By Kristen Talerico
Times West Virginian
With Marion County experiencing subzero temperatures this week, local emergency officials want to remind citizens to use caution and stay safe during the cold snap.
“These quickly falling temperatures result in a flash freeze,” said Sabrina Haught, a captain at the Marion County Department of Homeland Security and Emergency Management.
Haught encouraged people to follow these tips:
• If water lines freeze, use a hair dryer to warm them up.
• Do not use torches to unfreeze lines.
• Be aware of the symptoms of hypothermia and frostbite, including shivering, slurred speech and a weak pulse.
• Ventilate properly if using kerosene heaters.
• Dress in layers and cover your face if you have to be outside.
• Do not overexert yourself during outdoor activities.
• Avoid using candles as a source of light.
• Keep several flashlights handy.
• Never leave car running if you break down.
• Let someone know if you are traveling.
One thing Haught said is important during the cold temperatures is “keeping an eye on the elderly.”
She said the elderly can have a hard time contacting someone if power is lost, and might need extra assistance in the event of an emergency.
Haught said most children enjoy playing outside in the winter weather, but these temperatures are beyond comfortable.
“These are not the types of temperatures children should be outside in,” Haught said.
If someone’s electric goes off and he or she needs a warm place to seek shelter, there are options. Haught said the Baxter Volunteer Fire Department is providing a warming shelter for people who have lost power.
“Anyone can come down that is in need of heat and hot water,” said Travis Davis, captain of the Baxter VFD. “The fire department will be open to anyone at a first-come, first-serve basis.”
He said the food supply is limited.
Emergency Officials in Marion County have several warming stations on standby in case more weather related issues happen throughout the next few days. Additional stations include Worthington VFD, Fairview VFD, Mannington VFD, Homewood Station, Valley VFD, the Mannington Moose and Fairmont City Fire (Central Station).
Officials said the Union Mission in Fairmont is also offering assistance to those in need.
“We provide emergency overnight shelter, three meals a day, and a spiritual and addiction recovery program,” George Batten, executive director, said.
He added that the Penny Pincher Thrift Store continues to provide clothing and necessities to people in times of need.
“Fire victims, flood victims and anyone in desperate need of shelter is always welcome,” said Batten.
He said the Union Mission will try its best to provide for everyone in need, but sometimes supplies can be limited.
If at all possible, officials recommended people stay indoors and use caution to get through the next few days.
Email Kristen Talerico at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow her on Twitter @KTalericoTWV.