SAFETY TIPS Before Freezing Temperatures Arrive • Prepare for possible isolation in your home by having sufficient heating fuel; regular fuel sources may be cut off. • Insulate pipes with insulation or newspapers and plastic and allow faucets to drip a little during cold weather to avoid freezing. • Learn how to shut off water valves in case a pipe bursts. • Have your vehicle serviced to ensure it is prepared for the winter season. • Place a winter emergency kit in every vehicle that includes: a shovel; windshield scraper and small broom; flashlight; battery-powered radio; extra batteries; water; snack food; matches; extra hats, socks and mittens; first aid kit with pocket knife; necessary medications; blankets; tow chain or rope; road salt and sand; booster cables; emergency flares; fluorescent distress flag.
During Freezing Temperatures • Stay indoors. If you must go outside, dress in layers of loose fitting, lightweight clothing. Wear a hat that covers your ears. Wear mittens and cover your mouth with a scarf to protect your lungs. Wear waterproof, insulated boots to keep your feet warm and dry and to maintain your footing in ice and snow. • Keep dry. Change wet clothing frequently to prevent a loss of body heat. Wet clothing loses all of its insulating value and transmits heat rapidly. • Watch for signs of frostbite such as the loss of feeling and white or pale appearance in extremities such as finger, toes, ear lobes and the tip of your nose. • Drive only if it is absolutely necessary. If you must drive, travel in the day, don't travel alone and keep others informed of your schedule. Decrease your speed and leave plenty of room to stop the vehicle on icy roads. • If trapped in your car, pull off of the highway and turn on your hazard lights. Remain in your vehicle where rescuers are most likely to find you. Run the engine and heater about 10 minutes each hour to keep warm. When the engine is running, open a downwind window slightly for ventilation and periodically clear snow from the exhaust pipe. This will protect you from possible carbon monoxide poisoning. • Exercise to maintain body heat, but avoid overexertion. Drink fluids to avoid dehydration.
After Freezing Temperatures • Listen to your local radio or television station for the latest weather and traffic reports. • Go to a designated shelter if your home loses power or heat during periods of extreme cold. Georgetown County Emergency Management will provide locations IF SHELTERS ARE OPENED. • Check on your animals and bring them indoors, if possible. • Be aware of possible carbon monoxide poisoning, electric shock and fire if using alternative sources for electricity, heating or cooking.
The page also posted a link to the American Veterinary Medical Association's page on Cold Weather Pet Safety, containing vital information for keeping your pets safe and healthy when cold weather strikes.
Here are some of the tips:
Winter wellness: Has your pet had his/her preventive care exam (wellness exam) yet? Cold weather may worsen some medical conditions such as arthritis. Your pet should be examined by a veterinarian at least once a year, and it's as good a time as any to get him/her checked out to make sure (s)he is ready and as healthy as possible for cold weather.
Know the limits: Just like people, pets' cold tolerance can vary from pet to pet based on their coat, body fat stores, activity level, and health. Be aware of your pet's tolerance for cold weather, and adjust accordingly. You will probably need to shorten your dog's walks in very cold weather to protect you both from weather-associated health risks. Arthritic and elderly pets may have more difficulty walking on snow and ice and may be more prone to slipping and falling. Long-haired or thick-coated dogs tend to be more cold-tolerant, but are still at risk in cold weather. Short-haired pets feel the cold faster because they have less protection, and short-legged pets may become cold faster because their bellies and bodies are more likely to come into contact with snow-covered ground. Pets with diabetes, heart disease, kidney disease, or hormonal imbalances (such as Cushing's disease) may have a harder time regulating their body temperature, and may be more susceptible to problems from temperature extremes. The same goes for very young and very old pets. If you need help determining your pet's temperature limits, consult your veterinarian.
Provide choices: Just like you, pets prefer comfortable sleeping places and may change their location based on their need for more or less warmth. Give them some safe options to allow them to vary their sleeping place to adjust to their needs.
Stay inside. Cats and dogs should be kept inside during cold weather. It's a common belief that dogs and cats are resistant than people to cold weather because of their fur, but it's untrue. Like people, cats and dogs are susceptible to frostbite and hypothermia and should be kept inside. Longer-haired and thick-coated dog breeds, such as huskies and other dogs bred for colder climates, are more tolerant of cold weather; but no pet should be left outside for long periods of time in below-freezing weather.
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