By Will Johnson

Messenger Reporter

EAST TEXAS – Well, the weather outside is about to get frightful. The National Weather Service is predicting temperatures to drop below the freezing mark with a low of 28 degrees by Saturday night.

The high on Sunday is not expected to get above freezing and a low of 24 degrees is expected. Monday will see the weather warm up somewhat as the high is expected to break the 40 degree mark.

Houston County Fire Marshal Roger Dickey expressed his concern over safety and stressed the need to be aware of various items during the winter months.

“Make sure you have at least 36 inches of clearance around any type of heat producing source. If you have elderly family members or neighbors, check on them and make sure they are staying warm. Check your propane levels and make sure you check that. Stay in touch with friends and family and make sure they’re doing ok,” he said.

Pets are also susceptible to the cold and should be brought inside during extreme conditions such as the low temperatures expected this weekend. Make sure they have shelter from the elements and blanket they can snuggle into for warmth. Food and water levels also need to be monitored. If your pets are outside frequently in the winter months, they will need more calories to produce body heat, so increase the amount they are fed.

Make no mistake, this is East Texas and the weather is subject to change on a daily, sometimes hourly basis. As we get begin the winter months, however, it is best to be prepared for chilly conditions.

Keeping your home relatively warm is an important part of winter. A person can stay warm and help cut down on winter heating bills by weatherizing his/or her home.

Stop by your local hard
ware store and pick up some caulk and weather stripping for doors and windows.  Homeowners are also encouraged to check the insulation in the attic or below the floor of a mobile home. Make sure it is evenly distributed not discolored or has become wet. This will not only help in the winter months but it will also help to keep the home cool in the summertime.

Wrap your exposed pipes. This can help keep the pipes from bursting in extreme cold. They can be insulated using split pipe insulation or heat tape.  Wrapping layers of newspaper taped in place can also provide a certain level of protection. Cover or wrap your outside faucets and if the temperature falls below freezing, allow them to drip. On the inside of the house, open cabinet doors which hide pipes so warm air can circulate around the piping.

In an effort to keep warm, safety is often overlooked. If you have a fireplace, make sure to have the   chimney checked and cleaned if needed. Many people forget about this after the last fire of the previous year. Soot build-up, birds or other animal nests in the chimney can cause a fire that destroys a home. Also, never leave space heaters, fireplaces or wood burning stoves unattended.

A person’s car is another area which needs to be winterized. Make sure the antifreeze is at the proper level and changed if needed. In addition, make sure the other fluid levels in the vehicle are where they should be. Service the brakes, check the tire pressure and make sure the battery is in good shape

Will Johnson may be contacted via e-mail at wjohnson@messenger-news.com.