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Well, folks, it looks like Mother Nature is about to try and punish us, again, this coming week. Someone apparently did something to upset her (Probably Chad...) and now we all have to pay for it.

Updated: Jan 20

As we tend to forget what real winter looks like down here, it’s always a good move to be prepared. Please read through, share and get prepared.

Temperatures in Tennessee region are expected to plummet next week as a cold front moves through the area. The coldest air of the winter is anticipated then, with some potential for the first snow of the season. The current forecast for next Tuesday is a high of 22 and a low of 7.

Main things to think about:

Protect Your People: I won’t bother telling you to dress warmly. If you’ve survived this long, you’ve probably learned that skill. What long-term residents have picked up is, if there’s nasty weather, DON’T GO OUT! If there’s a hint of snow on the roads, particularly in the Village, you’re not going anywhere. Best to just hunker down till it melts (Usually around noon...) Even if there’s no snow, you could be looking at black ice or slick spots on the roads that you can’t see. We always have a number of vehicles sliding into ditches during such weather. Don’t be one of them.

  1. Pay careful attention to yourselves and your neighbors, especially the elderly. Check on those who may not have anyone else in the area watching out for them. We’re all in this together. (Except for Chad... He knows what he did...)

  2. NEVER use a 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. If you use a space heater, keep it away from drapes and furnishings. If using a portable generator, keep it away from the house. If warming up your car in the garage,keep the garage door open.

  3. Know where you will go if your home becomes too cold. You could possibly go to a friend’s house. (If you have a neighbor with a generator, ply them with baked goods and compliments on their decorating tastes, handsome grandchildren or whatever.) If you're stuck at home with power out and in danger, call 911.

  4. Gather food, water, and medicine before a winter storm. Stores might be closed, and it may be unsafe to travel. You’ll want to have enough of your meds on hand, plenty of drinking water should the taps fail on you and plenty of food. (Canned goods are a nice hedge against power failures.) Don’t forget snacky things as it can get boring when confined to your home for days. (You can easily put on 10 pounds which will help keep you warm! That’s the excuse I make every winter. Feel free to use it...)

  5. Be sure to have a full tank of gas and watch your tire pressures. They can drop precipitously with the cold. If you insist on going out (You mad rebel, you...) make sure you have jumper cables and a blanket in the car should you get stuck somewhere and need to wait for help.

  6. Make sure your smoke and carbon monoxide detectors are working and have fresh batteries. People end up using their fireplaces and cranking up the heat. You want to know, right away, if things turn dangerous.

  7. Have flashlights and extra batteries ready and where you can find them if power goes out. Don’t go stumbling about in the dark. That seldom ends well.

  8. Keep your cell phone fully charged. (A backup USB power pack is a smart, inexpensive device to have around and can add days to your phone’s power.)

  9. Have a snow shovel and ice-melting products to keep your walkways safe.

  10. Make sure your basement and crawl space access is secured. Last year, several families were surprised to discover Mariachi Bands hibernating there. Had it not been for the distant sound of castanets, they’d have been none the wiser. (I’ve added this just to see how many of you read this far. If you did, pat yourself on the back and comment or reply-all “Ole!!!” This will give me a count and also confuse everyone else.)

Pets: Keep pets safe indoors. Never leave your pet 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. Make sure you have plenty of pet food on hand. If you’re walking them, watch out for salted areas and clean their paws of salt or dirt afterwards. Try to avoid pavement as that’s the coldest area and can damage their skin quickly.

Pipes: Be aware of your outside hose connections, especially if yours is a new house or this is your first year in it. Not all homes have frost-proof sillcocks. If they are not frost proof, be sure to place those foam covers on them and, if so equipped, shut them off from the inside. A split pipe inside your wall will make you VERY unhappy. (If you don’t have frost proof sillcocks, think about replacing them when the weather allows. They’re not expensive and will let you breath easier.) 

How do you know if you have frost free or regular outdoor sillcocks?

Maddeningly, they all look pretty much alike from the outside. Don’t count on those plastic cap vacuum breakers to tell you anything.

Best way to tell is to pen the spigot wide and then shut it off quickly. If the water stops immediately, it’s a plain spigot and needs to be protected from freezing. If it takes a second or two (or three…) that means that the closure is way back from the knob and you are the proud (and prudent) owner of a frost free sillcock.

Disconnect garden hoses so they don’t split or back ice up at the faucet. If you’re new to your home and haven’t figured out any weak spots, think about opening the cabinets under exterior wall facing kitchen and bathroom sinks to allow air from your home's heater to warm the pipes under the sink. Allow faucets to drip to avoid freezing and know where your main water shut-off valve is in case of emergencies.

Plants: Those of us who went through last winter’s cold snap lost a lot of bushes, small trees and plants. Cover tender plants overnight with an inverted bucket or flowerpot, or with a layer of mulch; larger plants can be covered with fabric, old bed sheets, burlap, or commercial frost cloths (avoid using plastic). Bring sensitive potted plants inside. 

Here is a good site from the Red Cross with more info.

Remember to be prepared and be safe. Spring is just around the corner. (With a big hatch of 17 year locusts planned. Wheeee!!!)

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