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Prep now for falling temps next week

Authorities urge residents to prepare for freezing temperatures next week for people, pets and plants.

While high temperatures Sunday will be hovering at 70, the thermometer will take a sharp drop below freezing by Tuesday night.

It’s expected to be a high of 43 Tuesday with temperatures dropping to a low around 25 degrees that night.

Wednesday will be similar with a high of just 49 and a low of 37.

Meteorologist Janae Elkins with the National Weather Service in Jackson said a strong cold front is binging in an arctic air mass Monday that will threaten vegetation and create a hazard for outside pets.

“That will be sticking around a couple of days,” she said.

Now’s the time to check heating equipment to make sure it’s safe to use.

There have been 52 fire deaths in Mississippi so far this year, according to State Fire Marshal Mike Chaney. Fifteen of those deaths were caused by placing flammable material too close to space heaters, plugging heaters into malfunctioning extension cords or using equipment as a heat source when it was not designed for that purpose.

“We are going to see cold days and nights in the near future and some people may be getting out their space heaters for the first time this year,” Chaney said. “National reports show the leading factor in home heating fire deaths was heating equipment too close to things that can burn, such as upholstered furniture, clothing, mattresses, or bedding. “

The State Fire Marshal’s Office recommends the following heating fire safety tips:

• All heating equipment should be UL approved and cleaned and inspected by a qualified professional prior to being used each year.

• Remember to keep clothes, drapes, and anything else combustible at least 3 feet away from all heating equipment, especially space heaters.

• Inspect the space heater’s power cord for damage, fraying or heat. If the cord inspection reveals any of these issues, the heater should be replaced. Proper cleaning is essential and should be done regularly.

• Never use space heaters while you sleep or in areas where children may be without adult supervision.

• Do not leave space heaters on when you are away from home.

• Always unplug space heaters when they are not in use. The heater should also be equipped with a tip over shut-off switch.

• Never use a stove or oven to heat living spaces. Kerosene is a poor choice for heating as it will give off poisonous fumes.

• Have chimney flues cleaned and inspected by qualified personnel.

• Have a spark screen that is age appropriate for all individuals if using a fireplace.

• Burn only approved materials in a fireplace or wood-burning stove; never burn paper or trash in a fireplace or wood burning stove.

• Should a fire break out in the home, have an emergency evacuation plan for the family to follow and have a designated meeting place for all family members. Once everyone is outside the burning home, call 911 and don’t go back inside the home under any circumstances.

Pets

Brookhaven animal control officer Roxanne Norton urged pet owners to make sure pets outside have a warm place to escape the elements.

“People do need to make sure their dogs have real good shelter with shavings or hay in it for warmth and I like for people to throw a blanket on top of the dog house to cover the doorway from the wind blowing in,” she said. “Or simply bring the dogs inside. That’s my favorite.”

Beth Adcock at Brookhaven Animal Rescue League said the no-kill shelter could use donations of blankets, hay or pine straw and cedar shavings before Tuesday night. Located at 501 North Park Lane Drive, the facility is open today from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., and Sunday and Tuesday from noon to 4 p.m. It’s closed Monday for Veterans Day.

Plants

Certain plants need extra protection from the elements when temperatures drop below freezing, said County agent Rebecca Bates with the Lincoln County Extension Service.

“Any tropical plants, house plants that you’ve got in pots on your porches, ferns and hibiscus. Those types things must come in doors,” she said.

She was home Friday afternoon pulling in her plants for at least the next week. The lettuce, turnips, mustard and kale in her garden are engineered for cold weather so she’s not worried about them. Her basil plant, however, won’t likely make it.

Landscaping suitable for winter months will do well.

“Any of your summer annuals, this will take them on out. But in my yard I already have planted pansies and snapdragons. They love it. They’re going to be fine,” she said.