BATON ROUGE, La. (BRPROUD) — Christmas weather forecasts show Louisiana is bracing for an arctic blast in the latter half of this week.

Temperatures will reach arctic cold in Baton Rouge starting on Thursday evening through Christmas Eve, according to a forecast from the National Weather Service (NWS) in New Orleans. Forecasters predict that Friday night will be the coldest night, with lows possibly dropping into the teens. Additionally, it is forecasted that wind chill values could be in the single digits to near zero.

“Remember to include your family, pets, pipes and plants in your plans,” Mayor-President Sharon Weston Broome’s office said. “These colder temperatures will increase the use of gas appliances; if these appliances are not working properly it could lead to carbon monoxide (CO) production. Test your CO and smoke detectors to ensure they are in proper working condition. Plan to stay indoors for holiday weekend activities.”

Red Stick Ready Tips for extreme cold weather:

  • Be aware of the symptoms of hypothermia and seek medical attention immediately if you notice any signs and the person’s temperature is below 95° F.
    • In adults, warning signs of hypothermia include shivering, exhaustion or feeling very tired, confusion, fumbling hands, memory loss, slurred speech and drowsiness.
    • In babies, signs include bright red, cold skin and very low energy.
  • Check on elderly friends and neighbors often to make sure their homes are heated properly.
  • Prepare your home to keep out the cold air with insulation, caulking and weather stripping.
    • Install and test smoke alarms and carbon monoxide detectors with battery backups.
    • Keep in mind each person’s specific needs, including medication.
  • If you plan to use a wood stove, fireplace or space heater, be extremely careful. Follow the manufacturer’s instructions and remember these safety tips:
    • Keep heat sources, like space heaters, at least 3 feet away from drapes, furniture, or bedding. Never cover your space heater.
    • Avoid using extension cords to plug in your space heater.
    • If your space heater has a damaged electrical cord or produces sparks, do not use it.
  • Dress in layers to keep yourself warm.
    • Bring your pets inside when possible.
    • Protect, cover or wrap your pipes.
    • Protect your plants as necessary.

For up-to-date information, follow Red Stick Ready on Facebook and Twitter @RedStickReady and download the app.

Will shelters open in Baton Rouge?

No shelters are opening at this time but the Baton Rouge Mayor’s Office of Homeland Security & Emergency Preparedness (MOHSEP) is in contact with shelters in the area and has checked in with St. Vincent de Paul and The Salvation Army about capacity numbers.

On Wednesday, St. Vincent de Paul said it will be putting its cold weather plan into action. The organization said it anticipates filling all of its shelter beds and plans to make room for emergency cases in the overflow shelter.

How to dress for extreme cold

If you’re planning on going to a holiday party, make sure you’re more than bundled up to stay warm.

The National Weather Service suggests wearing a warm hat, three or more long-sleeve shirt layers, two or more pant layers, an outer layer like a winter coat or jacket, a face mask and waterproof boots on Friday through Christmas Day.

Pets and extreme cold weather

Make sure your pets are cared for during freezing temperatures. Here are some tips from NWS:

  • Keep them warm and dry, and indoors whenever possible.
  • Provide plenty of food and water. Dehydration is especially dangerous in winter.
  • When outside, keep them bundled up. Limit outside time, and thoroughly clean (including paws) when bringing them in.

How to keep pipes from freezing

The Red Cross suggests the following to protect pipes in extreme weather:

  • Drain water from swimming pool and water sprinkler supply lines following manufacturer’s or installer’s directions. Do not put antifreeze in these lines unless directed. Antifreeze is environmentally harmful, and is dangerous to humans, pets, wildlife and landscaping.
  • Remove, drain and store hoses used outdoors. Close inside valves supplying outdoor hose bibs. Open the outside hose bibs to allow water to drain. Keep the outside valve open so that any water remaining in the pipe can expand without causing the pipe to break.
  • Add insulation to attics, basements and crawl spaces. Insulation will maintain higher temperatures in these areas.
  • Check around the home for other areas where water supply lines are located in unheated areas. Look in the garage, and under kitchen and bathroom cabinets. Both hot and cold water pipes in these areas should be insulated.
  • Consider installing specific products made to insulate water pipes like a “pipe sleeve” or installing UL-listed “heat tape,” “heat cable” or similar materials on exposed water pipes. Newspaper can provide some degree of insulation and protection to exposed pipes – even ¼” of newspaper can provide significant protection in areas that usually do not have frequent or prolonged temperatures below freezing.
  • Consider relocating exposed pipes to provide increased protection from freezing.

Could there be a power outage?

MOHSEP said electricity or natural gas loss is not expected at this time, noting that icy conditions typically cause utility issues.

If the power goes out, follow these tips from FEMA:

  • Keep freezers and refrigerators closed.
  • Use a generator, but ONLY outdoors and away from windows.
  • Do not use a gas stove or oven to heat your home.
  • Disconnect appliances and electronics to avoid damage from electrical surges.
  • Have alternate plans for refrigerating medicines or using power-dependent medical devices.
  • Check with local officials about heating and cooling locations open near you.

Heating safety reminders during winter weather

The Louisiana State Fire Marshal’s Office says:

  • Keep anything that can burn at least three free away from heating equipment, such as fireplaces and space heaters.
  • Never use an oven to heat your home.
  • Install and maintain carbon monoxide alarms to avoid the risk of poisoning.