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Monday, November 10, 2014

Are you ready for a three dog night?

Have you ever heard of a “three dog night”? No, not the musical group from the 70s but stories from surviving extreme cold.

Back in the day during extreme cold people would allow their dogs to sleep in bed with them and the colder it got the more dogs they needed. A really, really cold night was often labeled “a three dog night” because you would need at least three dogs to stay warm.

Well, over the next few days it looks like at least one of the nights will be a three dog night. It has been a while since we Coloradans have experienced the extreme cold blasts, well several months anyway, and some of us may need a quick safety refresher so that we can effectively weather the storm.

We thought it would be a good time to provide some winter safety tips.
Make sure your home is ready for the cold. Disconnect hoses and cover exposed pipes.
Have your furnace and fire place checked and cleaned before turning them on. Remember that carbon monoxide is a killer so you want your heating devices to be working properly.
Be very careful with open flames and space heaters. As temperatures fall the number of home fires caused by unsafe heating devices goes up.
Don't forget to dress according to the wind chill index. This is especially true for the young and the elderly. They can develop hypothermia fast if they are not protected. Click for a printable wind chill chart from the National Weather Service.
Don't forget about your pets. They may have fur coats but it won't keep out extreme cold. You may want to bring them inside.
Make sure your car is ready for extreme cold. Check batteries, antifreeze and keep your fuel tank more than half full.
Keep an emergency kit in your car with food supplies, water and flash lights and a first aid kit.
Don’t depend on your car heater to protect you. If you get stranded and you are not dressed properly you might experience the phenomena known as hypothermia. That's when your body temperature drops sharply and your internal heater can’t keep up. Uncontrollable shivering, dizziness, and slurred speech are all danger signs when you are exposed to the cold.
Speaking of slurred speech and dizziness, don’t think that alcohol will keep you warm. The opposite is the case as alcohol dulls your senses and prevents your body from making appropriate adjustments to ward off the cold.
Check on your neighbor, family and friends. Make sure they have the ways and means to be safe in times of extreme cold.

These are just a few quick safety tips for surviving winter cold. We have lots more on our web site www.redcross.org/prepare. We even have a downloadable checklist for winter storms, power outages frostbite and hypothermia at www.redcross.org/prepare/disaster-safety-library.

So, huddle up and stay warm and just to be fair you can also make it a “three cat night”.

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