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Tips for protecting your loved ones, including your pets, during winter freeze

Cold weather is on the way to Southeast Texas.

HOUSTON — Don't be caught off guard by the cold weather and be prepared. Here's some tips:

People

The most important thing is to protect yourself with any means necessary. 

On the coldest days, make sure to bundle up in multiple layers. Make sure to have a heavy winter coat when the temperature dramatically drops. Also, protect your head with a winter hat. Warm air escapes your body from your head, so the head is the most important part of your body to protect. As all skin is important to keep warm, make sure to bundle up with gloves on your hands and also, a scarf on the most bitter days.

In your home, make sure to heat your home to a comfortable temperature. As heat rises, the upstairs may be warmer than the downstairs part of your home.

Be careful with space heaters

Space heaters tend to be one of the most common fire starters. Ramon says they should always be used in an open area, away from curtains, bedding, toys, clothes and furniture. It’s also important to keep them on the ground, away from plush carpeting.

Space heaters should always be plugged directly into the wall and not an extension cord.

Central heating is another fire source. Although it’s normal to smell a slight burning smell the first time a system is turned on, it should only last a short time and then run normally. The smell is often dust that has collected in the system.

Heat-related fires often start at night as people turn on their heaters then head to bed, which you should give all heaters a test run during the day. If there’s a problem, you’re alert and watching and able to safely escape.

RELATED: Protect your home from fires in cold weather

Pets

On the coldest days, make sure to not forget about your four-legged friends.

Dr. John Russell from North Concho Veterinary Clinic said hypothermia is the main threat to pets from the cold. 

Make sure to bring pets inside where it is warm. It's especially important in Houston, where many people have short-haired dogs that comfortable in the warmer weather. However, long-haired dogs acclimated to the warmer weather can feel the chill too, so bring them in as well. 

If they must remain outside, make sure they have places to stay warm, or make sure they have booties to protect their paws from developing frostbite. If paws become discolored, make sure to contact your veterinarian immediately. 

It is also important to make sure they have plenty of access to fresh drinking water in case the water freezes over.

Plants

Another thing to protect in times of cold are your plants. According to Tommy Olive from Olive’s Nursery, you want to bring in any plants that will die if exposed to under freezing conditions. You can also put a blanket over these plants or put Christmas lights in a pot to give out heat. If this is done, plants can be protected. Another tip is to bring them inside during the coldest nights.

If you remember the four Ps on the coldest of winter days, you will be on your way towards another hot Texas summer within no time!

Pipes

When the temperature drops below 32 degrees, pipes can freeze and burst. 

Make sure to protect your outside pipes with a cover.

Consider covering pipes with insolation or use a heat lamp to prevent them from freezing. Anything that is not more than 12 inches below ground is likely to freeze. It is also helpful to disconnect hoses and disconnect any sprinkler or drip lines you might have.