Mercury to drop tonight

Published 12:00 am Monday, January 5, 2004

Suffolk News-Herald

Bring in the dogs and cats, close the doors and put on your &uot;long johns.&uot; The temperature is plummeting, and by tonight you’ll be glad that there are only about 90 days before warmer weather returns in pre-springtime.

According to the National Weather Service’s Wakefield Station, tonight will be mostly clear, but the bottom will fall out of the thermometer as the temperature descends to the low 20s. To intensify the effect of winter, winds will be from the Northwest at 10 to 15 miles per hour.


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After the fairly balmy days of this past weekend, where unseasonable temperatures hovered in the 70s, Wednesday’s high will send you packing for extra sweaters, jackets and a warm set of mittens.

Thursday will be much like Wednesday, with a sunny morning and clouds forming later in the day. Again, the highs will only be in the 30s. Friday, Saturday, and Sunday will have temperatures rising in the 20s and 30s.

Suffolk Emergency Management Coordinator Captain Jim Judkins said we should prepare now for a cold winter.

Judkins said that while there is no snow predicted in the near future, residents should take precautions now for driving and walking in the snow and freezing rain should they occur.

Also, he said there are several precautions people should take to heating their homes.

&uot;People with wood burning or kerosene space heaters or wood burning fireplaces will want to burn them low to take the chill out of the air,&uot; said Judkins. &uot;Burning kerosene heaters on low will cause them to soot up, and in the case of a wood heater or fireplace, creosote will build up in the chimney. Then, when temperatures dip, the heaters and fireplaces are turned up, and for wood burning appliances, this is the perfect recipe for a roaring chimney fire. Sooted-up kerosene heaters burn inefficiently, which could also lead to an increased level of deadly carbon monoxide.&uot;

People should be prepared for other challenges of cold temperatures.

&uot;Remember that several layers of clothes will keep you warmer than a single heavy coat,&uot; said Judkins. &uot;A hat and scarf are also important since about 20 percent of body head is lost through the top of the head.&uot;

He added that pets are also susceptible to the extremely cold weather.

&uot;Keep your pets indoors as much as possible. If this is not possible, then make sure outdoor pets have warm dry shelter and provide sufficient food and fresh, unfrozen water.&uot;

As for taking precautions with your health in this cold season, flu activity in Virginia is considered widespread at this time, and everyone is urged by the Virginia Department of Health to be extremely cautious since all regions of the state are reporting increased flu activity in clinics and hospitals.

This typically does not occur in Virginia until January; however, as Judkins noted, there are many cases of Influenza A in Virginia, consistent with national reports.

He also said most cases of flu go unreported, but the VDH relies on a network of 72 doctors around the state who voluntarily report flu activity statewide to determine the level of activity.

The captain also said the Center for Disease Control in Atlanta reported that about 36,000 people have died nationwide from flu. In 2002, there were 1,475 flu and pneumonia related deaths reported to the State, and about half of them were people over 85 years old.

There are some precautions people can take to help prevent flu, including the use of tissues to cover the mouth and nose when sneezing or coughing. Dispose of the tissue immediately and wash hands thoroughly with soap and hot water for at least 20 seconds.

Hands should be rinsed and dried on disposable towels. You should even use paper towels to turn off the faucet and wipe water from top of cabinets.

Doctors are recommending that people stay home from work or school for at least five days after symptoms begin to prevent spreading the disease.