How to stay safe during cold weather: Here's what officials recommend
Officials warn Fort Smith residents to stay safe during the inclement weather.
While temperatures are gradually beginning to rise, it's still important to stay indoors and go outside only for small increments, said Joe Sellers, a meteorologist with the Tulsa branch of the National Weather Service.
“In those conditions, you certainly want to limit any outdoor exposure," Sellers said.
When going outside, people need to be sure to wear appropriate clothing, a hat and gloves, according to the National Weather Service.
During cold weather, it's important to remember to keep the thermostat a few degrees lower than normal to help with the heat and gas emergency, said Kendall Beam, the Sebastian County Emergency Management director.
People can also turn their water heaters down to 120 degrees to help.
To stay warmer, Beam recommends making sure that the warm air circulates throughout the house. People should also open their curtains during the day to allow sunlight to warm the house. But people need to be sure they close their curtains at nightfall.
If people's power goes out and they have nowhere to go, Beam said they need to go to the innermost room of their home, cover doors and windows with blankets and be sure to bundle up. Layering clothes is essential to staying warm.
“That should keep them as warm as possible," Beam said.
Keep pets safe, too
During these temperatures, it's also important to remember to keep pets safe.
"Anything that you would do for yourself, you want to try to do for your pets," Sellers said.
Sellers warned that pets are as susceptible, if not more susceptible, to the cold as people are.
Sellers suggested that people bring their pets inside, and if they can't do that, at least ensure that their pets have a place that is covered and dry, where they are not directly exposed to the elements.
On the roads
People should avoid driving in the snow, Sellers said.
"Don’t drive if you don’t have to," Sellers said.
If people have to drive amid the snow, Sellers said that they should allow plenty of time to get to their destinations.
“Slow and steady usually wins the race," Sellers said.
Sellers also advised people to put plenty of distance between them and the cars in front of them.
Beam said that people need to slow down for curbs and stop signs while driving in the snow.
“You’ll go on past them if you’re not careful," Beam.
When traveling in the snow, people should be sure to keep an extra flashlight, food, and water in their vehicles in case of an emergency, according to the National Weather Service.
Carbon monoxide poisoning
To avoid carbon monoxide poisoning, Beam said that people should not use their generators inside their homes or run their cars inside their garages for warmth.
“Generators are great when they’re used properly, but they can be deadly when used wrong," Beam said.
People should also keep their generators away from windows and doors, where carbon monoxide could seep into their homes, Beam said.
In their homes, people should also wrap pipes with insulation and seal windows to avoid loss of heat. To keep pipes from freezing, they should keep a slow steady stream of water running from indoor faucets and open cabinet doors to allow warm air to
circulate around inside pipes, according to the National Weather Service.