Combating the cold

Published 2:05 am Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Blistering wind whipped across Covington County Tuesday, leading many residents to pull out their winter coats and spend increased time indoors.

According to the National Weather Service in Mobile, wind speeds averaged between 10 to 15 miles per hour Tuesday with gusts up to 20 miles per hour with a wind chill of 46 degrees. The overnight low was expected to dip well below freezing, but temperatures may be surprisingly warm as the week progresses.

Jeremie Schaffer, assistant director of Covington County Emergency Management Agency, said weather reports indicate more cold nights but daytime highs should increase in the coming days.

“Tuesday night will probably be the coldest night of the week,” she said. “We could still have a couple of days of temperatures around the 70-degree mark, but people need to begin making cold weather preparations now.”

According to the NWS, nighttime lows will increase slightly tonight with a low around 31 degrees tonight and 35 degrees Thursday night, but will dip down below freezing again Friday night with an approximate low of 26 degrees.

“Nights will slowly become colder and colder,” Schaffer said. “Residents should really remember people, plants, pets and pipes when preparing for cold weather.

“Check on your neighbors during the winter months,” she added. “If you have elderly neighbors or people who cannot leave their home, then check to make sure they are well suited for the cold weather.

Jeff Hopkins, owner of Quality Tire and Auto Service in Andalusia, said residents should always ensure their vehicles are properly prepared for the winter months.

“Antifreeze serves as both a coolant in the summer months and a chemical to prevent the freezing of fluids in your vehicle’s radiator during the winter months,” he said. “The glycogen in the antifreeze can break down over time and its freeze point can actually drop. If you do not properly maintain the antifreeze in your radiator, then it could lead to engine damage later down the road.”

Hopkins said a 50/50 mix of antifreeze and water is essential to ensure the proper pH of the fluid in a vehicle’s radiator. Vehicles whose radiators contain older antifreeze should be drained and replaced every two years to ensure proper pH.

The American Red Cross also suggests the following safety tips when attempting to alleviate the late night chill inside a home:

Make sure space heaters are in proper working order. If citizens utilize gas space heaters, make sure that all gas lines are working properly, and that furniture and other objects are far enough away to help prevent ignition.

Electric space heaters should never be left unattended or running throughout the night. Likewise, gas space heaters should never be left unattended and one should not go to sleep with any space heater on.

Do not try to heat the home with your stove or oven. This poses a very serious fire hazard, and a possible carbon monoxide hazard.