Florida Division of Emergency Management officials are urging residents and visitors throughout Florida to prepare for temperatures near or below the freezing mark tonight through Thursday morning. Temperatures could reach the lower 20s away from the coast across Northern Florida and near the freezing mark in pockets as far south as the Everglades. The National Weather Service has already issued Freeze Warnings for a large portion of Central and South Florida, with Hard Freeze Warnings in place for much of North Florida. Though Freeze Warnings are in effect for inland areas of South Florida, areas closer to the coast are under a Freeze Watch.
“Residents and visitors across the state should prepare for a long period of freezing temperatures each morning that could harm vegetation, pipes, animals and people,” said Division of Emergency Management Director David Halstead. “These cold temperatures may prompt the opening of shelters across the state and we encourage all Floridians to protect themselves and practice cold weather safety.”
A freeze warning means sub-freezing temperatures are imminent or highly likely for at least two hours. These conditions can kill crops and other sensitive vegetation. The elderly and the homeless are especially vulnerable to the cold so take measures to protect them. Exposed water pipes need to have adequate protection from the cold temperatures.
Combined low temperatures and wind chills will be low enough to meet shelter opening criteria in North, Central and South Florida beginning tonight and continuing through Wednesday night and Thursday morning.
Residents and visitors should remember the "Five P's" of cold weather safety. The “5 P’s” are: Protecting People, Protecting Plants, Protecting Pets, Protecting Exposed Pipes, and Practicing Fire Safety.
The following actions are important safety measures:
• Stay indoors and use safe heating sources.
• Be aware of the fire danger from space heaters and candles. Keep such devices away from all flammable materials such as curtains and furniture, and install recommended smoke and carbon monoxide detectors.
• Indoors: Do not use charcoal or other fuel-burning devices, such as grills that produce carbon monoxide. Install at least one carbon monoxide detector per floor in your home.
• Outdoors: Stay dry and in wind-protected areas.
• Wear multiple layers of loose-fitting, warm clothing.
• Drink non-alcoholic fluids.
• Shelter or bring inside animals, especially pets.
For more information on the Florida Division of Emergency Management and to GET A PLAN!, please visit: www.FloridaDisaster.org. Follow us on Twitter at www.Twitter.com/flsertinfo or join our blog at: http://flsertinfo.blogspot.com/.