South Floridians don’t face freezing conditions often, and when the temperature drops into the 30s — as is forecast to happen this weekend — we’re as puzzled as a northerner looking at a cafecito.
Here are some tips to help you deal with the mass of cold air that started in Canada and is expected to deliver South Florida the coldest temperatures we’ve seen in more than a decade.
Broward County has declared a two-day weather emergency from 6 p.m. Saturday until 10 a.m. Monday. Homeless residents are advised to report to shelters no later than 6 p.m. Saturday or Sunday.
- Fort Lauderdale: The Salvation Army, 1445 W. Broward Blvd.
- Hollywood: The South Homeless Assistance Center, 2056 Scott St.
- Pompano Beach: 1700 Blount Road.
A bus will leave The Salvation Army in Fort Lauderdale at 5:45 p.m. Saturday and Sunday nights to take people to other locations. People must be at The Salvation Army no later than 5:30 p.m. to board the bus and space is limited.
If the forecast changes and shelter hours are adjusted an announcement will be made no later than 1 p.m. that day.
Additional information can be obtained at the Homeless Hotline at 954-563-4357.
The Broward Sheriff’s Office has been distributing blankets to homeless residents. Officers from neighboring municipalities have taken blankets from the Broward Sheriff’s Office headquarters and given them to homeless residents in their cities.
There’s an easy-to-remember rule regarding pets, according to Cherie Wachter, vice president of marketing for the Broward Human Society.
“If it’s too cold for you out there, it’s too cold for them,” she said.
Dogs and cats should be brought indoors, Wachter said. And be sure they don’t lay too closely to a space heater.
Also, when outside, be aware an animal could be under your car or under your car’s hood for warmth.
“It’s real important the day after the cold snap to toot the horn or bang on the hood of your car,” she said.
Wachter said if your dog can’t be brought inside, be sure to give it extra bedding, even in a dog house, and make sure the bedding is raised off the ground.
Saturated soil is what keeps a plant’s roots warm, according to Emily Marois, urban horticulture extension agent at the UF/IFAS Palm Beach County Extension Office.
“Some things they can do that would help is making sure that their plants are adequately watered right before it gets really cold,” Marois said.
Covering plants with a frost cloth or bed sheet works well, too.
“The covers really need to reach the ground and be tucked in with bricks or soil or rocks and draped over plants if there’s no way to keep the sheet off of the plants,” she said.
Marois said they also recommend turning off any in-ground irrigation systems before a freeze.
Tropical plants such as orchids should be brought inside, if possible.
Subtropical-type plants can acclimate to weather and temperatures, Marois said.
Saturday is expected to be the big day for flight cancellations. Carriers such as American, United, Southwest and Jet Blue have already canceled about 800 flights nationwide Saturday.
Check with your airline before heading to the airport.
If you’re going to be outside for an extended length of time, dress in layers of clothing as opposed one big sweater and one big coat.
“The whole point of dress preparation is to prevent hypothermia,” said Dr. Aldo Calvo, director of ambulatory division at Broward Health.
Starting at the top of your body, wear a hat that covers your ears, Calvo said.
Wearing two long-sleeve shirts under your coat, or a short-sleeve shirt and a long-sleeve shirt under your coat, is preferable.
Gloves or mittens “would be wonderful, anything to cover the digits or the fingers because areas that are far away from the heart typically have less blood flow and those areas will be more exposed to frostbite,” Calvo said.
Calvo said wearing a scarf to cover the neck is good, and possibly even thermal underwear.
Calvo said high-risk groups such as the elderly or infants or those with multiple chronic conditions should be watched carefully.
As for joggers, hydration and dressing in layers is key.
“If you’re not hydrated and you’re already dry, your metabolism is going to start to go quickly and increase,” he said, “and you want to conserve as much heat as possible for your vital organs.”
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Calvo doesn’t recommend running in frigid temperatures because the body needs to sweat “and you’re not going to have the ability with layer upon layer, so limit your exercise during these types of conditions and try to do the exercise indoors if you can.”
And finally, Calvo said gathering in front of a fire pit and having a cup of hot chocolate could be a good activity.
“I think as Floridians we should enjoy this cold that we’re going to experience because it’s not often we have this opportunity to gather in front of the fire pit with our family, our friends, our significant others, and have that s’mores or that cocoa,” he said.
Palm Beach County reminds horse and livestock owners to ensure they have access to a barn or three-sided structure as protection from cold and wind.
Florida Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried said numerous programs for federal disaster assistance are available for those who lose agriculture or livestock to the cold.
“I encourage all producers to prepare as best you can ahead of the anticipated cold front, including being aware of potential disaster assistance programs and their requirements,” Fried said in a statement.