MIAMI (WSVN) - Near freezing temperatures are set to hit Florida on Sunday, and now South Florida officials are warning residents on safe ways to stay warm.

The polar plunge headed for South Florida this weekend will lead to most of Miami-Dade and Broward areas experiencing temperatures in the upper 30s, the lowest in over a decade, while most of the Florida Keys will be in the 40s.

“I moved down from North Carolina trying to get away from this weather,” said local resident Caleigh Pernosky.

“I canceled golf on Sunday because I don’t want to golf in it,” said Fort Lauderdale resident Monique Walsh.

Friday night, 7News cameras captured people already in jackets and sweaters in Miami’s Wynwood neighborhood.

“South Florida: bundle up,” said area resident Jerry Coleman. “I heard it’s supposed to be in the 30s, man. I love it.”

But not everyone shared Coleman’s excitement.

“It’s crazy. For Miami, that’s crazy,” said Miami resident Lauren Goncalves.

Miami-Dade Fire Rescue officials advise to remember the four p’s:

  • people
  • pets
  • plants
  • protection against fire

Residents are advised to dress in layers of loose-fitting, warm clothing when heading outdoors and consider wearing hats that cover their ears.

“This is the only jacket I own,” said Goncalves as she showed 7News her light-colored jacket.

Officials said another priority is to check on those who are vulnerable.

“This is especially important with children and the elderly,” said Erika Benitez, Miami-Dade Officer of Emergency Management. “They are the most susceptible and vulnerable to cold weather. What we suggest, if you have elderly neighbors, be sure to check on them.”

Pet owners should also try to keep their furry friends warm.

Pet sweaters, or even old sweaters their owners have, could be used to keep them safe.

“If it’s too cold outside for you, it’s going to be too cold for your pet, especially a pet that has a short coat,” said Cherie Wachter with the Humane Society of Broward County. “They’re going to get cold a lot faster than a dog like a husky that has a thick undercoat.”

The Hialeah Fire Department warned space heaters should be kept at least three feet away from anything that could catch fire, like curtains or bed sheets.

“As temperatures drop, people may be forced to use heating equipment. If this is the case for you in your home, one of the most important considerations is to protect your home against fires,” said Benitez.

Generators should also be kept 25 feet away from homes.

The department advises South Floridians to not look for any creative ways to stay warm.

Ovens are only meant to be used for cooking.

“Your oven cannot be used as a heater,” said David Rodriguez with the Hialeah Fire Department. “Some people tend to turn the oven on to create heat inside the house. That is a huge, huge no-no. That can build up carbon monoxide in your house, and your house can catch fire. That is very, very dangerous.”

Rodriguez also reminded residents to prepare ahead of Sunday.

“Turn your heaters on during the day, get it ready, get all that dust out because it’s just never used,” he said.

Some tourists, however, don’t mind the chilly weather.

“There’s a snow and ice storm at home,” said tourist Sarah Treadway. “I literally flew in here with leather leggings on and Chuck Taylors and a crop top fur coat. While I was getting my rental I was like, ‘I need to go to the bathroom and put my sundress on,’ so this is hot. This feels good. This is wonderful, coming from the mountains.”

“It’s like warm, it’s nice, kind of a surprise,” said tourist Cat Johnson.

Miami Beach resident Leslie Kenny has called South Florida home for the past five years and is already feeling the change in weather.

“I’m prepared to stay indoors, I think,” she said. “I’m not used to it getting this cold in South Florida, but I’m used to the cold weather from the UK, and this is something similar.”

She is also prepared to keep her dog warm.

“He’ll be wearing his coat over the weekend, so he’ll have his jacket on, and he’ll be staying cozy indoors,” Kenny said.

“I don’t remember it this cold. I kept my stuff from North Carolina, brought it down, and I’m pulling it out of the closet now,” said Pernosky.

“We don’t really have a plan. I mean, I guess it’s survive. That’s it,” said Gabriella Shepard. “As somebody who lived in Florida for 20 years, 30 degrees is like the coldest I’ve ever experienced.”

When it comes to plants, potted plants should be brought indoors, and outdoor plants and trees should be kept watered.

Jeny Sod & Nursery in South Miami-Dade will be storing smaller plants and more vulnerable plants inside.

“It’s better to bring all the small ones in, and the bigger plants, if they can’t bring those in, they could just cover it with some tarps,” said Alexandra Tan with Jeny Sod & Nursery. “If you have any succulents, we would put Styrofoam cups over it to cover those because those are also very vulnerable in the cold weather.”

Tan also advised watering grass and plants at night will keep them from freezing.

The frigid forecast will also be too much for reptiles. Animal experts advised to watch out for falling iguanas.

“They get stiff, and they’ll lose their grip on whatever branch they’re hanging on,” said Blake Wilkins, co-owner of Redline Iguana Removal.

Wilkins said they will be running their full crew on Sunday and expecting calls.

“Put [iguanas] in a crate. Put it in something they can’t escape from when you’re driving,” he said. “If you’ve never handled animals before, I suggest calling someone like us or bringing them somewhere for them to deal with.”

Broward County officials on Friday declared a two-day cold weather emergency from 6 p.m. on Saturday to 10 a.m. on Sunday. Shelter information is as follows:

The Salvation Army
1445 West Broward Blvd.
Fort Lauderdale, FL 33312

The South Homeless Assistance Center
2056 Scott Street
Hollywood, FL 33020

Broward Partnership Pompano Beach Center
1700 Blount Road
Pompano Beach, FL 33069

The Homeless Trust in Miami-Dade Count has activated its cold weather emergency plan. For more information about shelters, call the Homeless Trust Helpline at 1-877-994-4357 or 305-375-2273.

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