Protecting people, pets and pipes during freezing weather

by Brandon Richards bio | email

LAKE CHARLES, LA (KPLC) - Meteorologists say Southwest Louisiana is in store for a hard winter freeze starting late Monday night.

A sudden drop in the temperature, especially when it falls below freezing, catches many people off guard...and can prove to be expensive in the end. Therefore, it's easy to overlook the steps you need to take to protect everything from your family and pets to your plants and pipes.

According to the Lake Charles Fire Department, there are many fires this time of year. Unfortunately, not every household has the proper equipment they need to heat their home. That's why many people turn to dangerous alternatives to heat their homes.

"Things like the oven and the stove and fireplaces, but we must remember those items are really not designed to keep the homes warm," said Lake Charles Fire Chief T.A. Jones.

Jones also says it's a good idea to check on the elderly to make sure they have everything they need to stay warm, especially if they live alone.

"You should have a buddy system with someone who's an elderly [person]. Check on them. If you want to, pick them up. Bring them home with you," said Jones.

Pets are another group that's often overlooked when cold weather hits. Pet experts advise owners to bring their pets indoors. If owners decide not to bring their pets indoors, they should at least make sure their pets have some type of outdoor shelter, something that will keep the animal warm.

It's also recommended that you bring your potted plants inside too. Again, if you decide against that, experts say you should cover outdoor plants with a breathable cloth, rather than plastic. Plastic does more harm than good because it ends up suffocating the plants, according to experts.

Finally there are steps one can take to avoid the agony that comes with frozen pipes.

Ricky Campbell with Pelican Plumbing and Piping says you should make sure any exposed pipes are properly covered so they don't freeze. Campbell says homeowners can do this themselves, relatively cheaply.

"You can leave one or two faucets inside and outside your house dripping to keep water flowing through the pipes so that the water is not dripping," said Campbell.

Experts also say it's a good idea to unplug any unnecessary appliances. This not only reduces the risk of fires, it also helps cut costs.

Copyright 2010 KPLC-TV. All Rights Reserved.