When extreme cold weather hits, it’s not only the grocery stores and their bread-and-milk customers keeping busy. Other businesses also see a spike in activity as consumers struggle to keep themselves, their homes, their pets and their vehicles protected.
At Guntown LP Gas Co., manager Daniel Hines was working up a sweat even in the sub-freezing weather.
He was outside filling portable propane tanks that customers were bringing in steadily, while his two drivers were making their rounds in their 2,200-gallon tanker trucks. Inside the office, the phone was ringing constantly.
“We are covered up,” Hines said. “But that’s job security for us.”
With temperatures in the teens and the wind chill plunging the mercury to near zero, homes and businesses that are heated by propane or natural gas are putting a high demand for services like Guntown LP’s.
“Both our drivers had 20 calls each this morning when they came in, and that’s on top of the regular customers they have to take care of,” Hines said. “We’re filling anywhere from 120-gallon tanks to 1,000-gallon tanks. Some people have more than one tank, too.”
Hines said his drivers normally refill their trucks two or three times a day making their regular runs. Today and tomorrow will be even more hectic.
Meanwhile, at home improvements stores like Lowe’s and Home Depot, customers are doing what they can to protect themselves from the bitter cold.
Both stores were sold out of insulating covers for outside faucets.
Home Depot operations manager Scott Dees said employees and customers were coming up with their own ideas to insulate faucets, including cutting foam boards and duct-taping them over.
And if you were looking for portable heaters, you’re out of luck. Home Depot had no electric heaters left, but had a few patio heaters. At Lowe’s, only a handful of heaters were left.
Store representatives said they expect to see plenty of business in the next few days when things thaw out – pipes will burst and will have to be replaced.
“We see it all the time after a big freeze,” said Lowe’s store manager Phillip Blanchard.
At PetSmart, pets could be made a little more comfy by a couple of nifty items – heated food and water bowls and pet pads – the equivalent of electric blankets for dogs and cats.
Heated pet bowls and pet pads for dogs – and cats, too – are available at PetSmart.
Heather Henry, a pet care specialist at PetSmart, said the pads sell for $39.99.
Also selling well were pillows and dog houses.
And if you already have a kennel or dog house, a good thing to help keep your dogs warm – if you don’t let them inside – is to have plenty of hay or some other kind of filler to help .
Speaking of keeping houses warm, HVAC businesses say it’s too late to find out if your heating system is working like it should. You’ve already found out if it does or not. It’s best get your heating and cooling system checked before the seasons hit. If you wait too long, getting a fix may take longer than you’d like.
But, said Bob Wiley, the owner of Comfort Engineering in Tupelo, that doesn’t mean he and others in the industry won’t be kept busy.
“All in all it hasn’t been too busy yet as far as residential customers,” he said. “That’s not the case with commercial customers.”
As in the summer, it’s good to always have a good, clean filter, Wiley said.
Then there’s keeping your car, truck, van, SUV, etc. in top shape for the winter.
It’s never too late to get the battery, antifreeze and tires checked, said area mechanics.