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Officials urge caution as temps drop this week

Photo by J.D. Sumner

Photo by J.D. Sumner

ALBANY, Ga. -- Temperatures have already taken a nose dive a strong arctic blast pushes through the South and public safety officials are urging care and concern for what could be the coldest days of the year.

With temperatures expected to settle in around the 20 degree mark for a good part of the week, Deputy Dougherty Emergency Management Director Jim Vaught is asking the public to be smart about staying warm.

"These are the kind of conditions where we're more likely to see fires caused by improper space heater use and where we'd expect to see more hypothermia cases, especially in children and the elderly," Vaught said.

With one person already dead due to fire this month, Vaught said that the Albany Fire Department is urging the public to be careful how they try and stay warm during the cold spell.

"Space heaters are a concern when it gets cold like this," Vaught said. "Just the normal warning when it comes to them: don't leave them on for extended periods of time, don't use them near papers or linen or anything that could catch fire, and don't walk out of a room or leave the house with them on.... most people won't leave the house with their washing machines or dishwashers running but they'll leave the space heater on."

Vaught, who was interviewed by phone from his house Sunday afternoon where the power was out likely due to the windy conditions, said that people should consider layering their bedding while they sleep so that if the power goes out, they can manage to keep warm. Care, he said, should be taken to avoid sweating, because the sweat will create a chill-effect when covers are removed.

Most importantly, Vaught said, just keep an eye on people who may need help staying warm. Check elderly neighbors to make sure they have what they need to stay warm and make sure children are covered.

"And just stay inside when you can," Vaught said.