Harsh winds and freezing temperatures have been a growing concern for Hall County officials since the storm began Monday evening.
Hall County Fire Marshal Scott Cagle said officials held a briefing Wednesday evening concerning the newest winter weather developments and the dipping temperatures.
“They predict us to be in a hard freeze, which is in the 20s or below, for the next 40 to 42 hours, so that is a long time to be in the 20s or below. We’re worried about that more than anything, and they are talking about another system moving in Friday,” Cagle said.
Cagle said the call volume has decreased significantly since the beginning of the storm, which reached a level unseen in the last 20 to 30 years, Hall County public information officer Katie Crumley said Tuesday.
“We’ve been very lucky and blessed to have a lull period so we could regroup and get ready for this next round,” Cagle said.
While there are a couple of warming stations available around the county, Cagle said his main concern is that of kerosene heaters, generators and the carbon monoxide they produce.
“My main concern as fire marshal is people do drastic things sometimes to stay warm,” he said.
The key steps are ventilation and making sure smoke detectors and carbon monoxide detectors are working.
“It’s always good to crack a window,” Cagle said. “That sounds crazy. That does let a little bit of the heat out, but also has that circulation to let out that carbon monoxide.
The best advice for those using generators is to keep the devices at least 10 feet away from the residence. Cagle also warned about being vigilant regarding candles in the home.
“We did have a fire in southern Hall County last night that did some damage to a bedroom and it was probably from a candle,” he said.
In terms of water and pipes, John Payne of Payne Plumbing in Gainesville said cutting the water off is of great importance for those still without power Wednesday night and today.
“You open faucets and drain out what you can and hope for the best,” Payne said.
Payne said all types of piping are susceptible to bursting, adding the winter storms of last year led his company to replace copper pipes more than any other type.
“Last year when we had the cold weather right at the first of the year, I don’t how many calls we had, how many busted pipes we fixed. We worked for about three weeks without a day off,” he said.
While the calls have not been drastic so far this go-around, Payne said the winds affecting the pipes are often the tipping point.
“When the wind picks up, that’s when we expect to start getting phone calls,” he said.
Payne suggested keeping vents closed in crawl spaces and keeping pipes insulated.