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Yes, it's cold [Editorial]

Shannon McDonald of Towson carefully crosses the frozen stream below Kilgore Falls in Pylesville Wednesday afternoon as she and her son Gus hike to see the frozen beauty of the popular landmark.
Shannon McDonald of Towson carefully crosses the frozen stream below Kilgore Falls in Pylesville Wednesday afternoon as she and her son Gus hike to see the frozen beauty of the popular landmark. (MATT BUTTON/THE AEGIS / Baltimore Sun Media Group)

Out went the old year with a chill Sunday night, and in came 2018 with equally bitter cold temperatures.

Of course, we don’t have to tell you it’s cold. That’s obvious to anyone who has stepped outside for even a minute since last Wednesday.

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What we can tell, however, is that you need to be careful in any extreme weather situations, from the way you dress to the way you react at home. Older dwellings typically are susceptible to drafts and when temperatures fall into the teens and single digits, that problem is exacerbated.

Many a home and a life has been lost to an improperly placed or used space heater. Overloaded electrical outlets and/or extension cords can result from the use of a space heater. Most folks have heard the warnings. Don’t place flammable materials near them – bedding being a prime example – and limit their time of use. If you leave for any amount of time, consider turning them off until you return.

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Prolonged cold can sometimes lead to frozen pipes because homes lack necessary insulation or, in extreme cases, the ground freezes below the level of the pipe carrying water into the home. If you have concerns about freezing pipes, it’s best to consult a plumber. There’s an old home remedy about leaving your facets open just enough to drip, but we’re not going to swear behind it.

You’ve all heard the warnings about wearing layered clothing outside in weather like we have seen the past week – and suitable head covering to hold in your body heat. Very cold weather also tends to cause people to have to exert themselves more if they are performing particular outdoor tasks, so it’s good to remember to slow down and take things nice and easy.

Keep your pets inside at night and don’t expose them to the outside more than necessary. Some dogs obviously are bred for the cold and love it, but just like their masters and mistresses, they’re going to be exerting more in these low temperatures, so don’t let them overdo it.

Which brings to mind another thought about the current cold snap, which has lasted long enough to freeze over most local ponds and some creeks. Take no chances with ice. Several websites say people and pets should stay off ice under 4 inches in thickness, while 4 to 5 inches is safe to skate on and thicker would be OK for using a snowmobile. But our Harford County weather is so changeable, ice can melt quickly. Never take chances and that includes with your dogs.

On the bright side of things, except for Saturday, it’s been mainly cold and sunny, so 2018 arrived bright and happy, if not a little brisk.

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