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Kentucky officials urge residents to prepare for emergencies ahead of arctic front

Kentucky Transportation Cabinet

A big winter storm is expected to hit the eastern and central parts of the country — including Kentucky — on Thursday. Temperatures will drop below freezing, with high winds, snow and rain forecasted through Christmas.

On Wednesday, Gov. Andy Beshear declared a state of emergency in Kentucky as the arctic front approaches. He warned the mix of snow and icy roads is expected to create dangerous travel conditions and urged residents to get off the roads by midday Thursday.

“One of our biggest concerns is a flash freeze. That's when the temperatures drop very, very, very quickly. And any rain or snow that there is turns to ice and with our temperatures, it's going to be very difficult to thaw,” Beshear said.

Beshear also signed an executive order to protect Kentuckians in the case of price gouging of necessary supplies, like shovels, gas, food and household items. Residents are urged to report violations through the state attorney general’s website.

Safety precautions and storm preparedness

With the risk of frostbite, Beshear said he’s requested every county designate at least one warming center. He added people should fill their cars with gas and pack them with supplies in case of emergency travel.

“If you have to travel to that warming center and perhaps get stuck on the road, [pack] what you need to stay warm until we can come and get you,” Beshear said.

The Kentucky State Police has compiled a list of necessities residents should place in their cars ahead of the inclement weather. Those include phone chargers, blankets, jumper cables and a windshield scraper.

Kentucky State Parks are also prepared to offer emergency shelter for people in travel trailers at either Jenny Wiley State Resort Park in Prestonburg or Buckhorn Lake State Resort Park in Buckhorn.

Power outages are possible amid the expected weather conditions, and people may turn to generators and space heaters to stay warm. But those carry risks, too, like carbon monoxide poisoning and fire.

Jeremy Slinker, director of Kentucky’s Emergency Management, said residents should take measures to protect against hypothermia. He also recommended being cautious when using alternative heat sources — including never using generators indoors. Instead, residents should place them 10-15 feet away from homes, he said.

“Please use carbon monoxide detectors and smoke detectors,” Slinker said in a statement. “With these sub-zero temperatures, we also need people to dress in layers, as hypothermia is a real threat. And please take time to protect pets and livestock, which are also at threat.”

The American Red Cross recommends bringing all pets indoors. For those that must remain outside, make sure they can safely access food and water. If possible, create a small enclosure raised off the ground where they can shelter. Clean their feet or paws of road salt, and keep them away from antifreeze, which can prove fatal.

Slinker also urged people to prepare their homes, like making sure furnaces are functioning and pipes are insulated to prevent them from freezing over.

Preventing excess cold air from entering the home is necessary to avoid damage, according to Louisville Water. The agency recommends wrapping exposed pipes with insulation material, blocking vents to crawl spaces and closing garage doors if the house is built on a slab.

Allowing a tap to release a slow, steady stream of water and opening cabinet doors can help prevent pipes freezing.

Relevant accounts and websites to monitor and check for resources: