It's getting cold outside, here are some tips to prepare

Published on Thursday, 7 December 2017 17:44 - Written by FAITH HARPER, fharper@tylerpaper.com

It was cold enough to snow on Thursday.

And it did - briefly.

Small flurries floated in the air Thursday afternoon for an hour or so, but none of it stuck.

KYTX CBS19 meteorologist Alberto Romero said Thursday night was expected to be the coldest of the season so far, with a low of 26 degrees. A freeze warning was in effect for the area until 9 a.m. Friday.

The frigid weather will be short-lived though. The sun will come back out on Friday, and the high will be 48 degrees.

According to the National Weather Service in Shreveport, the last time it dipped below freezing in Tyler was Oct. 29 and the last time the city saw any snow-like activities was in 2015. There was a trace amount in February of that year, and a half of an inch reported in March.

Friday into Saturday, folks can expect lows around 33 and highs of 58 degrees.

It’s been a while since East Texans have had to think about winter weather, so here are some tips as we enter the cold season:

PLANTS

Homeowners should take precautions with sensitive plants with temperatures dipping below freezing. Potted plants should be taken inside the home, garage or greenhouse, according to Texas A&M AgriLife.

Covering sensitive outdoor plants is an easy way to protect them by trapping warmer air, if done correctly. Lightweight fabrics are preferred. Plastic can also be used but the material should be draped over plants because contact with foliage or blooms could result in freeze burn.

Mulch also helps insulate a plant's root system, and proper watering also helps plants in cold conditions.

PETS

Outdoor animals should have shelter that protects them from the elements - wind and water - and that has bedding, from blankets to straw that allows them to nestle in and keep their body temperatures up. Sheltering them from sub-freezing chill factors is key, according to the East Texas SPCA.

Owners should also make sure any animals on chains or ropes are able to access the shelter. Remove kinks or obstacles the animal might wrap around that could prevent it from going inside.

Though outdoor cats are typically more independent, pet owners should provide a location they will go to get out of the cold.

Food and water are also very important in cold weather. Food helps the animal keep its core temperature up and staying hydrated is important especially in the cold.

Animals build up winter coats but that it takes time. Some dogs’ and cats’ furs haven’t built up yet because temperatures have been mild.

PLUMBING

The basics - insulating pipes and letting faucets drip - handle most freezing situations.

A few hours of freezing temperatures shouldn’t threaten plumbing unless they are exposed to high winds. But wind is the killer.

Homeowners can cover outside faucets with towels or inexpensive foam covers. Sub-floor pipes in older wood frame houses, pier-and-beam homes and mobile homes should be insulated, but that doesn’t guarantee against breaks if temperatures stay consistently freezing for several days.

VEHICLES

Friday’s temperatures won’t likely cause problems for drivers, but now is the time to winterize.

Making sure coolant/antifreeze levels in radiators are good is most important, and antifreeze that can protect against minus 10 degrees is recommended.

Don’t check antifreeze levels until the engine has cooled, to avoid hot liquid burns.

Also check belts and hoses for cracks. Check the heater and defroster to make sure both are in good working order.

Tire treads should be checked for later when roads might become icy.

Many drivers might not think about replacing summertime windshield washing solution with a solution that won’t freeze.

Twitter: @TMTFaith