City leaders offer critical advice to prepare citizens for -25 d - wave3.com-Louisville News, Weather & Sports

City leaders offer critical advice to prepare citizens for -25 degree wind chills

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Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer was joined by emergency responders and other city leaders at Sunday's news conference. Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer was joined by emergency responders and other city leaders at Sunday's news conference.

LOUISVILLE, KY (WAVE) - Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer said Sunday that Metro agencies are prepared for what he described as an "impending polar vortex," and he and other city leaders urged residents to prepare, as well. Bone-chillingly cold temperatures will settle into the area during the early part of the week with wind chill factors expected to plummet into the negative double digits.

"It's really, really important that all of our citizens are prepared for this bitter weather," Fischer said during a Sunday afternoon news conference at City Hall where he was joined by a small army of emergency responders who offered important tips to keep residents safe over the next few days. "These folks behind me here stand ready to help get our city through the next couple of days and make sure we're prepared as best we can."

[RELATED STORY: Last-minute weatherization could help thwart deep freeze]

Fischer first introduced John Gordon, Meteorologist in Charge of the National Weather Service's Louisville office, who said wind chills will drop to 25 degrees below zero overnight Sunday and will remain steady through Monday, rising only to 5 to 10 degrees below zero by Monday night after light snow falls on the city.

"This is a serious situation," Gordon said. "This is the coldest air we've had in 15 to 20 years across the metropolitan area." Gordon also expressed concern about the potential for a flash freeze situation during the Monday morning commute.

Because of the strong potential for slick roads and concern for students' safety in the cold temperatures, Jefferson County Public Schools superintendent Donna Hargens decided to cancel classes. "The safety and well-being of our students is always our top concern," Hargens said. "Given the absolute certainty of this situation, it made no sense to wait to let families know that there will not be school tomorrow, Monday, January 6 in Jefferson County."

[RELATED LINK: School and business closings]

Debbie Fox, Director of the Louisville Metro Emergency Management Agency (EMA) spoke on behalf of numerous Metro agencies and the city's public safety/public service partners and relayed to citizens critical information from each of them in bullet point form:

    EMS

  • Don't go out if you don't need to.  
  • If you rely on oxygen or a similar resource, make sure you have a good supply.

    Louisville Water Company

  • Keep a small flow of water running in your faucets to help keep your pipes from freezing.
  • Know where your water shut-off valve is located.    

    Public Works and Assets

  • Crews will be treating the roads Sunday night. They ask that drivers stay off the roads so they can do their jobs more efficiently since they have many miles to cover.

    LG&E

  • Call 502-589-1444 or 800-331-7370 with gas or electric issues, including downed power lines or outages.
  • All disconnects have been suspended through the duration of the cold snap.

    Louisville Metro Police Department

  • Call your neighbors to check on them.
  • If you see something, say something. Don't hesitate to call 911 or use a non-emergency line to report an urgent issue.

    Louisville Regional Airport Authority

  • Louisville International Airport and Bowman Field are prepared to deal with issues pertaining to the cold weather.
  • Contact individual airlines or visit flylouisville.com to check the status of flights. Most delays and cancellations are due to issues at airports in other cities.

    Coalition for the Homeless

  • Operation White Flag has been activated at Louisville homeless shelters, meaning no one will be turned away.
  • To keep people safe at night the Salvation Army, Wayside Christian Mission and Seven Counties Services will provide White Flag lodging throughout the winter.
  • Jefferson Street Baptist Center at 733 East Jefferson Street will extend its day shelter hours on Sunday, Monday and Tuesday. It also has an additional 20 beds available for men on Sunday and Monday nights.

    Louisville Metro Department of Health and Wellness

  • Be cautious when using alternative forms of heat or energy. Do not run generators indoors or in the garage. Do not use a grill as a source of heat indoors. If you use a kerosene heater, make sure to ventilate. Remember the three main symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning: sleepiness, headaches and dizziness. 
  • It takes fewer than 30 minutes to develop hypothermia and 10 minutes to develop frostbite. Stay indoors or wear layers of loose-fitting clothing if you have to go outside. Be sure to cover all extremities, including your ears and hands.

    Louisville Metro Animal Services

  • Bring pets indoors. If you have to let them out, go with them and keep them on a leash.
  • Before starting your car, tap on the hood in case a cat has sought shelter underneath it.

Fox also stressed the importance of having an emergency supply kit handy. "That includes, if you have to go out -- and we really hope that you don't have to go out -- that you have your vehicle supplied, that you're ready to travel, you have a weather radio and you have means of communication," she said.

Fischer strongly emphasized the potential risks of using alternative sources of energy and heat to stay warm, mentioning the danger twice during the news conference.

"Sometimes those sources can be very dangerous and ultimately deadly," Fischer said. "Unfortunately, we've already seen that with the deaths of three young folks in southern Indiana that officials believe is due to the use of a space heater that caused a fire here [on Saturday]."

[RELATED STORY: 3 juveniles killed in New Albany house fire]

The mayor also stressed the importance of neighbors helping neighbors during the threatening weather.

"Think about the people that you know that are older and that need help, that might be sick right now," he  said. "Check on your neighbors, your families and your friends and especially the elderly and those who live alone."

For more vital information to help weather the storm, visit the Louisville Metro Winter Resources Guide.

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