GUILFORD COUNTY, N.C. - It's important to protect the things that matter the most, in the below-freezing temperatures.

The frigid weather is dangerous and potentially costly. So, the things you really want to take care of and the rest of the week: people, pipes, and pets.

Mayor Nancy Vaughan and the city of Greensboro are asking you to donate, so the Interactive Resource Center can help the homeless stay warm.

Here's the IRC's donation wish list:
  • twin-sized or larger blankets and adult cold-weather sleeping bags
  • heavy winter coats sizes M-3X
  • adult male-sized hats, gloves, socks, thermals, hand and foot warmers
  • value-sized coffee, sugar, and creamer and 8-ounce foam cups
  • individually wrapped grab-and-go snacks
  • value-sized high efficiency laundry detergent
  • backpacks, tents and tarps.
Items can be sent directly to the IRC via its Amazon wishlist or dropped off between 8 am and 3 pm weekdays or 8 am to 12 pm weekends.
The YWCA also needs items:
  • Cup of Noodles and instant oatmeal
  • snack cakes, peanut butter crackers, chips, and granola bars
  • pop-top containers of tuna, beans and fresh fruit
  • juice packs and water
Items can be dropped off from 9 am to 5 pm weekdays at the YWCA offices, 1807 E. Wendover Ave.

Another thing you need to check on - your pipes. Greensboro plumbers with Pete Wall Plumbing have been out on dozens of calls daily since the cold snap hit - dealing primarily with busted or frozen pipes.

“It's a very busy time of year with the temperature changing, the ground shifting, pipes are moving – and with a little bit of air added behind this, with the temperatures plummeting like they have been - it makes for a bad recipe,” said Clay Morgan.

To avoid the bad recipe, Morgan says your kitchen water faucet should have a continuous drip, you should open cabinet doors under sinks, especially at night, and close foundation vents.

It also helps to insulate pipes where you can, and Morgan says it's not too late! Plus, in case of emergency know where the main shut off valve is to your water. Plumbers say doing these things could save you potentially hundreds of thousands in repair work.

Last, but not least, take good care of your pets. If you can't bring them inside, the SPCA of the Triad recommends using a microwaveable dog bed to keep your pets warm. But still, it's best to bring them in.

“Unfortunately, it's not against the law for the dogs and cats to be outside. I wish it were but it is not,” said Brenda Overman, head of the SPCA of the Triad, “The best thing for a dog or cat is good food and clean water. For their body temperature, if they have good nutrition, they are going to be able to keep warm.”

Keep this in mind: Veterinarians say once it drops below 20 degrees, pets can suffer from frostbite and hypothermia in a matter of minutes. If you see a pet outside for too long, contact animal control.