Tips for Surviving Extreme Cold
The National Weather Service has released the Hazardous Weather Outlook for Sheridan County through the weekend and into next week. They predict bitter cold temperatures as another shot of Arctic air moves through the region.
Here is some information on keeping humans, pets, and livestock safe in extreme cold conditions.
When venturing outside dress in layers. More specifically adults and children should wear:
• a hat
• a scarf or knit mask to cover face and mouth
• sleeves that are snug at the wrist
• mittens (they are warmer than gloves)
• water-resistant coat and boots
• several layers of loose-fitting clothing
With these bitterly cold temperatures, frostbite can cause damage to exposed skin in as little as 10 minutes. Most commonly affected areas include the nose, ears, cheeks, chin, fingers, or toes. Frostbite can cause permanent injury, and in severe cases, may lead to amputation.
Pets also need to be prepared for this type of weather.
Dr. Garry Gotfredson said more than likely, pets will only want to be outside long enough to do their business.
“When you get these long periods of freezing cold weather, they pretty much have the same susceptibility to frostbite and hypothermia as we do. So, they should be kept inside, period,” said Gotfredson.
Tips of ears, tails, and feet are the most vulnerable body parts for animals. He said puppies, older dogs, and those with health issues are more sensitive to cold-weather maladies.
“And one thing people don’t realize, is that in this kind of weather, they burn more calories to try to stay warm,” Gotfredson said.
Be sure they have additional food and water. And make sure they have a place to get up off the ground if they are sheltered outdoors.
For both people and pets, it’s best to minimize time spent outside in this type of weather, he added.
When it comes to livestock, they can generally tolerate cold temperatures, but wind, rain, or snow will require a greater expenditure of calories. With that in mind, be sure they have a way to get out of the elements, especially the wind. Blankets can help protect horses, but a structural shelter with proper ventilation and dry bedding is the best method of protection. If you do blanket your horses, be sure to check underneath often for signs of injury, infection, or malnutrition.
Keep ice to a minimum to prevent injury and remember to keep driveways clear so veterinarians and farriers can access your animals. Prevent mud management issues in the winter with proper preparation, whether that’s through use of material like gravel, sand, or woodchips, or through other methods.
Consider the amount and quality of feed. Besides taking shelter, livestock keep warm by expending energy, which means they need to consume enough calories to heat themselves. Consider talking with your veterinarian to develop a feed plan that meets your animals’ nutritional needs. This may mean increasing the amount of feed available to your animals, and/or increasing the quality of feed. Very young, very old, or sick animals will typically have additional nutritional needs during the winter compared to healthy, middle-aged animals.
Ensure access to water. It is crucial that your herd has access to fresh and unfrozen water. Tank heaters or heated buckets can help keep water at a temperature your animals are more comfortable drinking. Livestock will not consume adequate amounts of water if it is near freezing, and consuming enough water is important to your animals’ health and well-being in winter months.