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County Officials Urge Public to Take Cold-Weather Precautions

November 24, 2010

Placer County officials are advising the public to take precautions to protect themselves and their families from unusually cold temperatures expected Wednesday and Thursday nights.

The National Weather Service has issued a freeze warning for Wednesday night, saying temperatures could drop to the upper teens in the foothills and the lower 20s in valley regions. The freeze warning is schedule to last until 10 a.m. Thursday. A freeze watch will remain in effect from late Thursday night through Friday morning.

In Placer County, the main resource for homeless residents and others who need shelter is The Gathering Inn, a faith-based organization that operates nomadic shelters throughout the year in Placer County

Suzi deFosset, The Gathering Inn’s executive director, reported that her organization opened two shelters last night because of the unusually cold weather. A total of 67 people stayed at the shelters overnight.

She reported only one shelter is scheduled to be open tonight, because last night’s turnout was only seven people more than normal and traditionally some homeless residents spend the Thanksgiving holiday at the homes of family members.

DeFosset noted that agencies such the Placer County Sheriff’s Department, other local law enforcement agencies, county Mental Health Services and the county’s Adult System of Care pay special attention to the shelter needs of the homeless and others during unusually cold weather and often refer them to the Gathering Inn.

For more information, contact The Gathering Inn at 916-791-9355.

"The public needs to be aware of the dangers of extremely cold weather and take necessary steps to stay warm and safe," said Dr. Jim Gandley, assistant director of the Placer County Health and Human Services Department.

He urged residents to look out after family members, friends and neighbors who are medically fragile, elderly or ill


1. Make sure you and your family are prepared.

  • Review and update your family emergency plan.
  • Replenish emergency supply kits, including battery-operated radio and flashlights.
  • Have extra blankets on hand.
  • Have a plan for meeting the needs of infants, children, seniors and those with disabilities.
  • Winterize your house, barn, shed and any other structure that may provide shelter for your family, neighbors, livestock or equipment.
  • Move family pets indoors or to an enclosure out of the elements. Likewise protect livestock or other large animals from the cold weather.
  • Move plants indoors or cover them with blankets or plastic to prevent freezing.
  • Maintain a sufficient supply of heating fuel.
  • Insulate pipes and allow faucets to drip during cold weather to avoid freezing.
  • Keep fire extinguishers on hand, and make sure everyone in your house knows how to use them. House fires pose an additional risk, as people turn to alternate heating sources without taking the necessary safety precautions.
  • Do not bring heating devices into the home that are intended for outdoor use, such as barbecues and other cooking equipment or other fuel-burning devices. These items can produce deadly carbon monoxide.
  • Learn how to shut off water valves in case a pipe bursts.
  • Hire a contractor to check the structural ability of the roof to sustain unusually heavy weight from the accumulation of snow or water if drains on flat roofs do not work.

2) Dress for the weather.

  • Wear several layers of loose-fitting, lightweight, warm clothing, rather than one layer of heavy clothing. The outer garments should be tightly woven and water repellent.
  • Wear mittens, which are warmer than gloves.
  • Wear a hat.
  • Cover your mouth with a scarf to protect your lungs.

3) Travel with caution.

  • Have your car winterized and make sure it is working properly.
  • Install good winter tires. Make sure the tires have adequate tread.
  • Augment your car’s emergency supply kit with a shovel, windshield scraper and blankets.
  • Maintain at least a half tank of gas during the winter season.
  • Check road conditions before departing.
  • Let others know of your route and your estimated time of arrival.

4) Recognize symptoms of exposure.

  • Confusion, dizziness, exhaustion and shivering are signs of hypothermia. If you experience any of these symptoms, seek medical attention immediately.
  • Gray, white or yellow skin discoloration, numbness or waxy skin are symptoms of frostbite. If you experience any of these symptoms, seek immediate medical attention.
  • In the case of overexposure to freezing temperatures, remove wet clothing and immediately warm the body with a blanket or warm fluids like hot cider or soup. Avoid caffeine or alcohol.