you must bring them inside or at least protect them so they are off the ground during extreme temperatures.
There is hay at the Lowndes County Animal Shelter for anyone who wants it.
If you can't bring your pets inside, officials hope you will at least use the hay to warm your pets living area.
Lowndes County Public Works crews delivered the hay this afternoon.
You can simply drive by and pick some up, the shelter is located at 337 Gil Harbin Industrial Boulevard in Valdosta.
It is available on a first come, first serve basis.
Officials are also asking people to check on their neighbors and make sure nobody is staying in a cold home.
"We don't have homes that are built like they are in the north with some of the insulation that is needed because we just don't have freezing temperatures very often. So we started reminding people that if their neighbors don't have heat or need some help that they look out for each other," said Dukes.
Staying warm in Southwest Georgia during dropping temperatures
If you don't have heat in your home, officials encouraged you to go to one of three shelters:
- First Missionary Baptist Church
110 W Calhoun Street
Thomasville, GA 31792
- Salvation Army
317 Virginia Avenue
Valdosta, GA 31601
- New Horizons
714 Charlton Street
Valdosta, GA 31601
- Grace Fellow Citizens Church
1304 West Hill Avenue
Valdosta, GA 31601
What officials want everyone to remember as winter weather heads our way
Officials said you should treat severe cold weather like any other kind of severe weather.
Anything you would bring in to protect from a thunderstorm, like potted plants or a pet, you'll want to pull in Tuesday night.
Just remember the four P's: People, pets, plants and pipes.
Officials want everyone to help check on elderly neighbors and make sure you have a safe heating source.
They also encourage people to make sure outdoor pipes are wrapped up, and leave faucets dripping throughout the night.
Hitting the road in potentially icy weather
If you plan on driving to work Wednesday morning you may want to re-think your travel plans if you're east of I-75.
That's the advice Georgia State Patrol troopers are giving.
The roads are expected to become icy in the morning hours.
Troopers are warning drivers to be safe during your morning commute.
The driving conditions may be very different from what you are accustomed to.
Troopers said to make sure your car is in good working condition before driving it. They also said to check your brakes and your tire pressure because cold temperatures can cause air in your tire to contract.
If you see ice ahead of you on the road, or if an icy rain is coming down, troopers said you should give yourself enough time to hit the brakes. It's easy to slide on icy roads.
"The best advice that we have if at all possible, stay at home. Stay off the roadways if you possibly can," said Cpl. Andrew McKenzie with GSP.
If you are heading out early, you may want give yourself time to warm up your car a bit and let your windows defrost before you take to the road.