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  • Prepare for the arctic cold

    Follow these tips to get through this week's winter-like weather
  • 24-19-22-25.
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  • 24-19-22-25.
    No, those numbers aren't a winning lottery ticket tip. As of Monday afternoon, they were the National Weather Service's predicted low temperatures for Medford tonight through Friday. For Ashland, the numbers dropped to 21-15-20-23.
    And, before you start feeling sorry for yourself, consider the good folks in Prospect, where the predicted lows are 18-13-18-18.
    Regardless of precisely where you are, it's going to get chilly in the Rogue Valley for the next few days, thanks to an arctic cold front that's headed our way.
    "The next few nights that follow, that's where the coldest temperatures will be," NWS meteorologist Mike Petrucelli says. "It's going to at least last a few days."
    You can rage against the cold — or do your best imitation of a Boy Scout and "Be Prepared" by taking some basic precautions in getting ready for the shivery onslaught.
    Stay warm without going broke
    Don't want the temperature inside your home to feel like the outside, but also don't want to take out a second mortgage to pay the power bill? Then trap as much heat as you can, Pacific Power officials say:
    Drafty windows should be covered with a heavy-duty clear plastic sheet, and drapes should be closed during the night hours to keep heat trapped during the day inside.
    "Keeping them open during the day will help heat up a little bit," says Tom Gauntt, Pacific Power spokesman. "That helps."
    • Weather stripping drafty doors and putting towels or blankets at the bases can help trap even more heat. Older doors should be the first place to check.
    • Heating systems should be prepped and cleaned. Replacing filters on a regular basis will increase the system's efficiency.
    "Look at anything that's blocked," Gauntt says
    To save money on heating costs, try to keep the thermostat at about 68 degrees. Lower it further when you leave the home for additional savings.
    Dress for success — and warmth
    Trapping heat is a two-part deal. Keeping it in your home is one thing. Keeping it in your body is another.
    If you're going to be out and about for any extended period, and you're thinking about wearing those natty snow pants you've had in the closet for a couple of decades, you might consider layers instead.
    The three basic layers are wicking, insulating and protection.
    Next to your body, wear wicking materials that will help reduce moisture — thermal underwear, for example. (If you're planning to spend the day in the office after a brisk morning walk, however, consider your options carefully.
    The second layer — insulation — comes from heavier fibers such as fleece and wool, which trap warm air in and keep cold air out.
    The third layer provides protection against wind, rain and snow, preferably a shell that is both waterproof and breathable.
    Warm up from the inside out
    Now that you've protected your outside with several layers, try a hot drink to warm up the inside.
    If you're a tea person, herbal tea blends with ingredients like eucalyptus and lemon grass are the ticket.
    "Herbals will do more for restoring if you're feeling cold or lethargic," says John Wiuff, owner of the Roundtable Tea Company in Medford. "If you're really looking for something that's going to fight the cold weather, an herbal infusion's the way to go."
    If you're looking for a beverage selection that's a little more adult, a hot buttered rum is the ticket.
    David Graham, chef and owner of 38 Central, recommends two shots of rum in a mug, mixed with a bit of brown sugar and a pat of butter, with hot water poured over everything.
    "That combination, it's a great way to warm up," Graham says.
    Plant rescue
    When it comes to potted plants, Master Gardener coordinator Bob Reynolds of the Southern Oregon Research & Extension Center has one simple rule for freezing cold weather: Get them inside.
    "Anything that is in a pot that is going to be really sensitive to really cold weather, make sure you get it inside," Reynolds says. "Bring those pots indoors or into a garage or someplace that's going to be a little bit warmer. Even those things that are generally OK when it freezes."
    Anything planted directly into the ground has a better chance, he adds, but covering that soil in a layer of mulch an inch to 2 inches thick will help keep it warm.
    And finally, those with a green thumb should remember to disconnect sprinkler systems and drain hoses properly.
    Protect your pets
    But plants aren't the only living things that may need protection from the temperature plunge. Our four-legged friends need warmth, too.
    Officials at Jackson County Animal Care & Control say dogs and cats should be inside overnight during freezing weather. But if they need to be outside, make sure they are sheltered properly in a structure with proper insulation and limited space, just enough for the animal to stand up and turn around inside.
    "You want it to be small enough so the dog is keeping the heat close enough to it," says Rebecca Long, shelter supervisor.
    Pets should also have their water changed daily, as it will probably freeze by day's end.
    Prepare pipes properly — and pronto
    Plumbing experts say proper pipe preparation — say that three times fast — is important during dramatic drops in temperature. Water that does not drain from pipes can cause them to burst, resulting in hundreds to thousands of dollars in repairs.
    Jon Janakes, vice president of Ashland Medford Plumbing, says homeowners should make sure pipes are insulated from the cold. In addition to insulating the pipes, he says accesses to the crawl space beneath the home should be plugged off to prevent cold air from getting in.
    "You want to prevent the wind from blowing through the crawl space and coming across the pipes," Janakes says.
    Also, make sure hoses are detached from the bibs outside. Water left in the hose could freeze and track to the pipes inside the wall, where it could burst.
    "The biggest culprit that we find, bar none, is people leave their hoses attached to the hose bib," Janakes says. "You must remove the hose to allow the water to evacuate that area."
    Always be prepared
    No matter the type of extreme weather predicted, Pacific Power officials say keeping an emergency kit on hand is important in case of a power outage.
    The company's website recommends flashlights, extra batteries, a battery-operated radio, ready-to-eat foods, a manual can opener, bottled water, a first aid kit and blankets.
    If you have a woodstove or a fireplace, make sure you have enough wood on hand to keep at least a small fire going. Check your chimney for any obstructions if it's been awhile since you last used it.
    Reach reporter Ryan Pfeil at 541-776-4468 or by email at rpfeil@mailtribune.com.
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