DDPHE Offers Health and Safety Tips for Upcoming Frigid Weather

Protect yourself and your pets from the arctic cold ~

DENVER — Already cold temperatures will drop to dangerously low levels over the weekend and could pose health and safety concerns. The Denver Department of Public Health & Environment (DDPHE) offers guidance to keep residents and their pets safe and healthy during this time.

Weather forecasts predict Denver will experience at least 72 hours of sub-freezing temperatures this weekend. Low temperatures can lead to a higher risk of hypothermia, frostbite, and carbon monoxide poisoning. Denver residents should take extreme caution during this period.

With this extreme cold pouring into the metro area, DDPHE offers these tips to stay safe:

  • Limit your time outside. If you need to go outside, wear layers of warm clothing, including a hat, scarf, an extra layer of socks, and gloves or mittens (mittens can keep your hands even warmer than gloves).
  • Look for signs of hypothermia and frostbite and seek medical attention immediately.
  • Frostbite causes loss of feeling and color around the face, fingers, and toes. Skin can turn white or grayish-yellow and become firm or waxy. To warm the affected area, soak in warm water or use body heat. Don’t massage or use a heating pad.
  • Hypothermia is an unusually low body temperature accompanied by shivering, confusion, fumbling hands, memory loss, slurred speech, and drowsiness. A temperature below 95 degrees is an emergency. Warm the center of the body first—chest, neck, head, and groin. Keep dry and wrapped in warm blankets, including the head and neck.
  • Prepare for power outages. Gather supplies in case you need to stay home for several days without power. Keep in mind each person’s specific needs, including medication. Have extra batteries for radios and flashlights.
  • In the event of power outage, keep refrigerators and freezers closed. If your power is out for more than four hours discard perishable food like meat, poultry, fish, eggs, and leftovers.
  • Create an emergency supply kit for your car. Include jumper cables, sand, a flashlight, warm clothes, blankets, bottled water, and non-perishable snacks. Keep the gas tank full.
  • Listen for emergency information and alerts.

No Heat Emergency

It is also important to keep yourself safe inside during cold weather.

No heat is considered a residential health emergency. If you are a renter, and your heat goes out, the first step you should take is to notify your landlord or property management company. If they fail to respond or correct the problem in a timely manner, you can file a complaint by calling 3-1-1. A residential health investigator will respond to the complaint during regular business hours. Find additional information at www.denvergov.org/residentialhealth.

Here are some additional tips to help protect yourself and your family during a no-heat emergency:

  • Avoid carbon monoxide poisoning. Only use generators and grills outdoors and away from windows. Never heat your home with a gas stovetop or oven.
  • Dress in layers and keep your blinds, drapes and doors closed to prevent heat from escaping.

Keep pets safe too!

Denver Animal Protection (DAP) reminds residents not to forget the needs of pets during cold weather. While dogs and cats may have fur coats, that’s not enough protection from frigid temperatures. The safest place for your pets is indoors. If your pet must be outside for a longer duration, Denver requires they have adequate outdoor shelter, like a doghouse, that allows the animal to escape the elements.

Other tips to consider for your furry family members:

  • Remove snow, ice, salt and other ice-treatment chemicals from their coats and paws when they come in from the outdoors. This keeps them dry and prevents them from ingesting chemicals.
  • Check for cracks in paw pads or redness between toes. Massaging petroleum jelly into paw pads before going outside can protect from salt and chemical agents.
  • Don’t leave dangerous and potentially lethal chemicals like snow and ice remover or anti-freeze within your pet’s reach.
  • Check under the hood of outdoor vehicles before starting them up. Stray cats often look for refuge in warm engines.

If you see a dog exposed to the dangerous cold without appropriate shelter, call the Denver Animal Protection Dispatch number, 720-913-2080. Failure to protect a pet could lead to a $999 fine, and/or 300 days in jail.

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