This week we’ve experienced the coldest temperatures so far this winter season, the National Weather Service is reporting. We expect a Michigan winter to always deliver a few cold snaps but the bitter conditions like we’ve seen recently can still deliver a shock to the system and, to that end, it’s worth brushing up on common cold weather precautions we should all take.

•Whether it’s a blizzard or extreme cold, officials’ first bit of advice is “stay home unless you have to go out.” Thanks to this pandemic, that’s something we’ve all gotten better at doing.

•According to The Heat and Warmth Fund (THAW), 40 percent of Michigan households struggle to afford basic housing needs, including energy. More than 28,000 children and 4,800 seniors lived in households that received energy assistance last year. For obvious reasons, extreme weather events can exacerbate those needs. If you or someone you know needs utility assistance help, call 1-800-866-THAW (8429).

•Do what you can to be prepared in your home including having sufficient fuel for generators, weather-proofing doors and windows and insulating pipes with newspaper or plastic. What better way to recycle your Tri-City Times than keeping your pipes cozy? Allow water to drip from your faucets to reduce the chance that they will freeze.

•If using a heater or generator, be sure the area where it’s placed is well-ventilated.

•If possible, bring animals indoors before the thermometer drops. If that’s not possible, insulate outside shelters for them. Once again, St. Clair County Animal Control is offering free straw for dog and cat houses. To learn more, call 810-984-3155.

•For essential trips that take you outside, make sure your vehicle has sufficient fuel and take warm supplies—like gloves, hats and blankets—with you in case you become stranded.

•Know the signs of frostbite and hypothermia. Frostbite may be settling in if your fingers, toes or face lose feeling or have a pale appearance. Signs of hypothermia include uncontrollable shivering, memory loss, drowsiness and exhaustion. Wear several layers of loose fitting clothing.

•Remember that the cold can more severely affect vulnerable populations like the elderly and children. It’s important to ensure they have the protection and sustenance they need against the cold too.

Stay warm out there and do what you can to help others stay safe too.


Show local businesses your love


If you’re on a hunt for that special Valentine’s Day gift, consider showing some love to an area business by shopping local this week.

It’s well-known that many local proprietors have had a challenging year and now, more than ever, they could use a boost from their neighbors.

Take a quick glance at the holiday advertisements in this week’s edition and you might be surprised at the variety of Valentine Day gift options—whether it’s dinner out at a special restaurant, a customized flower arrangement or the perfect decorations for an at-home celebration—there’s something for everyone.

And don’t forget about Fat Tuesday! There’s no shortage of local options for finding some delicious paczki on Tuesday, Feb. 16. Our advertisers are eager to provide their customers with the best deep-fried goodness we all like to indulge in just before Lent.

Hopefully, shopping local is something you do on the regular but if not, these special dates on the calendar provide a great chance to jump start that commitment.