Memphis, Shelby County and Tennessee states of emergency overlapped Friday afternoon as the prospect of an ice storm forced weather-related adjustments.
Shelby County Mayor Mark H. Luttrell, Jr., declared a state of emergency due to icing conditions throughout the county.
"Personnel from many emergency response and support agencies are working around the clock due to the ice storm. Besides overtime expenses, additional resources could be needed," said Luttrell. His declaration followed one issued Thursday by Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam.
Mayor A C Wharton's administration shut down all non-public safety operations at noon Thursday (Dec. 6). The Emergency Operations Center was activated as part of a state of emergency.
Ice has closed most schools and businesses throughout Shelby County. Law enforcement officers report an increase in traffic crashes. There have also been scattered power outages.
Temperatures continue to drop. Ice has now formed on roads, power lines and trees. "Those are critical concerns. However, our emergency operations center is open. We're tracking issues as they arise to ensure they're quickly addressed," said Bob Nations, Jr., Director of the Shelby County Office of Preparedness.
Citizens need to stay in constant contact with relatives and friends, especially those who are elderly, disabled or live alone. Pets need to be sheltered because of the dangerously cold temperatures.
Shelby County Public Works crews are spreading a mixture of salt and cinders on the streets. Bridges and overpasses are especially slick. Shelby County Office of Preparedness officials urge people not to drive unless absolutely necessary.
Here are some additional winter safety tips:
· Avoid being outside if possible
· Dress warmly if you have to leave home
· Keep water lines dripping
· Have plenty of blankets on hand should power go out
· IMPORTANT-If using a generator, make sure you vent the exhaust. Never use charcoal indoors due the deadly vapors
· If you must travel, keep your gas tank full, check the antifreeze level and windshield wipers
· Always have a heavy coat, hat, gloves and walking shoes in case your vehicle gets stranded
· Keep an emergency kit on board with first aid materials, bottles of water and snack foods
Health Department food safety guidelines during power outages
With the threat of winter weather approaching the Mid-South, the Shelby County Health Department (SCHD) is announcing food safety guidelines to help residents stay healthy and safe during potential power outages.
When frozen foods thaw, and refrigerated food warms, bacteria and other pathogens grown that can cause serious illnesses. If the power is out for less than four hours, the food in the refrigerator and freezer will be safe to consume. While the power is out, keep the refrigerator and freezer doors closed as much as possible.
If the power is out for more than four hours, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends the following guidelines:
· Frozen foods: A freezer that is half full will hold food safely for up to 24 hours. A full freezer will hold food safely for 48 hours. Do not open the freezer doors unless absolutely necessary.
· Refrigerated foods: Place milk, other dairy products, meat, fish, eggs, gravy, and spoilable leftovers into a cooler surrounded by ice.
· Use a food thermometer to check the temperature of food right before cooking or eating. Throw away any food that has a temperature of more than 40 degrees Fahrenheit.
SCHD Environmental Section also recommends the following:
· Do not purchase food from a restaurant that is without power
· Do not purchase prepared sandwiches or deli/refrigerated items from retail food stores that are without power
Restaurants operating without the ability to properly maintain appropriate food temperatures are in direct violation of state food service law. To report a restaurant believed to be operating unsafely, please call (901) 222-6758 with the restaurant's name and address.
(For up to date public health preparedness information follow @SCHDResponse.)