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Southern Californians bundle up as temps drop

December 20, 2012 12:00:00 AM PST
Several areas across Southern California are dealing with freezing conditions, including the Antelope Valley, where temps hit a record low on Thursday.

Lancaster recorded a low minimum temperature of 14 degrees, breaking the previous record of 15 degrees set in 2006.

Temps also plunged below freezing in Palmdale, where vehicles and streets were covered in a layer of frost. A frost advisory was in effect for the area until 9 a.m.

The cold presents a big problem for the more than 2,000 homeless people in the Antelope Valley, and the single shelter that helps keep them out of freezing conditions.

The Lancaster Community Homeless Shelter only has 120 beds, leaving the majority of the homeless to fend for themselves.

"Once the sun starts going down, it gets cold," said Steve Baker, executive director of the shelter. "It's a heartbreaker for me, we deal with so many people. We feed 10,000 people a month at Grace Resource Center, we have a 120 bed shelter that we have operated for the last 18 months, and it's full. We do everything we can."

One woman, only identified as Irene, is homeless. She says the bitter nights are starting to take a toll on her and others on the street.

"It's very hard. I've slept myself out in the cold and it is not easy, but God is good," she said. "No one should have to live like that, no one."

The low temps also created icy puddles and caused quite a few problems in the city Thursday.

"We've had some broken water pipes. We also have issues with heaters - with people running their heaters," said Shawn Grizzard, an inspector with the Los Angeles County Fire Department.

Many area residents said they grabbed an extra blanket and turned up the heat. Fire officials want to remind people to be cautious when using space heaters.

"If they tip over, they need to turn off. You don't want the type that stays on all the time, and you don't want to leave them unattended. If you're not in the house, then turn them off," advised Grizzard.

When temps dip this low, don't forget about your pets. Vets say even if they have a fur coat, an extra blanket or a night inside will keep them healthy.

"Please keep your furry friends indoors, okay? Even if it's a big dog, you know, nobody wants to be out in the cold," said Dr. Greg Gallegos.

The frosty weather could damage sensitive plants. Experts advise people to protect their plants with frost tarps, which will keep them 5 to 6 degrees warmer, and bring potted plants indoors if possible.

Fire officials also emphasized the importance of installing carbon monoxide detectors, especially if you have an older heating system in your home.


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