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It will be warmer, but hard freeze still predicted for area

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By Angye Morrison

The National Weather Service in Tallahassee issued a hard freeze warning for a portion of South Georgia and North Florida this morning, predicting near-record lows of 18-21 degrees in Tallahassee and the surrounding areas.

But organizers of tonight's Jazz on the Square in Quincy saw the predictions and acted quickly, determining earlier this week that the event should be moved indoors. It will be held on the second floor of the Gadsden Arts Center, rather than on the Courthouse Square. Admission is still free, and the event is from 7 to 9 p.m.

But meteorologists are now saying the temperatures will be a little warmer. Expected lows will now likely be between 23 and 25 degrees throughout most of the area, and below-freezing temperatures could dominate for up to 12 hours.

Officials have warned that the colder temperatures could mean trouble for area residents without shelter, and exposed pipes can burst in low temperatures that last for more than two hours. Low temperatures can also be a danger to pets and crops, and pet owners and farmers, as well as nursery owners, are urged to take precautionary measures.

Here are some tips to keep in mind:

1. Bring plants and pets inside if possible. No matter how much you protect them, they'll risk illness or death due to the below freezing weather outside.

2. Keep plants and pets away from areas that may be cold for them, such as near a window where a draft may affect them. Keep pets warm with a blanket or something warm and soft.

3. Be careful with any kind of heaters inside. These can lead to house fires. Certain types of heaters may also put out carbon monoxide. Read the product manual and make sure there's a decent amount of air circulation in those areas.

4. Protect exposed pipes outside and during the overnight hours, run the water at a slow drip to help prevent freezing in the pipelines.

Here are some other tips from the American Red Cross when going outside:

1. Dress in several layers of lightweight clothing, which will keep you warmer than a single heavy coat.

2. Mittens provide more warmth to your hands than gloves. Wear a hat, preferably one that covers your ears.

3. Take frequent breaks and stay hydrated.

4. Seek medical attention immediately if you have symptoms of hypothermia including confusion, dizziness, exhaustion or severe shivering.

5. Seek medical attention immediately if you have symptoms of frostbite including numbness, flushed gray, white, blue or yellow skin discoloration, numbness or waxy feeling skin.

Here are some other tips from the American Red Cross to protect yourself at home:

1. Inspect fireplaces and wood stoves yearly. Use a sturdy fire screen with lit fires. Burn only wood. Never burn paper or pine boughs.

2. Use generators correctly. Never operate a generator inside your home, including the basement or garage. Do not hook up a generator directly to your home's wiring. The safest thing to do is to connect the equipment you want to power directly to the outlets on the generator.

3. Prevent frozen pipes. When the weather is very cold outside, open cabinet doors to let warm air circulate around water pipes. Let the cold water drip from the faucet served by exposed pipes. Running water through the pipe, even at a trickle, helps prevent pipes from freezing because the temperature of the water running through it is above freezing. Keep the thermostat set to a consistent temperature.

4. Don’t overload your electrical outlets.

5. If you plan on using an alternate heating source, never use a stove or oven to heat your home. Keep a glass or metal fire screen around the fireplace and never leave a fireplace fire unattended. If using a space heater, follow the manufacturer’s instructions on how to safely use the heater. Place it on a level, hard, nonflammable surface. Turn the space heater off when you leave the room or go to sleep. Keep children and pets away from your space heater and do not use it to dry wet clothing.