Southside braces for arctic blast

The New Year arrives in Southside Virginia with an arctic blast officials are saying could stick around well into the new year.
According to reports from the National Weather Service, temperatures will struggle to rise above freezing for much of the first week of the year and night time temperatures are expected to drop into the teens.
The average temperature range for this area at this time of year is normally around 50 degrees during the day, falling to around freezing at night.
Snow or ice during the period is not expected and the NWS reports only a 30 percent chance of snow on Wednesday.
Speaking on Friday, the Mecklenburg County Department of Social Services said that they have not been notified to take any special precautions or to open any shelters. The spokesperson added that DSS does not make that decision on the county level.
County Administrator Wayne Carter said on Friday that the county is “not looking at opening shelters at this time.” According to Carter, a decision to open shelters is made based on information provided by the Mecklenburg 911 in regards to calls and reports of cold weather problems.
Carter added that due to a relatively low number of homeless people in the area, the opening of shelters during cold weather is usually more common in cities and more urban locations.
Carter added that he remembered several years ago when an apartment complex in Chase City lost power during an intense cold spell, a temporary shelter was opened.
Meanwhile, citizens are urged to take the usual cold weather steps recommended for unusually cold weather.
Anyone using portable “space” heaters should inspect electrical cords and avoid using extension cables on the devices. If extension cords must be used, opting for a heavy-duty cord is recommended to minimize risks.
Space heaters should be kept at least three feet from walls and away from drapes, furniture and other items that could catch on fire.
Those using kerosene heaters are reminded to allow the heater time to cool down before refilling and to make sure the heaters are used only with proper ventilation.
Keep children and pets away from any type of heater.
Experts suggest that when you’re at home and about, heat should be keep at around 68 degrees. At night when people are in bed or not at home, the level can be cut back to save energy and money. During daylight hours, curtains and drapes should be pulled back to allow natural heating from sunlight.
Rooms that are not in use can be closed to keep from heating unused spaces.
Frozen pipes can be a nuisance and a costly one. Prior to the arrival of subfreezing weather, citizens should make sure their pipes are properly insulated. Any openings under homes should be covered to minimize the chances of pipes freezing or bursting.
For many people, pets are an important part of the family. Those with outside pets should consider allowing them inside during the arctic blast or at least making sure that they have access to a warm, dry place to get out of the frigid temperatures.
See other stories in this edition to learn how to prep vehicles, homes and pipes for winter, as well as safety tips for pets in cold weather.