January 8, 2014 Edition

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County faring well in extreme cold

Megan Heyl
Staff Writer

While the forecasted snow never hit Lawrence County, temperatures hit extreme lows Monday causing everyone to bundle up. According to Weather Underground, the highest the temperature reached Monday was 14.

Minor precipitation fell Sunday morning but mostly cleared out before temperatures dropped.

Lawrence County has faired well in the cold with isolated cases of frozen water meters and supply lines to individual homes, but no major water supply issues.

Black Rock Mayor Bonnie Ragsdale said that a few meters burst due to the cold temperatures. "If nothing else, this cold weather has helped us find the weak points in our water system."

Electricity has also held up and Entergy received no power outage reports in Lawrence County according to David Burnette, Entergy's customer service manager for Lawrence County.

Schools remained in session through the cold temperatures. Sloan-Hendrix Supt. Mitch Walton said school cancellations during the December ice storm and possible future inclement weather both impacted the decision to have school Monday.

"We try to get in as many days as possible realizing that we may have to deal with what is considered extremely cold temperatures," Walton said. He also said the he knew the school buildings would be warm and while on campus the students would be fed.

In some cases the cold weather has caused vehicles to not start. The Federal Emergency Management Agency advises proper oil and antifreeze levels to be maintained in extreme cold snaps. FEMA also states that heavier oils congeal more at low temperatures, which can cause improper lubrication.

It is also important to include blankets in a vehicle's emergency kit to keep warm in case of stalled engines.

Burnette said that there are several safety hazards that can coincide with cold weather. "We realize a lot of our customers will see a spike in their bills due to this cold weather, and the concern is that some customers who already struggle to pay for utilities may attempt to counter this by turning heat off or utilizing an improper or even unsafe alternate heat source to stay warm."

According to the Arkansas Department of Health, house fires are at greater risks during the winter due to unsafe heat sources.

Several actions can reduce the chance of house fires including: placing space heaters at least three feet away from anything that may catch fire, never leaving children unattended near a space heater, never leaving lit candles unattended and not using extension cords to plug in your space heater.

In addition, the Arkansas Department of Health reminds everyone to stay warm. Whenever temperatures drop below normal and as wind speed increases, heat can leave the body more rapidly.

The temperatures are forecasted to increase throughout the week reaching the 50s this weekend; however, there is a 50 percent chance of ice pellets Thursday according to Weather Underground.

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