TIPS: Staying safe, saving money during freezing temps - Tucson News Now

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TIPS: Staying safe, saving money during freezing temps

(Source: Tucson News Now) (Source: Tucson News Now)
TUCSON, AZ (Tucson News Now) -

Freezing temperatures will hit southern Arizona between Thursday night and Friday morning.

Areas outside of Tucson could see temperatures in the 20s while it should be in the 30s in the Old Pueblo.

Below are some tips for staying safe, warm and happy whenever the temps drop.

Protecting the four P's

PEOPLE

  • Avoid leaving heaters unattended, especially when leaving home
  • Keep clothing, other fabrics and combustibles away from heaters
  • Don't use extension cords with space heaters
  • Limit time outdoors for young children and older people

PETS

  • If it's too cold for a person to be outside, it's too cold for a pet.
  • Provide shelter and warm bedding for pets or bring them indoors
  • Smaller dogs are less tolerant of the cold than larger dogs
  • If it is difficult to keep cats inside your home, at least provide a small shelter where they can stay

PLANTS

  • Cover plants, preferably before sunset, or bring them inside
  • Water potted plants as wet soil holds more heat
  • Plants with fleshy petals retain more water, making them more susceptible to freezing. You can help protect them and smaller plants by draping a plastic sheet, blanket or burlap over them 
  • Annuals like begonias and impatiens can have problems at 55 degrees. Cover them with pine straw, bark, leaves or another type of mulch.

PIPES

  • Cover and insulate exterior pipes and faucets to keep them from freezing and bursting.
  • Wrap the pipes with foam, or if that isn't available, try wrapping them with towels as possible plan ‘B'.  This includes any pipes outside, like regulators or tanks. 
  • If a pipe breaks on the homeowner's side of the meter, the side closest to the house, it the homeowner's responsibility. If it breaks on the opposite side, closest to the meter, then it is the city's or county's responsibility. 

How cold is too cold for your pet?

Once we get into the 40 degree range and below, it's time to start thinking about cold weather safety, according to animal experts.

Obviously dogs breeds with thick, dark coats can handle colder temperatures better than toy breeds with very short hair.

But even a dog with lots of hair can get frost bite and hypothermia according to the American Veterinary Medical Association.

The best thing to do is observe your dog. If you see him or her shivering or trying to run back inside quickly, then it might be too cold for them.

Not everyone has an inside dog, but animal experts say you should provide a shelter for outside dogs in the winter.

It's important to protect against wind and snow which can be deadly in northern Arizona.

A shed, dog house or even a stay in the garage can be very helpful and in some cases, lifesaving for your furry friend.

A coat may be a good option for some dogs, but make sure it is loose fitting and doesn't obstruct the dog's movement.

Prepping for freezing temperatures

Residents should check their air conditioner and make sure it's properly shut down for winter. 

Do this by disconnecting the water line and draining it out. 

If this isn't done, the line could bust and cause water damage to the home. 

Residents should also be sure to seal off their home. 

One of the biggest places where heat escapes is windows and doors. 

Experts say residents should change the filter in their furnace every month. 

It will help things run better and more efficiently. 

A leak in a furnace could be deadly.

More than 20,000 people get sick every year from accidental carbon monoxide poisoning.

It's also important to not get creative. Fire crews say they respond to carbon monoxide calls every year because people bring their grills inside or open their ovens for heat. 

Ways to save cash

When setting the thermostat, only set it to the lowest that is comfortable. 

The recommended temperature for most homes is 68 degrees. 

Residents should dial it back 10-15 degrees while sleeping or at work. That can save up to 15 percent on an annual heating bill.

Keep shades and curtains open during the day to allow sunlight to heat the home naturally.

Space heaters can be great for small rooms, but keep in mind they are not efficient for heating an entire home. 

High Winds

High winds usual show up right before freezing temperatures, at least here in southern Arizona.

Due to dry conditions here, high winds can cause fires to spread out of control quickly.

With the high winds comes the threat of blowing dust , which usually affects travel on Interstate 10 between Phoenix and Tucson and Lordsburg, New Mexico and San Simon, Arizona.

ADOT offers the following tips for what to do if you encounter a dust storm.

  • Check the traffic around your vehicle and begin slowing down
  • Pull off the road as quickly as possible. If possible, completely exit the interstate or highway. Do not wait until poor visibility makes it difficult to do it safely.
  • Do not stop in a travel or emergency lane. Look for a safe place to pull completely off the paved portion of the roadway
  • Turn off all vehicle lights, including your emergency flashers. They will prevent vehicles approaching from behind from using your lights as a guide, possibly crashing into your parked vehicle.
  • Set your emergency brake and take your foot off the brake.
  • Stay in the vehicle with your seatbelt buckled and wait for the storm to pass

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