PEARL – The Mississippi Emergency Management Agency wants residents to prepare for the possibility of winter weather beginning Friday and continuing through the weekend. The National Weather Service predicts rain, freezing rain, sleet and ice accumulation as temperatures drop to near or below freezing throughout much of the northern and central parts of the state.
The NWS has issued an ice storm warning for Desoto and Tunica counties, forecasting up to one half inch of ice from 6 a.m. until 6 p.m. Friday. A winter storm watch has been issued for Bolivar, Grenada, Humphreys, Issaquena, Leflore, Sharkey, Sunflower and Washington counties, with the possibility of ice accumulation up to one quarter inch. The state could see several waves of winter weather over the next five days.
“Our main concern is vulnerable citizens, and that icing will occur on roads, power lines and trees,” said MEMA Executive Director Robert Latham. “This means we could experience some dangerous driving conditions along with power outages. I encourage everyone to take time to check on at-risk family, friends and neighbors, especially those with home health needs. As always, remember to make sure your disaster supply kit is fully stocked in case of a loss of power for an extended period of time.”
MEMA and the Mississippi State Department of Health recommend the following tips to keep you safe:
- Make sure your family and neighbors know the risks and find ways to communicate with them during and after the storm.
- Keep contact with elderly and at-risk neighbors and relatives. Make sure they have a safe, warm place to stay while the conditions remain cold and hazardous.
- Check your emergency supply kit and make sure it is stocked with food, water, batteries, flashlights, etc. Avoid using candles.
- Make sure you have adequate clothing and blankets to keep you warm.
- Bring pets/companion animals inside during winter weather. Move other animals or livestock to sheltered areas with non-frozen drinking water.
- Drive only if it is absolutely necessary. If you must drive: travel in the day; don’t travel alone; keep others informed of your schedule; stay on main roads and avoid back road shortcuts.
- Let someone know your destination, your route and when you expect to arrive. If your car gets stuck along the way, help can be sent along your predetermined route.
- Keep sufficient heating fuel. You may become isolated in your home and regular fuel sources may be cut off. Store a good supply of dry, seasoned wood for your fireplace or wood-burning stove.
- Maintain ventilation when using generators or kerosene heaters to avoid build-up of toxic fumes. Never run generators or use charcoal grills inside your home, garage or near windows. Refuel kerosene heaters outside and keep them at least three feet from flammable objects. Do not run a vehicle inside a closed garage.
- Always treat downed power lines as live or active. If you notice downed power lines in your area, move away from the area immediately, and call your power service company, or 9-1-1. NEVER attempt to move, drive or walk over or near downed power lines as they can arc to you or your vehicle.
- If the pipes freeze, remove any insulation or layers of newspapers and wrap pipes in rags. Completely open all faucets and pour hot water over the pipes, starting where they were most exposed to the cold (or where the cold was most likely to penetrate).
- If power is out for less than two hours, food in your refrigerator and freezer will be safe to eat. Keep refrigerator and freezer doors closed as much as possible. After two hours, pack milk, other dairy products, meat, fish, eggs and other spoilable leftovers in a cooler surrounded by ice. A freezer that is half full will hold food safely for up to 24 hours. A full freezer will hold food safely for about 48 hours.
- Safe water for drinking, cooking and personal hygiene includes bottled, boiled or treated water. Pay close attention to boil water notices in your area. Do not use contaminated water to prepare food, wash your hands, make ice or baby formula. Boiling water, when practical, is the preferred way to kill bacteria and parasites. Bringing water to a rolling boil for one minute will kill most organisms.
MEMA will provide emergency information on our website, www.msema.org, MEMA’s free mobile phone app for android and iPhone users and on Facebook and Twitter.