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Take steps now to prepare for upcoming cold snap

A forecast for cold weather is bad enough for many who live in Mississippi, but when misinformation and iffy forecasts call for a wintry mix, chaos usually ensues.

Such is the case with weather predictions for next week in central Mississippi. But, fear not, according to officials at the National Weather Service, predictions for a cold snap week are accurate, but prognostications of a wintry mix, not so much.

“At this time, we are not calling for any kind of wintry mix,” John Moore, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Jackson, said Friday morning. “Yes, it will be cold, but we are not seeing anything yet about a wintry mix.”

The National Weather Service is forecasting rain Monday afternoon and evening, after which temperatures in the Vicksburg area will head lower.

According to Moore, highs Tuesday in the Vicksburg area will “struggle” to get into the low 40s. After that, he said, temperatures will dive overnight into the low 20s.

“The last time the area was in the 20s on Nov. 13 was in 2013,” Moore said. He also said the historic low temperature for Nov. 13 in Vicksburg is 19 degrees, which was set in 1950.

As for whether those in the area should brace themselves for a much-colder than normal winter, Moore said it’s too early to tell. But, he said, the Climate Prediction Center’s one-month forecast calls for temperatures that have a “good chance” of being below normal, while the three-month forecast calls for warmer than normal temperatures.

With the cold weather, comes risk. Officials urge residents to prepare now for the below-freezing temperatures, making sure to properly prepare pipes, take care of pets and check on elderly friends and neighbors who might not be prepared for the low temperatures.

There is also an increased fire risk when temperatures plummet.

In a release from State Fire Marshal Mike Chaney’s office, residents are urged to check their heating equipment to make sure it’s safe to use.

“We are going to see cold days and nights in the near future and some people may be getting out their space heaters for the first time this year,” State Fire Marshal Mike Chaney said. “National reports show the leading factor in home heating fire deaths was heating equipment too close to things that can burn, such as upholstered furniture, clothing, mattresses, or bedding.”

According to Chaney’s office, there have been 52 fire deaths in Mississippi so far this year; 15 of those deaths were caused by placing flammable material too close to space heaters, plugging heaters into malfunctioning extension cords, or using equipment as a heat source when it was not designed for that purpose.

The following heating fire safety tips were shared by Chaney’s office:

4All heating equipment should be UL® approved and cleaned and inspected by a qualified professional prior to being used each year.

4Remember to keep clothes, drapes and anything else combustible at least 3 feet away from all heating equipment, especially space heaters.

4Inspect the space heater’s power cord for damage, fraying or heat. If the cord inspection reveals any of these issues, the heater should be replaced. Proper cleaning is essential and should be done regularly.

4Never use space heaters while you sleep or in areas where children might be without adult supervision.

4Do not leave space heaters on when you are away from home.

4Always unplug space heaters when they are not in use. The heater should also be equipped with a tip-over shut-off switch.

4Never use a stove or oven to heat living spaces. Kerosene is a poor choice for heating as it will give off poisonous fumes.

4Have chimney flues cleaned and inspected by qualified personnel.

4Have a spark screen that is age-appropriate for all individuals if using a fireplace.

4Burn only approved materials in a fireplace or wood-burning stove; never burn paper or trash in a fireplace or wood-burning stove.

4Should a fire break out in the home, have an emergency evacuation plan for the family to follow and have a designated meeting place for all family members. Once everyone is outside the burning home, call 911 and don’t go back inside under any circumstances.

About Tim Reeves

Tim Reeves, and his wife Stephanie, are the parents of three children, Sarah Cameron, Clayton and Fin, who all attend school in the Vicksburg Warren School District. The family are members of First Baptist Church Vicksburg. Tim is involved in a number of civic and volunteer organizations including the United Way of West Central Mississippi and serves on the City of Vicksburg's Riverfront Redevelopment Committee.

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