Local agencies prepare for freezing temperatures

BATON ROUGE, LA (WAFB) - The colder temperatures had local groups and officials on high alert Sunday and urging residents to be prepared.

"That's our number one priority this time of year in fire service is people using space heaters," said Howard Ward of the Baker Fire Department.

Ward says colder temperatures in the winter means people will do what they can to fight off the chill.  Ward adds if you have to use space heaters, use them correctly and make sure there are used with working smoke detectors at all times.

"We're concerned about people in their homes, heating their homes. Heat them properly, don't use your stoves to heat the house, be careful with the space heaters and by all means watch out the electrical cords because people have a tendency to put too much on electrical cords," said Ward.

On the roadways parish public works crews will be on the lookout for icy spots and ready to respond if needed. In Livingston Parish alone more than 400 tons of sand is on standby if crews are called into action.

At St. Vincent de Paul the freeze means an influx of people looking for shelter. The men's shelter has 62 beds available with officials anticipating a 25 to 50 percent increase in stay over the next two days.

"When it gets that cold people really understand the importance of getting out of the elements and getting into a warm place where they can get a warm meal and get the compassion we can provide here at St. Vincent de Paul," said Michael Acaldo of St. Vincent de Paul.

Compassion is on hand at Companion Animal Alliance as well, where normal procedure during below freezing temperatures is to make sure the hundreds of animals at the shelter are plenty warm.

"Once it gets below freezing we normally will take every animal which is housed outside and bring them in. if they need to be quarantined then we'll bring them where there are no other animals around them but will also provide them with blankets and heaters," said Laura Dunlavy, a veterinarian Technician at CAA.

Ward also urges people to make sure they have plenty of supplies at home and plenty of extra layers for any trips outside.

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