When cold arrives, be prepared

By Errol Castens/NEMS Daily Journal

Another blast of cold air is headed toward Northeast Mississippi today, with temperatures headed toward the teens.
Even without snow or ice, serious cold poses its own threats to people, plants, cars, pets and pipes. If working or exercising outside, many sources recommend layering clothing so some can be removed to avoid sweating, which could then lead to chilling. Tender plants that have survived thus far should be brought inside.
Outdoor pets require special care.
“If it gets down below freezing, you need to make sure they have dry, wind-free housing,” said Dr. Stephen King, a veterinarian with Tupelo Small Animal Hospital. “Give them ample food as a source of energy, and make doubly sure their water source doesn’t freeze.”
King noted that grooming can be important in cold weather.
“If a dog’s hair gets matted, its insulation value goes way down,” he said. “Dogs that have long hair need to be kept clean and brushed out to keep their hair fluffed out so they stay warm.”
Cold weather puts extra strain on car batteries, and many auto parts stores will test them for free to make sure they’re strong enough to make it through the winter. Car fluids need to be checked, too. Brett Hoskins, manager of Xpress Lube on Cliff Gookin Boulevard in Tupelo, said that cooling systems are critical in cold weather.
“People especially need to make sure they’ve got the proper coolant in their vehicle,” he said.
Randy Hanlon of RH Plumbing in Okolona says frozen pipes, which can burst unexpectedly, can usually be prevented.
“Leave a little water running, and make sure all the (crawl-space) vent holes are covered up,” he said. “If you have uninsulated pipes, get them insulated.”
Hanlon warns homeowners to disconnect hoses from hose bibs.
“If the hose freezes, that ice will run right back into the wall,” he said.