Winter Weather Preparedness Week
November 15 - 21, 2020
Winter Weather Preparedness Week
November 15-21 is Winter Weather Preparedness Week in Illinois and Cook County’s Department of Emergency Management and Regional Security is providing tips to keep residents safe and healthy. Winter weather brings its own set of challenges and can produce dangerous conditions so it’s important to be prepared as the temperature begins to dip. Please see below for information and activities to help your family prepare for wintry weather.
Winter Weather Preparedness & Spotter Training Webinar
As part of Winter Weather Preparedness Week in Illinois, the National Weather Service (NWS) is offering a new Winter Weather Preparedness and Spotter Training webinar! Participants will learn about:
- Typical winter weather in our area
- Winter weather science
- Winter weather safety
- NWS winter weather products
- Measuring and reporting snow/ice
- 2021 winter outlook
The session will be conducted virtually on Thursday, November 19 from 6:30-8:00 p.m. CST. Registration is required and sessions are free and open to everyone.
Tips to Prepare for Cold Weather
There are many things you can begin doing today to ensure you are prepared when cold weather strikes. Outlined below are tips to help familiarize yourself with the appropriate steps to ensure you are prepared this winter:
- Knowing when to expect cold weather by checking the forecast as part of your regular routine. A good website to reference is weather.gov or you can refer to your favorite weather app, radio or TV station.
- If the weather is going to be cold, adjust your schedule if possible to avoid being outside during the coldest part of the day. Early mornings are usually when the temperature is the lowest.
- Ensure pets and farm animals have plenty of food and water and are not overly exposed to extreme cold. Also, take precautions to make sure your water pipes don’t freeze and know the temperature threshold of your plants and crops.
- Make sure your vehicle has at least a half tank of gas during extreme cold situations to ensure you can stay warm if you become stranded.
- Dress for the outdoors even if you don’t think you’ll be out much.
- Lastly, update your winter car survival kit with the following items:
- Jumper cables
- First aid kit
- Baby gear
- Non-perishable food items
- Gallon of water
- Basic toolkit
- Pet supplies
- Cat litter or sand
- Ice scraper
- Blankets or sleeping bags
- Spare cell phone charger
Read more about the National Weather Service’s cold weather safety tips here: https://www.weather.gov/safety/cold
Cold Weather Safety Tips for Pets and Animals
Winter weather brings a new set of hazards for our furry friends. Dry, cold winter air, freezing rain, snow and ice can cause a variety of health issues for pets and animals. The Humane Society of the United States has put together five helpful tips to keep your pets and animals alike safe and healthy this winter:
- Keep Pets Inside and Limit Time Outdoors – Keep your pets inside with you and your family. Under no circumstances should pet cats be left outdoors, even if they roam outside during other seasons. If your dog is outdoors much of the day for any reason, they must be protected by a dry, draft-free shelter that is large enough to allow them to move comfortably, but small enough to hold body heat. Pets who spend a lot of time outdoors need more food in the winter because keeping warm depletes energy. Routinely check their water dish to ensure it’s not frozen and always opt for plastic verses metal water dishes to ensure their tongues do not stick and freeze to their dish.
- Bundle Up! – No matter the outdoor temperature, wind chill can threaten a pet’s life. Exposed skin on noses, ears and paw pads are at risk for frostbite and hypothermia during cold snaps. Short-haired dogs often feel more comfortable wearing a coat or sweater.
- Remove Common Poisons – Antifreeze is a deadly poison, but it has a sweet taste that may attract animals and children. Clean up antifreeze spills immediately and keep it out of reach. Dogs are also at particular risk of salt poisoning in winter due to the rock salt used on sidewalks and other walkways and often ingest this harmful material when licking their paws. Consider putting booties on your dog before heading out on a walk or wiping paws with a damp towel after going outside. If your dog ingests rock salt, call a veterinarian immediately.
- Protect Outdoor Animals – Outdoor cats who are owned pets or community cats in your area need protection from the elements in addition to food and water during winter months. Consider making your own cat shelter quickly and easily with a plastic tub. Cars are also hazardous to small animals and wildlife who may crawl up under the hood to stay warm. To avoid injuring hidden animals, bang on your car’s hood or honk the horn a few times to scare them away before starting your engine. If there are deer in your area, wait to string lights until after the first week of December and only on trees over six inches in diameter.
- Horse Care – Ensure your horses have access to a barn or a three-sided run-in so they can escape the wind and cold. Blankets will help keep horses warm and dry especially if there is rain or snow in the forecast. Always give your horses access to unfrozen water. Heated buckets or water heaters can be used to make sure their water doesn’t freeze. Also, feed your horses more forage – unlimited amounts if possible during extreme cold. This will help your horse create heat and regulate their body temperatures.
- Speak Out – If you encounter a pet left in the cold, politely let the owner know you’re concerned. Some people genuinely don’t know the risk that cold weather poses to their pets or livestock. If someone you raise these concerns with responds poorly or continues to neglect their animals, follow The Humane Society of the United States’ steps on reporting winter neglect.
American Red Cross Pet Resources
The American Red Cross also has a helpful app called ‘Pet First Aid’ that can be downloaded from the Apple App Store, Google Play or Amazon Marketplace. This app provides critical first aid info for your pets right at your fingertips.
They have also put together a first aid supply checklist for pets here: https://www.redcross.org/content/dam/redcross/atg/PDF_s/Preparedness___Disaster_Recovery/Disaster_Preparedness/Home_Fire/First_Aid_Kit_for_Pets.pdf