Protecting Yourself and Loved Ones During a Cold Snap

January 27, 2022

A cold front with the potential of bringing wind chills in the upper 20's will move through South Florida this coming weekend.  Most cold weather risk factors are the result of the measures that we take to keep ourselves warm and not the direct result of exposure to cold temperatures. This is especially true here in South Florida, where the temperature stays mostly mild throughout the winter.

Since we rarely have to worry about freezing temperatures, here at home, we can be vulnerable to the effects of cold weather.  That's why it is important to remember the four "P's" to help protect yourself and those in your care.

  • Protect People: This includes yourself, but pay careful attention to children and seniors. They are especially vulnerable to cold and the least able to protect themselves. Dress in layers of loose-fitting warm clothing. This will allow you to shed to the appropriate layer once the day begins to heat up. When outdoors, wear a hat that covers your ears. You lose as much as 40 percent of body heat through your head.
  • Protect Plants: Bring potted plants indoors. Keep outdoor plants and trees watered. Remember that dry weather and wind create the perfect conditions for brush fires. If you live near heavily forested or undeveloped land, keep your property well-manicured and free of dry or dead vegetation.
  • Protect Pets: Bring all pets indoors. Pets that must be left outside should have an enclosed shelter with the entrance facing away from the wind.
  • Protect against fires in the home: This one of the most important winter considerations. Take the time to prepare and inspect heating equipment before using. According to the National Fire Protection Association, incorrect use of heating equipment is the leading cause of home fires.


Most home fires in the winter are associated with portable heating equipment which is poorly installed, poorly maintained or misused. Use central heating whenever possible, but if you must use a portable space heater, here are some safety guidelines:

  • Choose electric space heaters and use only those that are UL approved. Look for models that include safety features such as an automatic shut-off when tipped over.
  • Avoid the use of extension cords with space heaters, but if you must use one, make sure it is the proper size and length to avoid causing a trip hazard that can cause a space heater to tip over. Never run cords under rugs or carpets.
  • Keep your heater at least three feet away from furniture, curtains and other flammable items.
  • Make sure your recommended smoke and carbon monoxide detectors are working properly and replace batteries regularly.
  • Never use charcoal or other fuel-burning devices indoors, such as grills that produce carbon monoxide.
  • Make sure all equipment is clean and dust free.
  • Never use your oven to heat your home.
  • Keep a close eye on children and pets whenever a space heater is being used.
  • Always turn off heaters when leaving home.