Weathering the cold: Be sure to protect these 4 things

HOUSTON (KTRK) -- A Freeze Warning is in effect for Houston and much of our area from midnight tonight until 9am Friday. A light freeze is expected by early Friday morning, especially for areas north of Houston. That means temperatures a few degrees below freezing, especially for our northern communities.

Remember to protect the four 'P's: people, pets, pipes, and plants anytime cold weather moves into our area.

- Dress in warm, layered clothing, including gloves, a coat, and a hat when you are outside.
- Never leave children or the elderly in vehicles during cold weather, as they can act as refrigerators and expose anyone inside to sub-freezing temperatures.
- Never use a generator, grill, camp-stove, or any gasoline, propane, natural gas or charcoal-burning device to heat your home (or any enclosed area). These devices can generate carbon monoxide, which can't be seen or smelled, but is deadly.

- Protect your pets by ensuring that they have a warm, safe place to sleep. The best place for a pet to sleep is in a heated environment.

- Do not shave your dog down to the skin in winter, as a longer coat will provide more warmth.
- Never leave your animal in a car during cold weather. Cars can act as refrigerators in the winter, holding in the cold and causing animals to freeze to death.

For more cold-weather tips for pets, visit the ASPCA.

- While generally, pipes don't freeze until temperatures hit the mid 20s, it's important to make sure you're prepared and have proper insulation ready to go.
- During cold weather, pipes may freeze and rupture, causing water leaks and damage to your home. Protect your home by opening the cabinets under kitchen and bathroom sinks to allow air from your home's heater to warm the pipes under the sink. Let faucets drip - as moving water freezes more slowly than still water.
- Insulate outdoor faucets and pipes with insulation or newspaper, and be sure to disconnect and drain hoses from outdoor spigots.
- Protect plants from freezing by covering them with plant-cover fabric, or a light blanket with plastic sheeting on top of it.
- Be sure to group potted plants together, and near the edge of a building. Remember that soil in containers can get just as cold as the air temperature, and cause the roots to freeze, even if the above-surface leaves survive.
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