People, pets, plumbing ... here are winter storm how-to-protect lists, featuring many safety tips.
Animals get cold too. Here’s how to help keep your pets warm and safe in the winter weather.
Pets, like humans, can suffer from hypothermia, with symptoms including sluggishness, intense shivering, and shortness of breath. If it’s below 30 degrees, don't have your pets outside more than 20 minutes.
Try to keep animals indoors, but if that’s not possible, a sturdy dog house that’s elevated off the ground and facing away from the wind may be sufficient. The smaller the house the better to hold heat. But it should be large enough for dogs to stand and turn around comfortably.
Hay, blankets, or towels will keep in heat and keep moisture out better than loose straw. Cats should stay inside too, though you can buy cat houses.
Water dishes should be plastic instead of metal, and water should be refreshed throughout the day so it does not freeze. Give your pet more food than normal, because they burn more calories to maintain body heat.
Also, be aware of substances on the ground used to melt ice. Salt can irritate and get trapped in paws, while ice-melting agents and antifreeze can be toxic and ingested if an animal licks its feet.
Residents who see an animal outside for long periods of time without shelter, food, or water should call the Toledo Area Humane Society at 419-891-9777.
The following information is from the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention:
Frostbite, an injury caused by freezing, causes a loss of feeling and color in affected areas, most often the nose, ears, cheeks, chin, fingers, or toes. It can permanently damage affected areas, even leading to amputation in severe cases.
The first sign of frostbite is redness or pain in the skin area. Someone experiencing those signs should get out of the cold and protect exposed skin. Other signs indicating frostbite include a white or grayish-yellowish coloring of the skin, a firm or waxy feeling on the skin, or numbness.
Often times, frostbite victims are unaware until someone else points it out because tissue becomes numb.
Seek medical care if you show signs of frostbite. Check to see if the victim shows signs of hypothermia, a more serious medical condition that requires emergency medical assistance.
Warning signs of hypothermia from the Area Office of Aging of Northwest Ohio:
● Shivering, exhaustion
● Confusion, fumbling hands, trouble walking
● Memory loss, slurred speech
If the victim does show signs of hypothermia, get the victim into a warm room as soon as possible. Put affected areas in warm, but not hot, water. If that is not possible, warm the affected area, possibly with body heat, such as with armpits.
Do not massage frostbitten areas or rub with snow, which can cause more damage. So can walking on frostbitten toes or feet. Also, do not use a heating pad, lamp, or heat from a stove, fireplace, or radiator, as affected areas are numb and can be easily burned.
The Area Office on Aging of Northwest Ohio has coordinated with the American Red Cross of Northwest Ohio to open warming centers Monday night at the East Toledo Family Center, 1020 Varland Ave., and the Margaret Hunt Senior Center, 2121 Garden Lake Parkway.
The office urged seniors not to go out, saying the warming centers are available for those who “absolutely have to.”
The office asked community members to check on older adults, especially those who live alone.
Winter dangers for the elderly include broken bones from falls, breathing problems, and hypothermia. The office of aging suggested the following precautions for older residents:
● Set indoor temperatures to activity level, health, and medications.
● Wear appropriate clothes for even a short walk, such as to the mailbox. Wear a coat, hat, scarf and gloves, as a fall or locked door can leave you exposed to the cold.
● Look out for ice.
● Avoid drinking alcohol, as it lowers the body’s ability to keep warm.
● Try to stay indoors. Reschedule activities if possible.
For your home:
Winterizing your home doesn’t just protect your property; it can keep you safe too.
From ready.gov, a joint U.S. Department of Homeland Security and the Federal Emergency Management Agency:
● Caulk and weather-strip doors and windows, and install storm windows or cover windows with plastic.
● Insulate pipes with insulation or newspapers and plastic.
● Allow faucets to drip slightly to avoid freezing, as running water helps prevent pipes from freezing.
● Vent fuel-burning equipment outside. Don’t operate a generator indoors.
● Keep a fire extinguisher on hand if you use an alternate heating source.
From the American Red Cross:
● Never use a stove or oven to heat a home.
● Place space heaters on level, hard surfaces, and keep anything flammable at least three feet away. Make sure the space heater is off when left unattended.
● Install carbon monoxide alarms in your home, preferably in central locations on every level and near sleeping areas. Move quickly to fresh air locations or open a window and call emergency personnel if the alarm sounds.
● Open kitchen and bathroom cabinet doors to let warm air circulate around plumbing.
● If pipes freeze, keep the faucet open. Apply heat to the pipe, but don’t use an open flame device. Try a hair dryer or heating pad, instead.