Old Man Winter tightens grip

Published 10:35 am Thursday, January 7, 2010

Snow flurries tonight (Thursday) are likely the least of worries for winter weather in the Roanoke-Chowan region this weekend.

Temperatures are expected to drop in the 20s Friday and Saturday night, meaning people throughout the region will have to prepare for below freezing temperatures.

The National Weather Service forecast is predicting from a dusting to one inch of snow to fall in the early morning hours of Friday. That little accumulation, however, will be followed by a weekend of cold temperatures with an expected 22-degree low Friday followed by a 20-degree low Saturday.

Leaders throughout the region are encouraging resident to take caution with their home, their pets and their persons.

“Right now the snow accumulation looks to be very small,” said Bertie County Emergency Management Coordinator Rickey Freeman. “The National Weather Service suggests the snow will have very little effect on us.

“Even so, I would suggest people should stay in after the snow and not take any chances,” Freeman said. “There could be some icy patches and people should take precautions.”

Freeman said he was concerned about the frigid temperatures and said people should be aware of the cold.

“Mainly, be careful with heating sources,” said Freeman. “If you are using wood or kerosene, be careful because they can easily cause fires.”

Freeman also said it was wise for people to stay inside during the coldest part of the night.

“If you don’t have to be out Friday or Saturday nights, don’t be,” he said. “With the wind chill, it could drop into the teens and it could cause hypothermia if you are out in it too long. Buckle down and stay in.”

Northampton County Sheriff Wardie Vincent said during a period of cold weather it is also important for people to remember to check on the elderly who live alone during the cold temperatures.

“We definitely suggest people who are elderly or disabled be checked on by their families or neighbors,” Vincent said. “If for some reason, you cannot check on them contact the sheriff’s office and we’ll be glad to do that.

“If someone runs out of heat in this cold, it can cause problems and we want to do whatever we can to help,” Vincent said.

As the cold approaches, it is also important to make sure pets are well taken care of. JoAnn Jones, a volunteer with PAWS of Hertford County, offered a variety of ways to take care of animals.

“First of all, if it is possible, bring them indoors in the cold weather,” Jones said. “If that isn’t possible, make sure you provide cedar chips, straw or some kind of bedding in their shelter.

“It is important to keep the shelter out of a windy area if possible and in a sheltered area,” Jones continued.

She also reminded pet owners that not having food, water and shelter for their animal can be against the law.

“Animal owners should be cognizant of the fact that pets can suffer and can freeze to death,” Jones stressed. “Do everything you can to make sure they are taken care of.”

Jones also suggested feeding animals more during the winter to allow them to build up additional fat.

Finally, people should make sure to take care of their plumbing and homes during the cold weather. Tommy Bryant of H.T. Bryant Plumbing and Repair said there are some common-sense ways to make sure the plumbing is protected.

“Make sure the foundation vents are closed around the bottom of the house and make sure the manhole door is up and closed,” Bryant said. “That will eliminate all the wind that could blow under the house.”

Bryant also said it was important to make sure exposed water lines are wrapped.

“Also, though it may cost a little more, I suggest bumping the heat up just a bit in the colder parts of the day,” Bryant said.

While newer homes are protected by insulation, Bryant said the age-old idea of having some water running to keep pipes in older homes from freezing was a good one.

“In newer or more modern homes, it is probably not necessary,” he said. “In older homes, however, which may have cracks and gaps in the foundation, it probably is a good idea to keep the water moving so it doesn’t freeze.”

As for vehicles, it is also necessary to take precaution during extreme cold.

AAA recommends a variety of safety measures including having the batter’s charge and cold cranking amp checked, keep the gas tank at least half full, check tire pressure, never use wiper blades to clear ice or frost and keep an emergency kit in the car.