ASHEVILLE NC – The return of warmer temperatures offers the opportunity for relaxation and exploration outdoors. Whether you’re relaxing in the backyard, turning up your garden, enjoying the pool or taking part in another outdoor activity, you’ll want to be sure and keep your distance from disease-causing pests. Here are some ways you and your family can remain healthy while outdoors this spring and summer.
Prevent Mosquito and Tick Bites
Warmer temperatures aren’t just attractive to people, but to mosquitoes and ticks as well. Small as they are, these tiny creatures can cause severe illness, and in some cases, even death. There are several simple and effective ways to avoid their bite without missing out on your favorite outdoor activities.
One of the most recommended ways to avoid mosquitoes is to avoid going outdoors when they are most likely to bite – from dusk to dawn. Unfortunately, in Western North Carolina, we have some mosquitoes, such as the tree-hole mosquito, that tend to be out and bite all day.
To enjoy your outdoor activities at any time, repel mosquitoes by regularly using a mosquito and tick repellent that contains DEET, picaridin, IR3535 or oil of lemon eucalyptus.
In addition to using mosquito repellant on exposed skin, wear long pants tucked into your socks and long sleeves to protect yourself from bites.
Treat clothing with permethrin (which protects through several washings) or buy clothes that are pre-treated with permethrin.
Always follow the directions on repellent packages carefully and use caution when treating small children.
Ticks are out all the time. Young ticks are so small that they can be difficult to see, but both young and adult ticks look to animals and sometimes people to bite.
Keep ticks at a distance by avoiding tick-infested areas, especially places with leaf-litter, brush, and high grasses.
Use a mosquito and tick repellent containing 20% DEET.
Shower as soon as possible after coming indoors and check your body for ticks. Make sure that your children also bathe or shower and check them for ticks as well.
Call your healthcare provider if you develop symptoms of a tick-borne illness 1 – 3 weeks following a bite. Symptoms may include rash, fever, body aches, fatigue, headache, stiff neck or disorientation.
Keep Mosquitoes and Ticks out of Your Yard
Look around your yard and neighborhood and remove any items that may collect standing water, such as buckets, old tires, toys and flowerpots.
Mosquitoes can breed in small amounts of water in just a few days.
Replace or repair torn window screens to keep mosquitoes out of the house.
You can reduce the likelihood that ticks will live around your home by removing leaf litter, brush and woodpiles around your house and at the edge of your yard.
Beware of Bats
Bats are fun to watch as they flutter around at dusk. In many camp areas, the sighting of bats is common and normal; however, bats can be infected with rabies and may pose a risk for exposure to humans.
What To Do If You Find a Bat
Get everyone out of the room, cabin, or tent and close the bat inside.
Whenever possible, the bat should be captured and sent to a lab for rabies testing. Follow instructions for capturing bats.
Knowing if a bat has rabies helps those who may have been exposed decide if they should get rabies post-exposure vaccines. This is especially important if someone was sleeping in the room where the bat was found because the bite of a bat can be very small and go unnoticed. Once symptoms of rabies begin, it is almost always fatal.
If you are bitten by a bat, wash the affected area thoroughly and get medical advice right away. In Buncombe County go to the Emergency Department at Mission Hospital.
Remind children to never touch a bat.
If you find a bat in your residence, do not release it. Leave the room, closing the bat inside if possible, and call animal control or law enforcement for your area.
Don’t forget to protect your pets!
While you’re outside enjoying the weather, remember to protect your pets too. Keeping healthy pets will help keep you and your family healthy.
Dogs, cats and ferrets need to be kept up-to-date on their rabies vaccines. In Buncombe County you can get low-cost rabies vaccines for your furry friends at clinics sponsored by Buncombe County and the Asheville Humane Society. Click here to learn more.
Protect family pets from ticks and fleas by keeping them on a flea and tick control program. Talk to your veterinarian for advice on the appropriate anti-bug products to use on your pet.
You don’t have to let the threat of illness from mosquitoes, ticks or bats dampen your outdoor fun in warm weather. Take these simple precautions, get on outside and enjoy! Have a safe and healthy spring and summer!
For More Information
If you have questions or concerns about diseases that may be transmitted through bites, contact your healthcare provider or the Buncombe County Communicable Disease Program at 250-5109.
For questions about eliminating ticks or mosquitoes from your yard, you may call Buncombe County Environmental Health at 250-5016.
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ASHEVILLE NC – The potential for frozen pipes increases dramatically when temperatures drop below freezing. Here are some tips to help you keep your pipes from freezing and to help you know what to do if they do freeze.
Be aware of which pipes are most likely to freeze.
In an outside wall behind a sink.
Where pipes run through crawlspaces under houses.
Where exterior faucets are not shut off on the interior.
It’s hard to find a spot where cold air hits a pipe directly and freezes the line. It can freeze in that location and keep the whole line from flowing. Look for where a pipe may pass a crawlspace vent, basement window, or run along a sill plate. Look for areas where there is cold air coming in.
Precautions to Take
If you haven’t already taken the steps necessary to avoid pipes freezing here are some precautionary steps you can take:
Know where and how to shut off your water from the main shut-off valve.
Seal air leaks around pipes that allow cold air to seep in.
Insulate pipes near outer walls, in crawl spaces or in attics.
In exposed or problem areas, you may use heat tape or heat cables to prevent freezing. Make certain they are UL approved and that you follow manufacturer’s instructions.
Disconnect garden hoses, shut off and drain water from pipes leading outside.
Turn your faucet on just enough to have constant dripping (for pipes that may be on exterior wall)
Open cabinet doors to allow heat to circulate around pipes under a sink. It may be necessary to remove a piece of the drywall so the warm inside air can reach the pipes.
Leave heat on and set no lower than 55 degrees.
If you plan to be away from home, have someone check on your house daily.
Close foundation vents if the temperature drops below freezing for a significant period of time. Re-open when weather warms.
Putting a light near a chronic location where pipes freeze will keep the pipe from freezing. Be careful not to let the bulb or lamp get too close to any combustible surface.
If Pipes Freeze
Shut off water valves. Stopping the flow of water can minimize the damage to your home.
Call a plumber to thaw your pipes. Thawing yourself can lead to greater damage and can be a hazard.
If your pipes burst, call a plumber and your insurance agent.
Although we do NOT recommend thawing pipes yourself, if you do try to thaw:
Don’t try to thaw the pipes with an open flame or torch. Besides being a fire hazard, the torch’s hot flame may create steam that can burst a pipe.
Don’t use ungrounded electrical appliances outdoors, or near grounded water pipes.
Be careful of the potential for electric shock in and around water.
Never start a debris fire to warm pipes.
When thawing pipes, always work from the open faucet toward the frozen area. This will keep steam from being trapped by ice and bursting the pipe.
The safest approach to thawing a frozen pipe is to wrap a towel around the pipe at the suspected area and pour hot water unto it. Slide the towel along the suspect pipe and keep adding hot water until you reach the area where it is frozen. This method will never overheat the pipe or create a fire danger. Be sure to have the faucet or valve turned on so you’ll know when the water begins flowing.
A quick and effective method to thaw pipes is to use a hair dryer, but it can also pose some risks. Never let the pipe get hotter than what you can touch – you don’t want to get it so hot that it generates steam. As long as the pipe feels warm it should be enough to thaw the ice.
For more information, call Buncombe County Cooperative Extension at 255-5522.
ASHEVILLE NC – Grady the Groundhog, Chimney Rock‘s live animal ambassador, will be making his annual prediction at the Park when he awakens from his winter slumber on Saturday, February 2. From 11 a.m. to 1 p.m., the public is invited to an educational program and shadow sighting in the Meadows, followed by kids’ crafts and family guided hikes. If Grady sees his shadow, we can expect six more weeks of winter weather ahead—but if not, then spring should be around the corner! Cast your vote on whether he’ll see his shadow at chimneyrockpark.com.
Reduced admission during the waterfall trail closure is $12 adult and $6 youth (ages 5-15); free for kids 4 and under. For special admission on Feb. 2, get one free youth admission with each paid adult. During February, Grady’s Kids Club memberships are on sale for only $8.
“Grady’s Groundhog Day is like Groundhog Awareness Day,” said Matt Popowski, PR & Events Manager at Chimney Rock. “Grady is a local celebrity—the kids love him! We hope everyone gains a better understanding of and appreciation for these popular woodland critters.
Grady’s Groundhog Day. Join Emily Walker, Chimney Rock’s Education Manager, at 11 a.m. near the Classroom on the Meadows for a nature program on the life of groundhogs and the Groundhog Day tradition, followed by Grady’s shadow sighting. Half-hour guided family hikes will start at noon and 12:30 p.m. on the Great Woodland Adventure trail. Kids’ Groundhog Day crafts will be offered from noon to 1 p.m.
Vote Online. Will Grady give the same prediction as Punxsutawney Phil? Or will he daringly give his own prediction about winter’s claim on the weather? Cast your vote online whether you think Grady will see his shadow at chimneyrockpark.com. Then attend the event or check back on the Park’s website or Facebook page on February 2 to see if you guessed correctly.
Grady’s Kids Club Special. To celebrate Grady’s special day, Chimney Rock is offering a discount on memberships to Grady’s Kids Club, the Annual Pass for youth, for only $8 during February—and it’s been extended to 18 months. For just 44 cents a month, kids ages 5-15 get unlimited visits to the Park for 18 months, discounts on Park food, retail and events and additional savings at favorite area attractions. Buy your kid’s pass online, by phone at (800) 277-9611 or at the park during February 1-28, 2013.
Animal Fun. Adjacent to the Great Woodland Adventure, a popular TRACK Trail for kids, is Grady’s Animal Discovery Den. It’s home to a handful of live animal habitats, including snakes, an opossum and Grady the Groundhog. These critters are stars in some of the park’s education programs for schools, homeschoolers and scouts. The Den also features hands-on, kid-friendly displays of furs and skulls from native animals, including deer, skunks and turtles.
This is the fifth year of Chimney Rock’s annual Groundhog Day event but only the third with Grady as the star of the show. The official Groundhog Day can be traced back to 1886 in Punxsutawney, Pa. For more information on Chimney Rock’s hands-on education programs for schools, homeschoolers and scouts, as well as summer camps, visit chimneyrockpark.com/education.
About Chimney Rock
Chimney Rock at Chimney Rock State Park has been one of the Southeast’s most iconic and popular travel destinations for more than 100 years. Beyond its stunning 75-mile views of Lake Lure and Hickory Nut Gorge, Chimney Rock offers scenic hiking, rock climbing, Grady’s Animal Discovery Den and educational events year-round. It’s the only state park in the Southeast with an elevator inside a mountain. The park’s 404-foot waterfall was featured in The Last of the Mohicans’ final 17 minutes. Chimney Rock is located only 40 minutes southeast of Asheville on Highway 64/74A in Chimney Rock, N.C. Call (800) 277-9611 or visit chimneyrockpark.com.
ASHEVILLE NC – Peak fall colors are on the horizon in Chimney Rock and Lake Lure. Leaf peepers aiming their sights on the best color should plan a visit to see the area’s higher elevations over the next week. Lower elevations are expected to reach peak during the first week of November and could last into the second week if weather conditions are ideal. Chimney Rock at Chimney Rock State Park offers 75-mile views overlooking Lake Lure, five scenic hiking trails with vistas like Exclamation Point and the Opera Box, rocking climbing and an annual fall photography workshop. Park admission is only $15 adult, $7 youth (ages 6-15) and free for kids under six. Weekly fall color and wildflower reports are available to help you plan your visit at chimneyrockpark.com.
Fall Color Report, 10-24-2012:
The higher elevations of Chimney Rock and Lake Lure have exploded with vibrant leaf colors, displaying remarkable color around the Chimney level. Hiking the Skyline trail from the Chimney to Exclamation Point is quite spectacular! Golden yellows have appeared in the buckeyes, birch, beech and walnut trees. The hickories are also starting to turn yellow. Sourwoods and some dogwoods are still bright red, and the maples are adding red to the mountains.
Some fall wildflowers, such as goldenrod and asters, continue to dot the Park’s colorful landscape. The remaining areas of green in lower elevations should benefit from an ideal 10-day forecast of sunny days and cool nights, causing a beautiful transformation of autumn colors to spread down the mountainsides. Leaf peepers visiting Chimney Rock over the next week will be rewarded with peak color at the higher elevations, with lower elevations reaching peak around the first week of November.
ASHEVILLE NC – Visitors to Western North Carolina’s mountains can look forward to a good display of color this autumn, although some areas will enjoy brighter hues than others, predicts Kathy Mathews, Western Carolina University’s fearless fall foliage forecaster.
The intensity of the color show will vary depending on where leaf-peepers are looking because of fluctuations in the amount of rainfall received across the region this spring and summer, said Mathews. An associate professor of biology at WCU who specializes in plant systematics, she bases her annual prediction in part on weather conditions, including rainfall, during the spring and summer growing season.
“This should be a pretty good year for fall color, but colors will be spotty,” Mathews said. “Many areas of Western North Carolina have experienced a lot of rainfall throughout the year, while Asheville and points north have been drier. The drier areas should have the best fall color, while the wetter areas will be less vibrant.”
Mathews believes that the formation of higher levels of yellow, orange and red pigments in the leaves correlates with dry weather throughout the year. The drier the climate, the more brilliant the fall leaves tend to be, she said.
“This has been an unusually rainy spring and summer for much of Western North Carolina, which, if it continues through September and October, could mean less color, especially in the red range,” she said. “However, if evening temperatures continue to drop steadily through the next two months, it will hasten the loss of green from the leaves to reveal more yellow and orange pigments.”
In addition, a trend of warm, wet weather could equate to a longer fall color season. Mathews predicts that areas that have seen drought conditions, including the U.S. Midwest, may experience bright fall color, but only for a brief period before trees drop their leaves.
As is the case with predicting the weather, there are no guarantees when it comes to forecasting the intensity of the fall color season. Cloud cover and ample rainfall in the weeks ahead could mute the color show, Mathews said.
Cooler temperatures and fewer hours of daylight in the autumn contribute to the decomposition of chlorophyll, the chemical that gives leaves their green color in spring and summer. As chlorophyll breaks down, yellow and orange pigments – always present in the leaves, but masked by the green of chlorophyll – are revealed, and new red pigments are produced.
Depending upon the timing of the first frost, the peak of fall color should arrive during the second week of October in the higher elevations, and during the third week of October in the mid-elevations, Mathews said. Because freezing temperatures quickly degrade chlorophyll, leaves predictably peak in color a few days after a frost, she said.
The color change should begin at the higher mountain elevations in late September and continue through mid-November in the lower levels of WNC.
Regardless of when the peak is and how intense the hues are, visitors can always find good fall color somewhere in the WNC mountains, Mathews said.
“We have more than 100 tree species in the Southern Appalachians, which means not only many different colors of leaves in the fall, but also a lengthy fall color season. Some trees change and drop leaves very early, such as tulip poplar and yellow buckeye, while others linger and change later, such as oaks and hickories.”
The U.S. Northeast and Midwest have fewer tree species with good fall color, mainly sugar maples, leading to a short burst of brilliant colors, she said. “The same is true in the Western states, with color mainly coming from quaking aspens,” she said. “In Europe, again, there are many fewer tree species, meaning shorter, less diverse fall color than in the Southern Appalachians.”
From the Great Smokies to the Blue Ridge, the WNC mountains offer ample opportunity for leaf-looking this fall, Mathews said.
“Look for some of the best colors on Grandfather Mountain, the Graveyard Fields area of the Blue Ridge Parkway, and the Nantahala National Forest along U.S. Highway 64 between Macon and Clay counties,” she said. “These and other ridgetop areas show colors in all hues of red, orange and yellow. The forested areas will have a lot of yellow tulip poplars, red maple, and orange and red oak. Graveyard Fields also has a lot of shrubs that turn red.”
ASHEVILLE NC – A-B Tech’s Institute for Climate Education is offering a series of winter non-credit Continuing Education classes on subjects ranging from weather lore to the history of meteorology.
“Weather Lore MythBusters” will be offered from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. March 3 on the College’s Asheville campus and will investigate popular sayings that have been used for centuries to help forecast coming weather events.
“There is a vast collection of proverbs and rhymes that have been passed from generation to generation to guide farmers, sailors, herdsman and others on how to predict the weather,” said Pamela McCown, Coordinator of the Institute for Climate Education. “We’ll put weather lore to the test, covering how some of the popular sayings started, and if they are a real indication of what to expect in the near future.”
“Mountain Weather and Climate” will focus on Western North Carolina’s microclimates. Students will learn about the major weather patterns that influence the region, as well as how the mountains impact the weather in specific locations causing microclimates. The class will also recap historic and extreme weather events including the 1993 blizzard and winters of 2009 and 2010. The course is offered from 6 to 8 p.m. Feb. 16, 23 and March 1.
Other courses offered this winter include Aviation Weather Safety and History of Meteorology, Weather Lore and How the Weather Has Affected Historical Events. Visit the Institute’s webpage for more information.
ASHEVILLE NC – The Institute for Climate Education at A-B Tech will host a seminar on the winter forecast for Western North Carolina at 6 p.m. Dec. 6 in Ferguson Auditorium on the College’s Asheville campus. The talk is free and open to the public.
“The Long-Range Winter Forecast for Western North Carolina” will be presented by Meteorologist Tom Ross. “Winter weather can have a profound impact on our lives and on the investments that we’ve made in our landscaping and crops,” Ross said. “We’ll look at the global weather patterns to see if another harsh winter could be in store for our region.” There will be a question-and-answer session following Ross’ presentation.
“We’re all interested in getting the scoop about what the coming winter may bring,” said Pamela McCown, coordinator for the Institute for Climate Education. “It’s one of the questions I get asked the most. The last two winters have produced very snowy periods, and while that can be great news for some businesses like ski resorts, it can make it difficult for parents with children in school when schools must close. Our goal is to help people be prepared as best we can.”
ASHEVILLE NC – Buncombe County has enjoyed some beautiful fallweather over the last few weeks so it may be hard to imagine that winter weather will soon be here. Now is the time for us to begin preparing for snow, ice and strong winds. It’s important for us to prepare because winter weather can cause power outages that result in loss of heat, water and communications to our homes and businesses.
Preparing for winter storms is very similar to preparing for other emergencies like hurricanes or floods, with the addition of a few cold-weather supplies. Follow the three steps below now so that you and your family will be ready for whatever situation this winter brings.
Step 1: Get a Kit
Get an Emergency Supply Kit which includes items like non-perishable food, water, a battery-powered or hand-crank radio, extra flashlights and batteries.
Thoroughly check and update your family’s Emergency Supply Kitbefore winter approaches and add the following supplies in preparation for winter weather:
Rock salt or more environmentally safe products to melt ice on walkways. Visit the Environmental Protection Agency for a complete list of recommended products.
Sand to improve traction
Snow shovels and other snow removal equipment.
Also include adequate clothing and blankets to keep you warm.
Step 2: Make a Plan: Prepare Your Family
Make a Family Emergency Plan. Your family may not be together when disaster strikes, so it is important to know how you will contact one another, how you will get back together and what you will do in case of an emergency.
Plan places where your family will meet, both within and outside of your immediate neighborhood.
It may be easier to make a long-distance phone call than to call across town, so an out-of-town contact may be in a better position to communicate among separated family members.
You may also want to inquire about emergency plans at places where your family spends time: work, daycare and school. If no plans exist, consider volunteering to help create one.
Take a Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) class from your local Citizen Corps chapter. Keep your training current.
Step 3: Be Informed: Prepare Your Home
Make sure your home is well insulated and that you have weather stripping around your doors and windowsills to keep the warm air inside.
Insulate pipes with insulation or newspapers and plastic and allow faucets to drip a little during cold weather to avoid freezing.
Learn how to shut off water valves (in case a pipe bursts).
Keep fire extinguishers on hand, and make sure everyone in your house knows how to use them. House fires pose an additional risk as more people turn to alternate heating sources without taking the necessary safety precautions.
Know ahead of time what you should do to help elderly or disabled friends, neighbors or employees.
Hire a contractor to check the structural stability of the roof to sustain unusually heavy weight from the accumulation of snow – or water, if drains on flat roofs do not work.
If you have a car, fill the gas tank in case you have to leave. In addition, check or have a mechanic check the following items on your car:
Antifreeze levels – ensure they are sufficient to avoid freezing.
Battery and ignition system – should be in top condition and battery terminals should be clean.
Brakes – check for wear and fluid levels.
Exhaust system – check for leaks and crimped pipes and repair or replace as necessary. Carbon monoxide is deadly and usually gives no warning.
Fuel and air filters – replace and keep water out of the system by using additives and maintaining a full tank of gas.
Heater and defroster – ensure they work properly.
Lights and flashing hazard lights – check for serviceability.
Oil – check for level and weight. Heavier oils congeal more at low temperatures and do not lubricate as well.
Thermostat – ensure it works properly.
Tires – make sure the tires have adequate tread. All-weather radials are usually adequate for most winter conditions.
Windshield wiper equipment – repair any problems and maintain proper washer fluid level.
ASHEVILLE NC – The Renaissance Computing Institute (RENCI) at UNC Asheville will hold a drop-in open house from 3:30-5 p.m. Friday, Oct. 28, at the RENCI at UNC Asheville Engagement Site, located in the Grove Arcade, downtown Asheville. The event is free and open to the public.
The RENCI at UNC Asheville Engagement Site provides leading-edge technology for area decision makers and other collaborators in the areas of disaster research, mitigation and preparedness, taking advantage of Western North Carolina’s expertise in weather and climate modeling, visualization and public outreach.
Visitors will see a 16-foot visualization wall, an immersive GeoDome, geospatial climate information viewers, and 3-D visualizations in action. They will learn about projects such as the Livable Communities Initiative, the Early Warning System designed to track unexpected forest change and potential threats. Visitors can see the Urban Growth Model for the Asheville region, a web-based template system for assessing climate change impacts and management options, and the Buncombe County Multi-Hazard Risk Tool which analyzes flooding impacts and mitigation.
RENCI at UNC Asheville staff are excited about welcoming the public to the engagement site. “The RENCI at UNC Asheville Engagement Site is a resource for our collaborators, decision makers, and the public,” Susan Weatherford, RENCI at UNC Asheville project manager, said. “Coming to our engagement site during the open house and using our tools and technologies is a great way to learn about our communities, our region, and our nation.”
For more information, please contact Nina Flagler Hall, community engagement coordinator for the RENCI at UNC Asheville Engagement Site, at 828.225.6575 or firstname.lastname@example.org, or visit unca.renci.org.
The UNC Asheville Community Engagement Site is located in Suite 116 of the Grove Arcade, on the O’Henry Avenue side of the building, at One Page Avenue in downtown Asheville.