Stay warm as winter drags on

After a mild holiday season, it now seems winter has settled in to stay for awhile.

Here in the Southeast, we are accustomed to mild winters. Some years we don’t even have to get our heavy coats out of storage.

That doesn’t mean, however, that cold never sets in. Why, we’ve already seen a couple of snowfalls this January, and frigid temperatures have sent most of us scurrying inside several days this month.

Some milder days are still likely in our future, mixed with days – and especially nights – of sub-freezing temps. With that in mind, we want to remind our readers a little extra caution is wise during these winter months. We hope our friends and neighbors will take the necessary steps to stay safe and warm.

Remembering the four “P’s” will help: people, pets, plants and pipes.

PEOPLE

The Alabama Emergency Management Agency encourages people to protect themselves from the cold by layering up when going outside. Whether you’re hunting or doing house work, on the job or running errands, be sure you are dressed for the weather. Layering is a great way to keep your core body temperature where it needs to be, and don’t forgets hats and gloves for your extremities.

Of crucial importance are our more vulnerable populations. Remember to check on elderly family members and neighbors, as older adults can lose body heat so quickly they might not even realize how cold they are getting. Be sure they have adequate, functional home heating systems and access to needed outerwear.

Young children are also more in more danger from cold weather, so be sure they are bundled up warmly if they have to go outdoors.

PETS

The EMA encourages pet owners to protect their pets by giving them a warm place to sleep and food to eat. According to the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, pets can suffer from chapped paws and dry skin in severe cold, and pets with short hair are especially vulnerable to the cold.

Your sweet “furbabies” burn extra energy trying to stay warm in winter, so feeding them a little bit more during cold weather can provide much-needed calories.

The best warm place for our pets to sleep is off the floor and away from all drafts; a cozy dog or cat bed with a warm blanket or pillow is perfect.

PLANTS AND PIPES

Plants should be brought indoors as much possible and kept away from chilly windows, if they are to survive the coldest days of the year.

If a freeze is expected, vulnerable outdoor plants might require covering with towels or blankets.

For those with pipes susceptible to freezing, the EMA recommends opening cabinets under the faucet and letting the water slowly trickle until temperatures rise above freezing.

The bottom line is, there is always the potential for bitter cold in these first couple months of the year. Take those necessary precautions to ward off the chill and enjoy a cozy winter.

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