‘Avoid Prolonged Exposure’: How to stay safe in extreme winter weather this Christmas

Published 1:51 pm Thursday, December 22, 2022

The cold weather sets in Thursday night, with wind chills as low as -5 and -6 across the state of Mississippi.

In Vicksburg, snow flurries are possible late Thursday night with a low of 12 degrees. Christmas Eve will prove to be one of the coldest days of the year in terms of wind chill values.

The high on Friday is 26, but wind chills are forecast to be as low as -4. There will be a northwest wind of 15 to 20 mph, with gusts as high as 25 mph, according to the National Weather Service in Jackson.

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“The lowest will be (Thursday night) going into (Friday) morning,” said NWS Forecaster Kendall Parks. “Hypothermia could be possible, and we’re expecting damage to exposed pipes and water main breaks.”

As the colder weather moves in, Parks said winds in the area will be sustained at around 25 mph with gusts as high as 40 mph.

The cold weather also presents a great risk to plants, pets and people without adequate shelter. Warren County Emergency Management Coordinator John Elfer stated this week that, if one wants to ensure plants stay alive, they need to be brought inside during cold temperatures this week through Christmas.

In terms of people, Elfer said the key to avoiding hypothermia outside is layering.

“People need to dress in layers. Hats, gloves, adequate footwear, avoid prolonged exposure,” he said. “Some of these ponds may freeze, but we discourage people from walking on ice and to avoid frozen ponds and lakes.”

Waste Management also released a statement regarding those who might seek shelter in its receptacles.

 Waste containers should not be used as shelter from winter conditions, the sanitation company warned.

“Waste Management requests that the community please stay out of waste containers, for your safety, and for the safety of our drivers. We understand individuals may go to great lengths to seek cover from severe weather. However, if someone is inside a waste container when it is emptied, there is a significant risk of injury or death. By working with our customers and exercising additional vigilance, we hope to reduce this risk,” said Tony Franco, area safety manager.

Warren County does not have a designated warming shelter, but there are other shelters available to those in need.

The Mississippi Emergency Management Agency (MEMA) released information on Thursday about pets and what residents can do to keep their furry friends safe from the cold.

The first rule of thumb is to bring pets inside — or if they can’t come inside, to make a warm place for them outside, such as a dog house with a solid floor that’s raised off the ground and has three sides and a flap over the door. Pets also need fresh food and water that is not frozen.

If your pet is shivering, whining or stops moving, bring them inside immediately, as these are all signs of hypothermia.