Wind chill could reach -40 this week
Potentially dangerous wind chill temperatures are expected to hit the area this week.
The National Weather Service has issued a Wind Chill Watch, which is in effect from Tuesday evening through Thursday afternoon.
“Wind chills of 20 to 40 below zero possible at times from Tuesday night through Thursday morning,” NWS states. “Frostbite and hypothermia can occur quickly if precautions are not taken.”
The Indiana State Department of Health (ISDH) offers several tips to help Hoosiers plan for the cold.
When heading outdoors, ISDH suggests wearing:
• A hat or hood as most heat is lost through the head;
• A scarf or knit mask to cover face and mouth;
• Sleeves that are snug at the wrist;
• Mittens (they are warmer than gloves);
• Water-resistant coat and boots;
• Several layers of loose-fitting clothing.
“Ensure the outer layer of your clothing is tightly woven, preferably wind resistant, to reduce body-heat loss caused by wind. Wool, silk, or polypropylene inner layers of clothing will hold more body heat than cotton. Most important, stay dry as wet clothing chills the body rapidly,” ISDH warns. “Excess perspiration will increase heat loss, so remove extra layers of clothing whenever you feel too warm. Do not ignore shivering as it is an important first sign that the body is losing heat. Persistent shivering is a signal to return indoors.”
ISDH also offered additional tips to stay warm -- and safe -- indoors.
• Use fireplace, wood stoves, or other combustion heaters only if they are properly vented to the outside;
• Never use a charcoal or gas grill indoors—the fumes are deadly;
• Never leave lit candles unattended;
• Keep as much heat as possible inside your home;
• Check the temperature in your home often during severely cold weather;
• Eat well-balanced meals to help you stay warmer.
“Misuse of portable heating equipment can lead to fire or dangerous levels of carbon monoxide. Take precautions to ensure you are heating your home safely and that you have a working carbon monoxide detector,” the ISDH website states.
The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA) reminds pet owners that if it’s too cold for the human, it’s too cold for the pet.
“If left outdoors, pets can freeze, become disoriented, lost, stolen, injured or killed,” according to ASPCA.org.
The organization also offered other tips to keep dogs safe during these extreme winter conditions.
ASPCA urges pet owners not to shave dogs down during the winter, as the longer coat keeps the pet warmer.
“If your dog is long-haired, simply trim him to minimize the clinging ice balls, salt crystals and de-icing chemicals that can dry his skin, and don’t neglect the hair between his toes. If your dog is short-haired, consider getting him a coat or sweater with a high collar or turtleneck with coverage from the base of the tail to the belly,” the website states.
The organization said it is important to pay close attention to your pet’s feet. For example, wash and dry your dog’s feet and stomach to remove ice, salt and chemicals. ASPCA also urges pet owners to check for cracks in paw pads or redness between the toes. The organization suggested massaging petroleum jelly or another paw protectant on their feet before going outside to protect them from salt and chemicals.
You should also bathe your pet as little as possible during cold spells.
“Washing too often can remove essential oils and increase the chance of developing dry, flaky skin. If your pooch must be bathed, ask your vet to recommend a moisturizing shampoo and/or rinse,” ASPCA states.
It is also beneficial to feed dogs a little more during cold weather months, as pets burn extra energy to try to stay warm during the winter.
“Make sure your companion animal has a warm place to sleep, off the floor and away from all drafts. A cozy dog or cat bed with a warm blanket or pillow is perfect,” ASPCA states.
If your dog has to stay outside during the cold, ASPCA says to make sure the pet has an insulated and waterproof dog house and access to fresh water.
“Never leave your dog outside during a snowstorm or inclement weather including sleet, ice, snow, wind, or extreme cold,” ASPCA states.