Dangerous cold coming to Chatham County: People, pets & livestock impacted

Pittsboro, NC – Forecasters are currently predicting 4 to 7 inches of snow by Saturday afternoon, followed by a major arctic blast lasting at least through Wednesday. Temperatures could dip into single digits, and highs may not get above freezing.

Snow projectionsChatham County reminds residents that they should take precautions to protect themselves, pets, livestock, and their homes.

Dennis Streets with the Chatham County Council on Aging reminds residents to check on seniors, those with disabilities, and other vulnerable people. “Make sure that they have sufficient heat in their homes and know how to use it safely, especially if they live alone. Also, make sure that they have ample food.”

The Council on Aging’s Winter Newsletter (pages 10-11) includes more helpful tips for senior in cold, icy weather.  You can find the newsletter on their homepage at:  http://chathamcouncilonaging.org/

If you must be out in freezing weather, avoid doing so during the coldest times of day. Limit strenuous activities when it is at or below freezing. Dress in layers, but remove some if you start to sweat. Cover all exposed skin if you go outside when temperatures near or go below single digits where frostbite can happen quickly.

Recommended clothing items include: mittens rather than gloves, long underwear made for cold weather, thick socks or layers of socks, and a warm hat or scarf that covers as much of your head and neck as possible.

Drink warm beverages with NO alcohol or caffeine. You also should eat warm foods with higher calories than you normally do to generate body heat.

For more tips on prevention and treatment of hypothermia and frostbite, visit: http://emergency.cdc.gov/disasters/winter/index.asp

Dogs and Cats

“With lows expected to drop into the single-digits this weekend, it is important to remember to protect your pets from the cold,” cautions Alan Canady, animal services director for Chatham County. “No pets should be left outside for long periods of time in below-freezing weather. Elderly, juvenile, and diseased animals are particularly at risk for cold-related injuries or death.”

If possible, bring outside pets inside or at least provide shelter in a garage or shed where they can get some heat. If they are outside for extended time, make sure they have a small, dry shelter protected from the wind with straw or cedar shavings.

Remember that water bowls will freeze quickly, so change water often.  A major caution: antifreeze and other chemicals used to clear ice and snow can be very tasty to pets, but also very deadly.  Wash their paws if they walk across areas treated with salt and chemicals.

More great tips can be found at:  www.avma.org/public/PetCare/Pages/Cold-weather-pet-safety.aspx

Horses and Livestock:

Horses also need access to a barn or other shelter. Blankets will help protect them. Like other animals, they need access to unfrozen water.

Livestock owners need to provide extra nutrition, plenty of good bedding, and protection from winds and moisture.

A great resource on caring for farm animals in the cold can be found at:  www.motherearthnews.com/homesteading-and-livestock/animals-in-winter-zm0z91zkon

Indoor Precautions

Space heaters come with instructions to ensure that they do not cause a fire or carbon monoxide problems. Please follow them. They should be at least three feet away from anything flammable. For more information on the safe use of portable heaters, visit: energy.gov/energysaver/articles/portable-heaters

Fireplaces also require precautions. The biggest dangers with wood-burning fireplaces are dirty chimneys, sparks and rolling logs. For gas fireplaces, proper ventilation is the main concern. More information can be found at: static.hpba.org/fileadmin/factsheets/product/FS_FireplaceSafety.pdf

Never use a kitchen stove or oven to heat the home. They are not designed for this and can create major safety hazards.

Household Plumbing:

To avoid frozen waterlines, shut off irrigation systems at the main valve, disconnect and drain outside water hoses, insulate exposed plumbing, close all exterior doors to unheated areas, and leave a sink running just a bit on the coldest nights.

For more information on protecting pipes, visit redcross.org/prepare/disaster/winter-storm/preventing-thawing-frozen-pipes