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Bundle up: Arctic blast is rolling in
Keep kids dressed warmly, pipes covered as temperature dives
Antonio Espinoza, left, supervises as Byron Perez, center, and Alejindro Jimenez, right, all of Richard Padgham Fine Custom Homes, patch up a roof Wednesday. - photo by SARA GUEVARA

The Arctic express arrives in North Georgia today, blowing in a January chill that can include frostbite and frozen pipes if you’re not careful.

The National Weather Service predicts local temperatures to dip into the teens overnight, making it important for residents to take precautions.

Today’s forecast from the National Weather Service calls for a high temperature of 32 degrees with winds gusting to 20 mph. Temps will then drop to around 12 degrees later tonight, and the wind-chill factor may reach minus-1 degree.

Friday’s high of 29 degrees isn’t expected to reach the freezing mark.

When it comes to keeping bodies warm in the winter chill, health officials say the magic word is "layers." That’s particularly important for children as they wait for the school bus.

"Every day during the announcements, we tell the children that we want them to wear their coats and extra layers underneath that to keep warm," said registered nurse Dee Scarpellino, school nurse for McEver Elementary School. "You can always take layers off if you get too hot, but if you are away from your house, it’s not so easy to add more layers if you get too cold.

"People should also be sure to cover their head and throat. And it is better to wear mittens than gloves, because mittens allow your fingers to stay close together, which helps to keep your hands warmer."

With the wind chill dropping near zero overnight, frostbite is a danger. Frostbite is damage to tissue left exposed to subfreezing temperatures, but it’s not difficult to avoid.

"When temperatures begin to reach freezing, there is a possibility of frostbite, but the key to that is prolonged exposure," Scarpellino said. "You have to be exposed for a prolonged amount of time to be susceptible to frostbite. We tell our children who have to stand at the bus stop to wait in their homes until the very last minute.

"Children tend to get frostbite faster than adults because they are smaller, but we hope that none of them are waiting at the bus stop or outside that long. And whenever the temperatures get too low, we don’t allow the students to go outside."

Although temperatures will be low for the next few days, the weather service isn’t predicting any major precipitation, though the area might see a few snow flurries with little accumulation as the cold air moves in.

As temperatures inch below freezing, it’s important for residents to keep an eye on their homes as well. Frozen pipes are a particular worry during cold snaps.

"The No. 1 thing to do is to make sure that the heat is on in your home," said Joe Sweetman, owner of Sweetman’s Plumbing Service. "The second thing would be to leave water dripping from faucets, especially in areas of the home that might get colder, like bathrooms on exterior walls."

While some residents may choose to turn a deaf ear to advice warning them to leave water dripping in their faucets, Sweetman says it’s important that they take heed.

"Moving water doesn’t freeze as easily as water that is sitting still, so that helps to cut down on the chances of your pipes freezing," he said. "Once a pipe is frozen, whenever the ice inside the pipe begins to expand, it can split the pipe, which can flood your home."

After a few days of deep freeze, the weather service predicts temperatures to warm slightly over the weekend, with highs in the 40s during the day and lows in the 20s overnight.