Cold calls for added precautions

February 06, 2007|by DAN DEARTH

TRI-STATE - Exposed flesh can freeze in minutes when the temperature gets as cold as it has the last few days, a National Weather Service meteorologist said.

Therefore, it is important to cover any unprotected skin with warm clothing, Dennis Feltgen said.

"Limit your time outdoors," Feltgen said. "And wear a hat, more than 40 percent of heat escaping the body leaves through the head."

The high and low temperatures today are expected to reach 21 and 16 degrees, with the wind chill below zero, according to the National Weather Service. The high Wednesday is supposed to peak at 24 and low could sink to 11. Not until Friday is the temperature expected to climb above freezing.

Feltgen said it is a good idea to wear several layers of clothing rather than one big coat if you go outside. Air acts as an insulator when it gets trapped among the layers of clothes, he said.


In addition, people should drink plenty of water to keep their bodies functioning properly when it's cold, Feltgen said.

Because the body uses a lot of warmth to heat up cold air that gets inhaled, people shouldn't physically exert themselves outside, he said.

Statistics from the National Weather Service show that 27 people died from hypothermia nationwide in 2004. Twenty died of the same thing in 2003. Statistics for 2005 and 2006 were unavailable.

People should take precautions any time the temperature drops below freezing - especially once the mercury sinks into single digits, he said.

"That's when you really have to look out," Feltgen said. "Just realize you need to be covered up. It's going to be a cold week."

Protect animals from the cold

People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals recommends that pet owners do the following things to keep animals warm:

· Keep animals inside, especially puppies, kittens, elderly animals, small animals and dogs with short hair.

· Bang loudly on the hood of your vehicle before starting the engine. Sometimes cats curl up near the engine to stay warm.

· Increase your animal's food rations during the winter because animals burn more calories to maintain body temperature.

· Call the humane society to report strays.

· Wipe off your pet's feet and stomachs after they come in from outside. Salt and other chemicals can collect on fur.

· Use straw bedding in dog houses - rugs and blankets can get wet and freeze.

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