Freezing forecasts prompts Pine Belt residents to winterize their homes

HATTIESBURG, MS (WDAM) - With freezing temperatures in the forecast, it's time for Pine Belt residents to winterize their homes.

According to the calendar, winter hasn't officially begun. But with sub-freezing conditions in this week's forecast, there are a few safety tips to keep in mind to protect your home, your plants, and your pets.

Space heaters are an effective way to keep warm. But there's also responsible for 25 thousand house fires and over 300 deaths each year in the United States. "You want to make sure when you're buying a space heater that you're buying something that's a UL rated appliance," advised Geneva Morgan of the Hattiesburg Fire Department. "Look for a circle with the UL on the back of the box."

Once you put it in your home, make sure to keep the heater away from anything combustible by at least three feet. Most extension cords are not rated for such appliances and should not be used to avoid fires. Also, turn off space heaters when you leave the room and especially when you leave your house.

It is also important to have fire extinguishers on hand as well as functioning fire alarms and carbon monoxide detectors.

"The main thing, as far as our department goes, is to take care of your pipes," explained Lee Bronock, a Lowe's Plumbing Pro. Besides insulating pipes, it's a wise idea to winterize faucets for garden hoses outside your home.

"Weather strip around your doors and windows," said Bronock. "That's usually something fairly simple that anyone can do and it will cut down on your heating bill quite a bit."

Don't forget your plants and furry friends during the chilly conditions! Bring plants and pets inside if possible. "If it's cold enough that you're uncomfortable, your animals are probably uncomfortable too," said Christine Hampton of the Southern Pines Animal Shelter. For outdoor pets, make sure that they have plenty of food and water, a sturdy, size-appropriate shelter, and a thick blanket or bedding.

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