Officials watch weather forecast, warn residents to prepare for extreme cold

Sheriff Stuart Wright, Natchitoches Parish Sheriff’s Deputies, Goldonna Police, and members of the Natchitoches Parish Office of Emergency Preparedness attended a NWS Shreveport webinar on Dec. 20 at 2 pm at NATCOM 911 Center concerning the impacts of extremely cold weather forecasted for Natchitoches Parish over the next several days according to the Natchitoches Parish Sheriff’s Office.
The forecast hasn’t changed much. The cold air mass is expected to arrive Thursday evening with lows in the teens and northwesterly winds behind the front ranging from 35-40 mph. This will lead to a wind chill factor of at least -3 degrees.
According to the National Weather Service the expected low for Friday morning is anywhere from 11-13 degrees. There is a narrow possibility of precipitation. A hard freeze watch has been issued for Natchitoches Parish with temperatures below freezing for at least 41 hours this means at least until 12pm on Christmas Day.
The high winds may cause some utility lines and tree limbs to fall. Take action now to protect your plumbing, livestock and outdoor vegetation. Protect your pipes, check on your neighbors, the elderly and bring in your plants and pets or make sure they are in a warm environment.
This will be the coldest weather event of the year. Be careful when heating homes. Louisiana State Fire Marshal, H. “Butch” Browning, jr. is urging folks to be extra careful when heating their homes. Browning says the number one mistake he sees are generators being improperly used.
Below are some safety tips for residents as they use portable generators:
Generators should be used in well-ventilated locations outside at least 20 feet away from all doors, windows, and vent openings.
Never use a generator in an attached garage, even with the door open.
Place generators so that exhaust fumes can’t enter the home through windows, doors or other openings in the building.
Make sure to install smoke and carbon monoxide (CO) alarms in your home.
Turn off generators and let them cool down before refueling.
Never refuel a generator while it is hot.
He says it’s also important to understand how toxic carbon monoxide poisoning can be…“You can’t see it. Can’t smell it. It’s very deadly gas. In fact, over time, it puts you into a deep deep sleep, and then actually put you unconscious and at some point can be lethal to you,” Browning said.
Below are some safety tips for residents as they use space heaters:
Choose a heater with the seal of a qualified testing laboratory.
Keep the heater at least 3 feet away from anything that can burn, including people.
Choose a heater with a thermostat and overheat protection.
Place the heater on a solid, flat surface.
Make sure your heater has an auto shut-off to turn the heater off if it tips over.
Keep space heaters out of the way of foot traffic – Never block an exit.
Keep children away from the space heater.
Plug the heater directly into the wall outlet. Never use an extension cord.
Space heaters should be turned off and unplugged when you leave the room or go to bed.
Browning says in the event that your power goes out, he says it’s best to have a plan for somewhere else to go.