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FPREN shares safety tips for winter weather

National Weather Service

While Florida is known for its generally mild winters compared to many other parts of the country, winter weather, including sub-freezing temperatures, freezing rain, and even snow, are possible over parts of the state. It is Important to be aware of and prepared for potential winter weather hazards. Below, find information about winter weather hazards and how you can stay safe.

Heating your home safely

If you plan to use a wood stove, fireplace or space heater, be sure read the instructions and use it appropriately. The appliance should be adjusted properly and follow local building codes for use.

Improper use of heating appliances can produce a dangerous levels of carbon monoxide. All heated appliances should be vented to the outside.

The Florida Department of Health advises against using a gas stove or oven to heat the home and encourages users to have appliances be inspected and services annually by a licensed contractor. Battery-operated carbon monoxide alarms are also available and can detect when levels become dangerous.

Frost and Freeze Warnings

Frost and freeze warnings are issued when frost or freezing/sub-freezing temperatures are forecasted for your area. Some plants are sensitive to extreme temperatures and may need to be taken indoors or covered. Experts suggest watering plants before freezing temperatures arrive. This can insulate the roots and prevent the cold from killing vegetation.

Pipes can freeze and burst when the temperature dips below freezing. Insulating exposed pipes and sealing off air leaks around electrical wiring can help keep the cold out.

Protecting people and pets

Bring outdoor pets inside or provide a warm shelter for them to stay. Dress properly for the weather. This may include layering with hats, gloves and coats. Gusty conditions can cause “feels like” temperatures (wind chills) to be even colder than the actual temperature. Under windy conditions, and frost bite or hypothermia develop faster than when the wind is calm.

National Weather Service

Although extremely cold temperatures or wind chills are rare in Florida, it is important to check conditions and layer clothes appropriately before spending prolonged periods of time outside.

In case of an emergency, create an emergency supply kit for your home and car. A hurricane preparedness kit can be refreshed for the winter with warm blankets and hand warmers. Make sure medications and important documents are up to date. To maintain your kit, store it in a cool, dry place.

For more weather information and forecasts, follow Florida Public Emergency Network to stay weather-aware this winter.