Let your faucets drip and lots of other advice for super-cold weather

Let your faucets drip and lots of other advice for super-cold weather
Jaylyn VanHouten, shown here in this 2015 photo, fends off the cold with colorful layers while ice skating. The bitter cold in January 2015 led school districts to cancel classes for a day, something that also might occur this week. SARAH HOFFMAN/THE WORLD-HERALD

You’ll need to take precautions to protect your pets, your pipes and yourself from this week’s brutal cold.

A wind-chill warning is in effect for the Omaha area from 6 p.m. Tuesday through noon Wednesday. Wind chills are expected to plunge to 30 or 40 degrees below zero in the coming days.

“The conditions that have been forecast can lead to death or life-altering injury,” Douglas County Health Director Adi Pour said.

Below are some cold-weather tips:

PEOPLE

  • Limit time outside.
  • Dress in loose-fitting, layered clothing. Cover ears, face and hands.
  • If you see redness or white or grayish-yellow skin with an unusual or painful feeling, this may be a sign of frostbite.
  • If you suspect frostbite, stay off of frostbitten digits and warm with body heat or warm (not hot) water.
  • Shivering, confusion, slurred speech, drowsiness, fumbling and exhaustion all can be signs of hypothermia. Babies also may have bright red skin.
  • If you suspect you have hypothermia, seek immediate medical attention.
  • Avoid portable heating devices that are powered by combustible fuel.
  • When traveling, tell friends or family your route and keep your cellphone charged in the event you get lost or stranded.

PETS

  • If possible, keep your pets indoors.
  • If that’s not possible, ensure dog houses are built from wood with a flap opening. Do not use plastic kennels, as they won’t keep cold air away.
  • Face the plastic flap to any dog doors away from the wind.
  • Use straw or hay for warmth. Blankets become wet and moldy.
  • Water bowls freeze, so opt for a heated bowl in sub-freezing temperatures.
  • Call the Nebraska Humane Society at 402-444-7800 extension 1 if you see an animal suffering in the cold.

PIPES

  • If you haven’t already, take garden hoses off the spigot and winterize.
  • Keep your thermostat set at the same temperature throughout the day and night, particularly if you’re leaving town.
  • Insulate any exposed supply lines or pipes in the attic and garage with heat tape or a pipe sleeve.
  • Keep garage doors closed whenever possible.
  • Open cabinet doors under the kitchen and bathroom sink to allow heat to circulate around pipes (but keep chemicals away from kids and pets).
  • When the temperature is freezing, let a little cold water drip from faucets to help keep water moving through pipes.

Sources: Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services, Nebraska Humane Society, Tim Elliott with Big Birge Plumbing in Elkhorn

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