Advocate Editorial Board opinion: Get ready for chill while it's still warm

In the past few weeks, Victoria saw some chilling temperature drops. As in most south Texas winters, the cold weather only lasted a few days. While it's almost certain we will spend another year without a white Christmas, the brief periods of cold weather raise important concerns.

January and February are typically cold months. According to climate-zone.com, January in Victoria has an average temperature of 52.7 degrees Fahrenheit, with an average minimum of 42.5 degrees and average maximum of 62.8 degrees. For Texans used to temperatures ranging from 80s to 100s, we expect residents will be turning on their heaters. But before flicking that switch on the thermostat and pulling out the space heaters, consider taking some precautions to keep you and your family safe.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website, there are several different factors homeowners should consider when it comes to home safety. Residents should have a plan including precautions dealing with communication, food, water, heating, lighting and transportation.

The CDC recommends residents have a battery-powered radio, as well as extra batteries, available in case of power outages. That way, residents will still be able to listen for area emergency information. Residents should also keep a supply of canned, nonperishable foods, as well as a nonelectric can opener, baby food (if there is a baby in the home) and plenty of prescription drugs or other necessary medicines. A first-aid kit should also be available, as well as flashlights and battery-powered lamps for lanterns.

To keep pipes from freezing, keep your cabinet doors open to allow warm air access to the pipes. Also, keep the taps slightly open so there is a continuous drip. If your pipes do freeze, thaw them slowly using a hair dryer. Do not drink the water if your pipes have broken open.

Above all, we encourage readers to be careful with their heaters. Never place your space heater on furniture, near water or closer than 3 feet to furniture or drapes. Never leave children alone with heaters and use electric heaters with automatic shut-off switches and nonglowing elements. Residents should make sure they have a chemical fire extinguisher, as well as working smoke detectors and carbon monoxide detectors.

These are some basic tips to help residents prepare for colder temperatures and the problems that could come with them. We hope residents will take the time to examine this list and take precautions to protect themselves and their families.

The CDC website has several checklists available to help residents prepare for cold weather. We encourage Crossroads residents to go online and examine these suggestions before the weather turns cold again. It's best to put in a little effort and prevent problems rather than deal with and pay to repair problems later.

This editorial reflects the views of the Victoria Advocate's editorial board.