With severe cold weather expected over the next several days, the Forest Preserve District is reminding everyone to take precautions to protect themselves and their pets.
The National Weather Service has issued a winter advisory for dangerously cold wind chill temperatures starting at midnight on Saturday, January 13th and continuing through next week. Wind chills of minus 20 degrees to minus 30 degrees can result in frostbite on exposed skin in less than 30 minutes, according to the NWS.
Wind chills are forecast to drop from minus 10 to minus 30 degrees Sunday through Wednesday morning.
“While being outside in nature is good for mental and physical health, sometimes it’s best to err on the side of caution, stay indoors and wait for the weather to improve,” said Cindy Cain, public information officer for the Forest Preserve. “And don’t forget to protect your pets in this type of weather. They are also at risk of frostbite or hypothermia.
Issued by the Illinois Department of Public Health. Tips for staying safe If you must go outside in dangerously cold weather:
- Wear several layers of lightweight clothing instead of one or two layers of heavy clothing. Air between layers of clothing acts as insulation to keep you warm.
- Cover your head. You lose up to 50 percent of your body heat through your head.
- Wear gloves instead of fingerless gloves.
- Cover warm legs and wear heavy socks or two pairs of light socks.
- Wear waterproof shoes or sturdy shoes that give you maximum traction.
- Cover your ears and lower face. The ears, nose, chin and forehead are most susceptible to first bite. Cover your mouth with a scarf to protect your lungs from inhaling the very cold air directly.
Symptoms of hypothermia include shivering, exhaustion. Confusion, hand washing, memory loss, slurred speech and drowsiness.
Frostbite can also occur.
“The skin of a frostbite is whitish and hard, and the area will feel numb rather than painful. According to the IDPH, take immediate action if you notice these symptoms.
And don’t forget to protect your pets in the cold. According to the American Veterinary Medical Association:
- Know the Limits – Be aware of your pet’s tolerance for cold weather and adjust accordingly. Shorten your dog’s walks in very cold weather to protect both of you from weather-related health risks.
- stay inside Cats and dogs should be kept inside during cold weather. It is a common belief that dogs and cats are more resistant to cold weather than people because of their fur, but this is wrong. Like people, cats and dogs are susceptible to frostbite and hypothermia and should generally be kept inside.
- Check Paws: Check your dog’s paws frequently for signs of cold weather injury or damage, such as cracked or bleeding.
- Play Dress Up: If your dog has a short coat or seems bothered by the cold weather, consider a sweater or dog coat. Keep several on hand, so you can use a dry sweater or coat whenever your dog goes outside.
- Recognize problems: If your pet is crying, shaking, looks anxious, slows down or stops moving, seems weak, or starts looking for warm places to bury. , so get them in quickly because they are showing signs of hypothermia. Frostbite is more difficult to detect, and may not be fully recognized until several days after the damage has occurred. If you suspect your pet has hypothermia or frostbite, consult your veterinarian immediately.
For more detailed cold weather tips for pets from the association, Visit the agency’s website..