Tips from the experts as Jack Frost gets ready to blast Destin area (PHOTOS)

Ice in Destin

The Destin area has seen icy days already this winter, but it's never caused school snow days or cancellations.

Kathy Harrison | The Log
Published: Wednesday, January 8, 2014 at 08:12 PM.

The big chill is coming to the Destin area.

Landscaping like this rose plant was covered in ice Friday morning along Highway 98 as temps slid to 30 degrees. With the wind chill it felt like 18, making for a bone-chilling morning in Destin. While temps rose over the weekend, forecasts call for even colder days ahead with a low near 20 degrees in Destin on Monday night.

Destin and the region are under a Freeze Warning, Hard Freeze Warning, Wind Advisory and Wind Chill Advisory.

According to the National Weather Service, a Wind Chill Advisory means that very cold air and strong winds will combine to generate bitterly cold wind chills of less than 10 degrees. This will result in frost bite and lead to hypothermia if precautions are not taken. If you must venture outdoors, make sure you wear a hat and gloves.

A hard freeze warning means temperatures 20 degrees or lower are imminent or highly likely. During this period of unusually cold weather... check on elderly neighbors to make sure they have adequate heat. Outdoor pets should also have adequate warmth. Area shelters should continue to expect increased demand. Temperatures such as these can cause exposed water pipes to burst.

Everyone should take adequate safety precautions with their heating systems... and make sure to utilize Carbon monoxide detectors in enclosed spaces. Extra caution should be used with portable space heaters. Make sure space heaters are not left unattended and are not used near flammable materials such as curtains or bed coverings.

Open the faucet slightly for a small stream of water overnight if you have any exterior open air piping.

Listen to NOAA Weather Radio or your local news media outlets for continuing updates on the cold weather. A hard freeze warning means sub-freezing temperatures are imminent or highly likely. These conditions will kill crops and other sensitive vegetation.

A Wind Advisory means that winds of 25 to 39 mph are expected. Winds this strong can make driving difficult, especially for high profile vehicles. Use extra caution.

Check out the photos of icy Destin at right. Share your photos of the Jack Frost on the Emerald Coast, by clicking here.

CITRUS AND THE COLD

As temps approach the upper teens in Destin late Monday, Master Gardener Larry Williams advises residents to put a citrus protection plan in place, adding that Destin citrus and fruit trees should fare better than other points in Northwest Florida.

“You are fortunate there. You got two bodies of water, the bay and the Gulf, that help moderate colder temperatures,” he said, adding that generally the fruit won’t be damaged until temps dip below the lower 20s for sustained periods of time.

Williams advises that young citrus trees are more vulnerable, but are easier to cover. He recommends using cloth and removing it after the cold snap since plastic sheeting traps the heat of the sun, which could damage the plant more long-term than the freeze.

For more tips on how to protect your fruit trees, click here.

- William Hatfield

ADVICE FROM DESTIN WATER USERS

DWU posted this to their Facebook page in early December. "As winter approaches it’s important to winterize our water pipes: Our temperatures here in Destin don’t usually fall below freezing, but when we do our exposed pipes on the exterior of your home can be vulnerable. Protect your exposed pipes by wrapping them with insulation. Know the location of your main shut off valve. If a pipe does freeze and burst, will you be able to shut the water off immediately? If you can’t shut off the water, call (850) 837-6146 for assistance during normal business hours. For assistance after hours, holidays, or weekends, call (850) 699-3647. 

TIPS FROM GULF POWER FOR DEALING WITH THE COLD SNAP

Cold weather is here and expected to continue into early next week along the Gulf Coast. Here are some tips to keep cozy and save money and energy during the winter season. Many more ideas are available at MyGulfPower.com.

Things you can do to save money and energy:

• Set your thermostat to 68 degrees or lower. For every degree below 68 you’ll save 10 percent on your heating costs.

• An electric blanket is more economical than heating the entire house all night long.

• Open shades, drapes and blinds during the winter so sunlight can enter the house and help to warm the home naturally. At night, close shades, drapes and blinds to help retain heat.

• Operate your ceiling fan on low speed and switch in reverse to push hot air from the ceiling level to the occupied-lower areas of the room. Use fans only when the room is occupied.

• Use a portable electric heater to heat only a small area. Purchase models that are thermostatically controlled. Keep it at least three feet from items that could catch fire like curtains or furniture. Make sure you have working smoke detectors on every floor and in every sleeping room of your house.

• Make sure vents and return-air registers are not blocked by furniture, draperies, doors or other obstacles.

• Don’t use your oven to heat your home — it’s very costly and most importantly, it’s very dangerous.

Things you can do to prepare your home for winter:

Temperature settings

• Heating your house can make up as much as half of your electricity bill so direct most of your attention to your thermostat. Keep it at 68 and wear warmer clothes.

• Programmable thermostats are a good investment, or you can take advantage of Gulf Power’s Energy Select. Energy Select is Gulf Power’s advanced energy management program that offers a lower price for electricity 87 percent of the time.

Heating and cooling equipment

• If your heating system is an older, less-efficient unit, upgrade to a geothermal heating and cooling system — or a high efficiency air-source heat pump. Talk to a Gulf Power representative for a free Energy Checkup: 1-877-655-4001.

• A complete tune-up of the home heating system can cost anywhere from $50 to $100 or more, but this is a worthwhile investment and can reduce your heating bill from 3 to 10 percent.  Remember to replace your filter every month. Talk to a Gulf Power representative: 1-877-655-4001.

• Duct leakage can account for 20 percent of your heating and cooling cost. Getting ducts sealed should be at the top of the list for making your home energy efficient.

Insulation

Adding insulation to your attic is one of the most cost-effective energy saving measures.

Weather-stripping and caulking

Weather-strip door jambs and caulk any cracks around windows to prevent cool air from entering your home.

Window units

If you have a window air conditioning unit, remove it for the winter months to prevent heat from escaping through and around the unit. If it can't be moved, put a cover over it to prevent drafts.

Humidifier

Use a humidifier to keep your home more comfortable. Adding moisture allows you to reduce the thermostat setting without feeling colder.

Customers can get a free Energy Checkup online or at your home with an appointment. Gulf Power energy experts will analyze your house and electricity use, and look for ways to make the house more energy efficient. Just go to MyGulfPower.com or call 1-877-655-4001.

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