By Brian Livingston / firstname.lastname@example.org
So far the area has experienced almost balmy weather for an early fall season but today that is expected to change as a low pressure front will move through the area and leave behind some chilly temps.
According to meteorologists with the National Weather Service in Jackson, expected rain should give way to clearing skies, blustery conditions and temperatures ranging from daytime highs in the mid 60s to nighttime lows in the mid 30s. Winds, say meteorologists, will make it feel much cooler with steady breezes of 15 mph and gusts to 25 mph.
The weather pattern should stay in the area for the next several days and the cold nights is a cause of concern for Meridian Fire Department Chief Anthony Clayton and Maj. Walter Strong of the Salvation Army.
Clayton said the first cold nights of the year prompt homeowners to turn on their central heating units and their space heaters, which can pose potential fire hazards.
"The major culprit in home fires is people," Clayton said. "People need to be aware that fire is to be respected and they must do all they can to ensure fire safety in their own homes."
Space heaters need space, fire officials warn — period. Keep space heaters away from curtains, furniture, clothes and any other flammable items. Make sure they are properly connected to a power source and that the cords don't have any breaks or exposed areas from wear and tear, Clayton said.
With central heating units, Clayton said homeowners need to check and probably change their filters, and have a professional service the heating unit itself before turning it on. Dust and small animals such as mice or birds could have gotten into the system and created a clog or other potential fire hazard.
"Above all else, check those smoke detectors in your home," Clayton said. "These will absolutely save the lives of you and your family."
Those who are homeless will likely be looking for a warm place as well. The Salvation Army shelter at 710 B Street offers shelter for men 18 and older.
"When I was in Florida we didn't have many people coming to the shelter because of cold weather but as this is my first winter here, I'm told by the staff we better prepare for those homeless in Meridian," Strong said. "We are in the process of washing blankets and sheets expecting some of the homeless to come by looking for a little warmth."
Strong said the shelter normally houses around 15 people but that it can accommodate up to 40 if the need arises.