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Numbing cold to continue today

January 16, 2009|By HEATHER KEELS

o Watch for winter dangers

HAGERSTOWN -- The salt-whitened sidewalks of downtown Hagerstown were barren Friday, the occasional bundled pedestrian walking briskly to escape the wind as temperatures dropped into the single digits and wind chills dipped below zero.

The low on Friday in Hagerstown was 5 degrees at about 7:44 a.m., according to i4weather.net, the Web site for Greg Keefer's Hagerstown weather station. The city felt its coldest at about 8:28 a.m., when 26 mph winds made for a wind chill of minus 11 degrees, Keefer's records show.

Temperatures rose to about 13 degrees by the afternoon, then fell into the single digits again in the evening. The National Weather Service was predicting a low temperature around 3 degrees overnight.

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The numbing weather is expected to continue today with a high near 22 degrees and a low tonight around 15 degrees, with a chance of snow after midnight, according to NWS.

As temperatures drop, humans aren't the only ones rushing their outdoor trips to limit exposure to the elements. Humane Society of Washington County spokeswoman Katherine Cooker said the staff has been limiting the shelter's dogs to quick bathroom trips instead of letting them play and romp outdoors. Staff also check the dogs' feet to ensure they don't come in with snow-packed paws.

Pet owners should take similar precautions for their pets, Cooker said. The county Humane Society has been "extremely busy" this week responding to calls about pets in danger from the cold weather, she said. Normally, the organization gets about three calls a day, but over a two-day period Wednesday and Thursday, it got 17 calls, she said.

None of the animals needed treatment for their exposure to the cold, but their owners were advised of safety measures to help protect them, Cooker said. Dog houses, especially plastic ones, should be raised off the ground on a pallet with straw or hay underneath and lots of blankets inside, she said. Animals should also have a heated water container to keep their drinking water from freezing, Cooker said. Heated containers are available from farm supply centers such as Tractor Supply Co.

The Humane Society also advises people who park outside to check under their hoods or honk their horns before starting their engines to warn off pets that might have crawled inside to take advantage of the engine's warmth, Cooker said.

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