SAVANNAH, Ga. (WSAV) — As a strong storm system treks along the East Coast this weekend, extremely cold conditions are expected in the Southeast. Our lows in the Savannah area this Sunday will be in the lower 20s.

This will be the coldest air mass to move into the region in four years. The low temperature on Jan. 4, 2018, was just 19°F at Savannah-Hilton Head International Airport. Our forecast for this Sunday, Jan. 30, is just 23°F for Savannah.

Temperatures forecast for the Coastal Empire and Lowcountry are dangerous or deadly if you do not take proper precautions.

To stay safe, remember to protect the four “Ps”: People, pets, pipes and plants.

People

When temperatures outside are forecast to be below freezing, hypothermia can set in very quickly. Our forecast is for temperatures in the lower 20s, and hypothermia can set in as little as 5 minutes.

Hypothermia is when your body temperature drops below 95°F. At this point, bodily functions begin to slow down or stop in order to conserve heat.

If you have to be outdoors, wear extra layers and a jacket. A hat and gloves will also slow down the heat loss from your body.

In the home, use the heat and extra blankets. If you must use a space heater, be sure it is not plugged into an extension cord or located to anything that is flammable. Winter house fires are often caused by improper use of space heaters.

If you can not get enough heat into your home, consider staying at another place for the night, such as with friends and family or even a hotel.

Also, check on your neighbors — especially the elderly, who may not have access to proper heat.

Pets

If you’re cold, your pets are cold. Just like for humans, cold weather for many animals can be dangerous. Outdoor pets should be brought into the warmth of your home or garage.

Smaller dogs and cats are more at risk of being adversely affected by cold or freezing conditions.

Precaution to protect farm animals should be taken as well to keep the cold weather out of barns and other housing.

Pipes

When temperatures are below freezing, water pipes in a house or mobile home become susceptible to freezing. We do not often have to worry about this in southeast Georgia or the Lowcountry, however, this can create a bigger mess than you may think.

As water freezes into ice, it expands considerably. Inside of a pipe, the water has nowhere to expand into, so the pipe bursts. Running water out of the broken pipes can destroy the inside of a home quickly and it becomes an expensive repair.

Mobile home pipes can more easily freeze than in a built structure. This is because the pipes often run below the floor, which is elevated above the ground, easily exposing the pipes to the freezing air.

Exposed pipes should be insulated to help keep them just above freezing.

You should also keep the water flowing inside the pipe. Even a constant and steady drip from faucets will prevent the water in the pipes from freezing during extreme cold.

Plants

Many plants, especially perennials and nonnative plants, are at risk of damage from subfreezing temperatures.

If you can bring any plants indoors, do so. Other plants that are in the ground or too big to bring inside should be covered with light blankets. These will protect them from the wind, and the blanket itself can be enough to keep the air directly around the plants just above 32°F, which is the freezing point.

It should be noted that in a hard freeze (28° or colder) like we are expecting in the Coastal Empire and Lowcountry, keeping plants and crops safe becomes more difficult.

Many plants and crops will be damaged or destroyed in hard freeze conditions.