Published 11:01 pm Monday, January 6, 2014

Students walk across campus at Troy University in Troy, Ala., Monday, Jan. 6, 2013. (Photo/Thomas Graning)

Students walk across campus at Troy University in Troy, Ala., Monday, Jan. 6, 2013. (Photo/Thomas Graning)

City opens warming shelters

Troy Fire Chief Thomas Outlaw used to shelter people from severe cold temperatures at the fire station. He would offer the community room or the training room to residents who did not have heat in their homes.

This week, those measures will not be necessary. The City of Troy has taken measures to ensure all of its residents have shelter from the severe cold this week.

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“Everybody’s working together on this,” Outlaw said.

The National Weather Service has issued a hard freeze warning until 8 a.m. Wednesday morning. The Troy Recreation Center, located at 601 Enzor Road, will be available through Wednesday morning as a 24-hour warming center.

Daytime warming centers will be open during regular business hours at the Colley Senior Complex (715 Elm Street) and the Troy Nutrition Center (498 East Walnut Street).

“All of our departments are working around the clock to make certain we are prepared in case of emergency,” said Mayor Jason A. Reeves. “Our primary concern is for the safety and well being of our citizens and we will do whatever we can to keep them safe.”

City officials recommended staying home unless you absolutely have to be out. For those who will endure the dropping temperatures at home, Outlaw recommended taking every precaution to be avoid a house fire or carbon monoxide poisoning.

“People will do extraordinary things to stay warm,” he said.

Outlaw’s greatest concern was with space heaters. While newer models are relatively safe, he said older ones require a lot of power. Teamed with extension cords, the heaters could cause a fire.

Keep a multipurpose fire extinguisher near any area that will be heated.

If the heater has a damaged electrical cord or produces sparks, Outlaw said not to use it.

He also recommended keeping the area around heaters clear of any debris or flammable items.

“They’re called space heaters for a reason,” Outlaw said.

At least three feet should separate heaters from drapes, bedding and furniture.

To avoid carbon monoxide poisoning, Outlaw said to opt for a city shelter, not a stationary vehicle.

“A kerosene heater used inside is one of the things that scare me. Somebody could get carbon monoxide from those,” he said.

Outlaw suggested checking smoke detectors before turning on space heaters or using fireplaces. Each floor should have a detector and one should be installed near bedrooms.

In addition to the warming centers, the City of Troy Environmental Services will put sand and salt on all bridges and low-lying areas to counteract any ice that may form.

To report an impassable road, please call the 311 Call Center at 334.566.0177. The 311 Call Center will be open for extended hours until 7 p.m. tonight and later, if necessary.

Police and Fire will have extra patrol and crews on standby, and utilities are prepared for any power outages that may occur.

The potential for power outages would make the warming center all the more valuable, but traveling to those centers may prove treacherous. Police officers will be available to escort residents to the warming center if driving conditions are too dangerous.

The Alabama National Guard has provided 40-60 cots, but citizens must bring their own pillow and blanket. Showers are available as well, but toiletries and towels are not provided.

The Salvation Army has a limited number of blankets available. Anyone who needs a blanket may visit during the organization’s regular hours and ask for one.

For more information, contact Janet Marshall, special project coordinator for the City of Troy, at 670-6012.