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Freezing Weather

In the southern US, near-freezing temperatures are considered extreme cold.  Without dressing properly in the winter, extended exposure to extremely cold temperatures can cause frostbite or hypothermia and become life-threatening; infants and elderly people are most susceptible.  Fog and icy patches on roads, especially on bridges, create dangerous conditions for unprepared drivers.  Freezing temperatures can cause severe damage to citrus fruit crops and other unprotected vegetation.  Exposed water pipes, and pipes in homes that are poorly insulated or without heat, can burst. 

Prepare and Protect:  People, Pets, Plants, and Pipes - and Practice Fire Safety!

Wind Chill is the term used to describe the effect of wind in cold weather.  The colder the air temperature and the higher the wind speed, the colder it will feel on your skin; heat is carried away from the body at a faster rate, driving down both the skin temperature and eventually the internal body temperature.  Animals are also affected by wind chill, especially those not acclimated to cold weather.  

Hypothermia occurs when body temperature drops to 95° Fahrenheit.  It can kill.  For the people and animals who survive hypothermia, there are likely to be lasting kidney, liver, and pancreas problems.  Warning signs include uncontrollable shivering, drowsiness, disorientation, incoherence, memory loss, slurred speech, and apparent exhaustion. 

Winter increases the risk of burns and house fires, too.  More than 25,000 residential fires and hundreds of deaths are associated with the use of space heaters, overloaded circuits, frayed wires, carbon monoxide, and combustible materials placed too close to heaters or open flames.  Be sure all heating appliances, fireplace chimneys, and holiday decorations are used safely.

Graphic heading says Prepare Now surrounded by a Blue Circle


Graphic heading says Survive During the Hazard surrounded by Orange Circle


Graphic heading says Be Safe After the Hazard surrounded by Green Circle


  • Sign up for Frost Advisories and Freeze Warnings through the AlertNassau notification system.

  • Understand the effects of wind chill and how to avoid them.  

  • Build a Kit.  Have emergency supplies in place at home in case of power outages.

  • Learn how to heat the home safely if a fireplace, wood stove, or space heater is used. 

    • Portable electric space heater - use one that has a heating element guard and automatic shut-off in case it is tipped over.  Place it at least three feet away from anything that could ignite; turn it off before leaving or going to sleep.

    • Fireplace - have the chimney inspected annually and cleaned if needed.

  • Install and maintain smoke detectors throughout the house. 

  • Have the right types of fire extinguishers  for potential cooking or house fires and learn how to use them properly.  ​

  • Install carbon monoxide detectors on every level of your home.  Carbon monoxide is a colorless, odorless gas that can kill people and pets. especially if using alternative heating devices.

  • Keep vehicles maintained and ready for cold weather; check tire pressure, antifreeze level, heater, defroster, etc.

  • Learn how to shut off water valves in case a pipe does burst.

  • Make sure holiday decorations are safe.

   Protect the 4 Ps:

  1. People​

    • Stay indoors as much as possible.  Make frequent checks on the elderly; be sure their homes are properly heated and safe.

    • If venturing outdoors, several layers of clothes will keep a person warmer than a single heavy coat.  Wear a hat; 20 percent of body heat loss is through the scalp.  Avoid over-exertion during outdoor activities to decrease the risk of heart attack.

  2. Pets

    • Keep pets indoors as much as possible. 

    • Make sure pets have warm, dry shelter, sufficient food, and plenty of fresh water.​

  3. ​Plants

    • Bring potted plants indoors; cover tender outdoor vegetation.

  4. Pipes

    • Cover or wrap any exposed pipes to insulate them; disconnect and drain hoses, and allow spigots to drip to prevent freezing and bursting.

  • If venturing outdoors, remember that several layers of clothes will keep you warmer than a single heavy coat.  A hat is also important, as 20 percent of body heat loss is through the scalp.  Avoid over-exertion during outdoor activities to decrease the risk of heart attack.

  • Be extra cautious driving in fog.  

    • Slow down and allow extra time to reach your destination.

    • Turn on low-beam headlights to make your vehicle visible both ahead and behind, turning on headlights means your taillights will also be on.  Use fog lights if you have them.

    • Never use high-beam headlights in foggy conditions. Using high-beam lights causes glare, making it more difficult to see.

    • Leave plenty of distance between you and the vehicle in front of you.

  • If the power goes out unexpectedly, use battery-powered flashlights or lanterns rather than candles; if they are used, never leave lit candles unattended.

  • To conserve heat indoors:  

    • Avoid opening doors or windows unnecessarily.

    • Close off unneeded rooms.

    • Stuff towels or rags in cracks under doors to stop drafts.

    • Close draperies or cover windows with blankets at night.

  • Generators can be helpful when the power goes out; use them safely to prevent carbon monoxide poisoning, electrical shock, and fire.​  Do not store gasoline indoors where the fumes could ignite.

National Weather Service graphic defining a Frost Advisory as temperatures of 33 to 36 degrees, clear skies, and light winds over a wide area which can damage outdoor plants
National Weather Service graphic defining a Freeze Warning as temperatures of less than 32 degrees, and Hard Freeze Warning as less than 28 degrees, for several hours over a wide area which can kill outdoor plants
Wind Chill Chart
National Weather Services graphic says Protect People, Pets, Pipes, and Plants from cold weather
Graphic advising space heater safety measures: keep anything that can burn more than 3 feet away from heat source, turn off when sleeping, never use any appliance with a damaged cord, only use space heaters on a flat surface on the floor, install carbon monoxide alarms
use fire extinguishers on small fires only
Winter Clothing
National Weather Service graphic illustrating adding layers to dress well for cold weather
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