Sheriff: Prepare for the worst to get through bitterly cold weather
Hopefully, everyone had an enjoyable Christmas and New Year’s. From a law enforcement perspective, it was fairly quiet and we appreciate the many good choices and sound judgment which made this possible.
As I write this column, we are in the grips of some bitter arctic weather.
Some of the most common calls during these times are for animal welfare and the concerns of travelers or neighbors regarding those animals they see which are kept outside year-round.
While each situation is unique, and many of the times the animals do have their basic needs met, it is important for animal owners to know the effects of cold weather on their specific pets and what actions should be taken to keep them from suffering the effects of cold weather.
For those on the road: If you are traveling, make sure you have a winter emergency kit in your vehicle. Items to include in the kit are candles and matches, a flashlight, pocket knife, snacks, a cell phone adapter, a blanket and extra clothing.
Also, if you haven’t done it already, get your vehicle in for a tune-up and a check of your tires.
Health risks: With wind chills of 20 to 35 degrees below zero, there is an increased risk of frostbite and hypothermia. If you must venture outdoors, make sure you wear a hat and gloves. Frostbite can happen in less than 30 minutes of exposure to those conditions.
Frostbite symptoms include a loss of feeling and a white or pale appearance in fingers, toes, ear tips and tip of the nose. Limit your time outside. If you see these signs, seek medical care immediately.
Hypothermia is also a danger in these conditions. That is when your body temperature drops below 95 degrees. Warning signs include uncontrollable shivering, disorientation, slurred speech and drowsiness. Again, limit your outdoor activity and seek medical care if you detect these symptoms.
Never run a gasoline or propane heater or a grill (gas or charcoal) inside your home or an unventilated garage. Any heating system that burns fuel will produce carbon monoxide. Use a battery-powered detector where you have fuel-burning devices but no electric outlets, such as in tents, cabins, RVs, and boats with enclosed cabins.
Never run a car in an enclosed space. If a vehicle is running, you must have a door open to the outside.
Generators should be run at a safe distance from the home. Never run a generator in the home or garage, or right next to windows or doors.
Breathing in carbon monoxide displaces the oxygen in the blood and can cause death within minutes at high levels. Symptoms of overexposure to carbon monoxide are often mistaken for the flu and include headaches, fatigue, dizziness, shortness of breath/chest pain, nausea/vomiting, and confusion.
If you experience any of these symptoms, or your carbon monoxide detector sounds an alarm, head outside immediately for fresh air and call 911.
It is my hope that worst of the cold weather is behind us, but it is better to be prepared for the worst and experience the best, rather than to prepare for the best only to be caught off guard by the worst. Stay safe!
Matt Joski is Kewaunee County Sheriff.
This article originally appeared on Green Bay Press-Gazette: Sheriff: Prepare for the worst to get through bitterly cold weather