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Protecting the 4 P's in freezing temperatures: People, Pets, Pipes and Plants

Experts provide guidance on keeping people, pets, pipes, and plants safe this winter.

FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. — Arkansas is getting hit hard by bitter cold temperatures that will be sticking around a little bit longer.

It’s a good time to remember the 4 P’s: people, pets, pipes and plants.

Experts are sharing some advice on how to keep the 4-P's safe in freezing temperatures. With arctic air expected to reach our region in the coming days, there are things you can do to prepare.

According to the Springdale Fire Department, people should avoid going outside if it’s not necessary. Also, make sure the heating equipment in your home has been inspected and is working efficiently.

“Where sometimes we get into a little bit of trouble is when we don’t have a good plan for an alternative means of heating our homes," said Captain Matt Bagley with the Springdale Fire Department.  

Firefighters say sometimes people use cooking equipment to heat their homes but those can release hazardous chemicals into the air. They say another dangerous culprit that causes fires during this time is space heaters.

“The right way to use a space heater is to make sure it’s new enough and in good repair," Bagley said. "Plug it directly into the wall. No surge protectors, no extension cords, and then the final thing is to keep it away from any combustible."

Our pets are also vulnerable during this time.

Staff with Fayetteville Animals Services say if your pet spends most of its time outdoors you want to make sure it has a covered shelter with fresh, dry straw, but they say the best thing you can do for your animal is bring them inside.

“A dog's body temperature and a cat for that matter are going to get so low and they can’t get it back up, they’ll die, just like we would die of exposure, any living creature can die of exposure," said Justine Lentz, Superintendent for Fayetteville Animal Services.

Shelter staff says pet owners should also feed their pets more often and make sure they have access to water that’s not frozen.

RELATED: NWA Angels on Ice drive local healthcare heroes to work during winter weather

Something else that needs protecting is pipes that are prone to freezing during the winter.

“Products like heat tape and hydrant covers are good for insulating and heating pipes to keep them from freezing," said Brian Newton, Master Plumber at Paschal Air, Plumbing, and Electric.  

Experts say allowing heat to circulate through the home by shutting your garage door is always a good thing, plus opening cabinets and doors so heat can get to the pipes.

They say if you haven’t done so already, make sure your hose is not attached to pipes outside, and letting faucets drip throughout the day will make a big difference.

“A slow trickle won’t hurt either. The more volume you get through it, the better it will be, the less likely it is to freeze," Newton said.

The final "P" is plants.

“If they’re outside you can bring them into the garage or inside, especially if you bring them in the garage you want to water them because the garage can still get a little bit cold," said Rhett Patton, Horticulturist with Garden IQ in Johnson.

While many people don’t have plants in the ground right now there are some exceptions and a shelter will help keep them insulated.

The Springdale Fire Department is also recommending households have a sufficient supply of food, goods such as toilet paper and prescription medications for at least the next seven days.

RELATED: Dangerous cold, winter storm risk this weekend into Monday

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