Cold weather

Polk County Public Safety Director Randy Lacey is advising people to bundle up tightly if they plan to go outdoors, but for the time being if they don't have a reason to get into the frigid temperatures, stay indoors.

Expect the home heating bill to be a bit higher this month as temperatures are going to remain well below freezing for the next few nights, and the days won't be much better.

The National Weather Service forecast has the thermometer starting off 2018 in Polk County at 29 degrees for a high, and will get down to 12 degrees overnight with a wind chill advisory in effect.

It doesn't get much better for the rest of the week. Tuesday will see a high of 33, with a low of 17 overnight, and the temperatures will remain about the same through midweek and into Friday and Saturday. Relief will finally come with an expected warmer day next Sunday with a high predicted of 46.

For the time being, Lacey is advising people to stay indoors as much as possible. When forced to go outside in these frigid temperatures, make sure to wear several layers, and gloves and warm hats. Hands, the face, feet and exposed skin will feel the effects of the cold first, and prolonged exposure to below freezing temperatures can cause frostbite and hypothermia.

Lacey also asks local residents to be sure their sources of heat indoors aren't going to cause fires either. Keep anything flammable away from an open flame, be sure that chimneys are clean enough to use before using fireplaces, and most importantly be sure that any electric space heaters in use are connected to an outlet that is able to handle the load.

As of this morning, there are no immediate plans to open emergency shelters for the frigid temperatures in place by the county or the cities. In the past, the cities have opened up shelters but have not been needed by residents.