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Updated: 01/22/2014 03:21:52PM

Cold-weather shelters to open tonight in South County

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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 Watch from 11 p.m. today, Jan. 22, until 9 a.m. Thursday, Jan. 23.

Sarasota County and Charlotte County Emergency Management have coordinated with the American Red Cross, the Salvation Army and community faith-based partners to provide cold weather sheltering for those in need. The following South County shelters will be open today: North Port, New Hope Community Church, 5600 S. Biscayne Drive, will open at 7 p.m.; Englewood, St. David’s Episcopal Church, 401 S. Broadway, will open at 6 p.m.; Venice, Grace United Methodist Church, 400 E. Field Ave., will open at 5 p.m. “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. For more information, contact the County Call Center at 941-861-5000 or visit the All Hazards website at

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