TALLAHASSEE – The Florida Division of Emergency Management (FDEM) reminds residents and visitors to practice fire and cold weather safety through this weekend, as the first widespread freeze of the season is expected Friday night into Saturday morning. Temperatures may fall below 30 degrees in some inland North Florida locations. A high risk of rip currents is also present along the Gulf Coast in the panhandle and from Pinellas through Collier counties. Beachgoers should heed instructions from officials and pay attention to all warning flags when on the beach.

“A cold front that pushed through North Florida Thursday brought the coldest air of the season behind it,” said FDEM Deputy State Meteorologist Michelle Palmer. “Wind chills may be near 20 degrees and all Floridians should practice proper fire and cold weather safety, as temperatures will be cooler than we have experienced yet this season.”

All Floridians should use proper precautions when using indoor heating sources to reduce the risk of fire, and remain aware of local weather forecasts to ensure a safe and happy holiday weekend. Be sure to check your local weather and heed all instructions from local officials regarding cold weather, fire and rip current safety.

Freeze warnings are in place for most of north and central Florida through Saturday morning, and wind chill advisories are in effect for most of east central and southeast Florida. Freeze watches extend into Sunday morning for north Florida. A red flag warning indicating a high risk of wildfires is in place for all of the state.

Floridians should remember the “Five P’s” of cold weather safety: Protecting People, Protecting Plants, Protecting Pets, Protecting Exposed Pipes and Practicing Fire Safety. To stay cozy and safe during cold weather, remember these safety tips:

- Stay indoors and use safe heating sources.
 - When outdoors, stay dry and wear multiple layers of loose-fitting, warm clothing.
 - Plug space heaters directly into wall outlets. Use of extension cords may lead to circuit overload and cause a fire.
 - Keep space heaters away from drapery, furniture or other flammable material. Do not leave space heaters unattended.
 - Do not use a stove or oven as a heat source, as they are ineffective and can be dangerous.
 - Never use grills as an indoor heating source. Charcoal and propane emit carbon monoxide gas and are not suitable for indoor use.
 - Candles are unsafe and ineffective as a heat source. Never leave lit candles unattended.
 - When using a fireplace, make sure it is properly vented and that the chimney is cleaned periodically to avoid flash fires.
 - Do not burn anything in the fireplace other than firewood and do not leave a fire burning when going to sleep.
 - Install smoke detectors and make sure they work. Install a carbon monoxide detector if you have any gas appliances.

To learn more about severe weather in Florida, and to Get A Plan!, visit www.FloridaDisaster.org, and follow FDEM on Twitter at @FLSERT, on Facebook at www.Facebook.com/FloridaSERT and on Google+ at FLSERT.