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Updated: 01/16/2014 04:28:01PM

Shelters opening, community urged to use caution in cold-weather conditions

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SARASOTA COUNTY — A predicted drop in temperatures to the low 30s has Sarasota County Emergency Management officials reminding residents to be prepared and use caution both indoors and outside.

Temperatures are projected to drop rapidly, and the National Weather Service has issued a freeze warning from 1-9 a.m. Friday, Jan. 17. Sarasota County and Charlotte County Emergency Management have coordinated with the American Red Cross and the Salvation Army to provide cold weather sheltering for those in need. The following shelters will be open today at 6 p.m. and, if needed, Friday, at 6 p.m.: Englewood, St. David’s Episcopal Church, 401 S. Broadway; Venice, Center of Hope Church, 1216 E. Venice Ave.; and Sarasota, Salvation Army-Center of Hope, 1400 Tenth St. “It is important that the community prepare for colder than usual conditions by taking precautions to protect their homes, families and pets,” stressed Sarasota County Emergency Management Chief Ed McCrane. Pets should not be left outside during the cold weather. Citizens who need to be outside overnight or during the early morning hours are encouraged to dress in several warm layers and limit skin exposure to the wind. Fire officials advise citizens to use caution when heating their home as the risk of fire and carbon monoxide poisoning increase during very cold weather due to the improper use of heating devices, so extreme caution is advised. “Never use propane or gas heaters indoors and be sure that electric space heaters are free from obstructions and are not located where they can be knocked over by children or pets. Never leave a lighted candle unattended, and always keep all flammable objects away from any heating devices,” said McCrane.

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