It's beginning to feel, if not look, like Christmas. Temperatures are expected to dip below freezing this weekend, and there's a slim chance of a snow flurry if you're planning to drive up into higher elevations across the North Georgia Mountains.

Captain Jason Smith at The Salvation Army on East First Avenue said he's already seen an increase in people coming into the shelter to spend the night. The shelter has 20 beds for men and 4 designated for women. "We haven't had to pull out the cots yet," Smith said. "We are prepared to do that. We don't want anybody out in the cold."

Floyd County Extension Director Keith Mickler said Floyd County has already seen the temperature dip below freezing on five occasions, including mornings during the last week of November.

The Salvation Army does not provide day shelter services, so people who check into the shelter by 11 p.m. each night generally leave for the day after getting breakfast. Smith explained the shelter is open to anyone other than individuals who may have been previously banned from the facility.

Devon Smyth, director of the William S. Davies Homeless Shelter, said she is also capable of adding cots to the existing 16 bed inventory, which she explained stays pretty full. One thing that Smyth and the Davies Shelter do a little differently during periods of extreme cold is that they don't close during the day. "We don't want them out in the cold with nowhere to go," Smyth said.

Normally, Davies Shelter residents leave after breakfast to do job searches, get treatment or otherwise take action to try to improve their own lives. Homeowners should take steps to protect their newer plants.

"People can put out bed sheets to protect fall plantings." Mickler said. He also suggested that people put a five-gallon bucket over tender plants, or turn a wheel barrow upside down over them. "But you've got to remember to uncover them the next day," Mickler warns. He does not encourage people to use plastic because if it is left on the plants during the day, the sun searing through the plastic could burn the tender foliage.

As for pets, local veterinarians encourage people to bring their dogs and cats in when the temperature drops below freezing and remind pet owners to make sure water for their animals is refreshed frequently and not frozen over.