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Extreme Cold

Tree covered in ice found in Downtown Columbus
Tree, covered in ice, found in Downtown Columbus.

Winter storms bring the threat of freezing rain, ice, and snow. Even small amounts of snow and ice can cause severe problems for Georgia. Winter storms are most likely to occur January through March with the highest risk in February. The farther north in the state and the higher the elevation, the more likely it will be cold enough for frozen or freezing precipitation to fall and cause problems.

Winter weather has the ability to knock out heat, power and communications services to your home or office, sometimes for days at a time. The National Weather Service refers to winter storms as the “deceptive killers” because most deaths are indirectly related to the storm. Instead, people die in traffic accidents on icy roads and of hypothermia from prolonged exposure to cold.

How Can I Be Prepared for Extreme Cold?

  1. Stay indoors.
  2. Make sure your home is properly insulated.
  3. If you must go outside or your heater stops working, dress in layers.
  4. Have an alternative emergency heating source, such as a fireplace or wood stove. Use appropriate safeguards and have proper ventilation.
  5. To keep pipes from freezing, wrap pipes in insulation or layers of old newspapers, cover the newspapers with plastic to keep out moisture, let faucets drip a little to avoid freezing, and know how to shut off water valves.
  6. Learn how to shut off water valves (in case a pipe bursts).
  7. If you suspect frostbite or hypothermia, begin warming the person slowly and seek immediate medical assistance. Arms and legs should be warmed last because stimulation of the limbs can drive cold blood toward the heart and lead to heart failure. Put the person in dry clothing and wrap their entire body in a blanket. Never give a frostbite or hypothermia victim alcohol or caffeine.
  8. Drive with caution and carry a disaster supplies kit in your trunk.

Extreme Cold Links

FEMA: Winter Weather
Ready.gov: Winter Storms and Extreme Cold
NOAA - Winter Weather Safety and Awareness
CDC: Winter Weather
American Red Cross: Winter Storms


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Department of the Columbus, Georgia Consolidated Government