Take precautions to protect four p’s this winter
Winter began Dec. 21, 2023, and this week, we can really feel it.
In our neck of the woods, we are accustomed to mild winters. Some years we don’t even have to get those heavy coats out of storage. This week, however, we have certainly gotten the chance to bundle up, with frost and snow on the ground and freezing temperatures in the air – as low as single digits.
Although weather forecasts predict milder temperatures again by next week, we’re likely to have a few more cold snaps before spring returns. We hope our friends and neighbors in Franklin County will take the necessary steps to stay safe and warm as 2024 begins.
Remembering the four “p’s” is a cornerstone of dealing with frosty temperatures: people, pets, plants and pipes.
The Alabama Emergency Management Agency encourages people to protect themselves from the cold by layering up when going outside. Also, don’t just think about yourself; make the time to be sure neighbors, family and friends have what they need to weather the weather. Older adults especially can lose body heat so quickly they might not even realize just how cold they are getting, according to the National Institute on Aging. Young children are also more susceptible to suffering in freezing weather, so be sure they are bundled up warmly if you must go outdoors.
Reach out to those who might be vulnerable and need a little extra help warding off the chill and make sure they can stay toasty warm.
The EMA encourages pet owners to protect their “fur babies” 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. Our sweet animals burn extra energy trying to stay warm in wintertime, 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 should be brought indoors if possible and kept away from chilly windows. Keep an eye on the forecast: If a freeze is expected, vulnerable outdoor plants might require covering with towels or blankets. Tender, young and tropical plants and crops are the most at risk. A severe frost can damage or even kill your favorite flowers and shrubs.
Although living things of course need the most care, don’t forget the last p – your pipes. 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. To do otherwise might be not only inconvenient but also costly. Frozen pipes bursting is one of the most common causes of property damage during frigid weather and can cause thousands in water damage. The pipes most likely to be a problem are those in the cooler spaces of your home, such as basements, attics and garages. Don’t forget your outdoor spigots, too!
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 start to the year.