Freezing lows are in the forecast for most of the next 10 days, and temperatures are expected to drop in the low 20s at the end of the week.
With no rain in the upcoming forecast as of Wednesday, it’s likely Hall County is in for a bit of cold weather but no serious problems with ice on roadways or power outages, according to Hall County Fire Services.
But ice or no ice, cold weather can be deadly for those without homes or shelter. For these, the Rev. Jerry Deyton is offering overnight shelter at The Way day center at 857 Bradford St. SE.
“We just let them come in, have a meal and stay there. I’ve got a bunch of mats and blankets and stuff we’ll lay on the floor,” Deyton said. “They can stay overnight … and we’ll just see what the weather does.”
How to help
Heavy blankets can be donated to The Way day center at 857 Bradford St. SE between the hours of 7 a.m. and 1 p.m. ahead of the week’s cold snap.
He plans to open his day shelter overnight on Sunday and Monday, when temperatures will dip into the 20s after dark. Deyton said he’s expecting about 15 men and four to five women — regulars that he sees about every day.
Men and women are separated into different rooms of the shelter. He knows about all of the people who are likely to use his shelter, but said it’s open to anyone who needs it.
“We’ll just make room for all that we can get in,” Deyton said.
At the moment, The Way needs heavy blankets ahead of the cold weather. They can be dropped at the center during its 7 a.m. to 1 p.m. business hours.
“We’ve been rounding some (blankets) up the past couple of days making sure we have enough for people coming in,” Deyton said.
When deciding whether to open, the pastor said he usually doesn’t open the shelter to the homeless if temperatures dip one night and rebound the next. He also helps to pass out blankets and sleeping bags to people who need them for the winter.
But if there are back-to-back nights with freezing temperatures — as there will be late this week and into next week — Deyton plans to give people a warm place to avoid the worst of the cold.
“Last year I wasn’t open but for about two nights, and they’ve already spent three nights down there this year,” Deyton said. “I think we’re going to have a rougher winter this year, so we’ll be down there quite a bit.”
A 20 percent chance of snow remains in the forecast for the weekend, so keep an eye on weather reports and the National Weather Service in Peachtree City for possible travel hazards.
And a lack of rain doesn’t mean it can’t get icy around the house or that cold weather can’t cause its own problems. Hall County emergency responders are bracing for an uptick in calls as people suffer falls and need emergency medical attention, said spokesman Zachary Brackett, and Fire Services is warning residents to take care when using alternative methods to heat homes.
“What you run into nationwide: Confined fires account for about 75 percent of a home heating fire — that would be a fire confined to a chimney, a flue, something like that,” Brackett said.
It’s a little late now, he said, but getting a chimney inspected before using it for the season is always a good idea. When using a fireplace, properly dried wood can help prevent creosote buildup — the fuel that helps ignites chimney fires — on chimney walls.
If you’re using a kerosene heater, make sure there’s a carbon monoxide sensor in the room and avoid leaving the home with heaters running.
Burst pipes can also cause trouble. Proper insulation can prevent pipes from freezing, and inspecting pipes before the thaw can help prevent flooded basements and homes.