Cold Weather Safety

a thermometer sitting in snow

Severe winter weather, as well as strong wind and cold temperatures that create dangerously low wind chill, pose serious dangers, to sthose staying unsheltered, and the city encourages people to come inside. Cold temperatures can lead to a higher risk of hypothermia, frostbite, and carbon monoxide poisoning. 

Exposure to the extreme cold can cause both frostbite and hypothermia and become life-threatening within minutes.  

These tips can help to prevent exposure-related illness during periods of extremely cold temperatures:

  • Avoid prolonged exposure by limiting your time outside.
  • Stay dry and out of the wind. 
  • Dress in multiple layers of warm clothing, including hat, mittens, scarves, and boots.
  • Cover your mouth to protect your lungs from extreme cold.
  • 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. 

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

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

  • Avoid carbon monoxide poisoning.
    • Only use generators 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

With pets in mind, Denver Animal Protection is reminding residents to protect them from the elements. Not doing so is dangerous for animals, and can lead to a Cruelty to Animals or Animal Neglect charge, up to a $999 fine and/or a year in jail for the owner.

The best way to protect pets from extreme temperatures is to avoid long-term outdoor exposure. But, if pets must be outside for longer periods, Denver city ordinance requires pets have adequate outdoor shelter such as a doghouse, porch area, or a structure that allows the animal to escape the elements and keeps them dry. It should be large enough for pets to sit and lie down in, but small enough to retain their body heat. The entrance should also be covered with a flap of heavy waterproof fabric or heavy plastic. You could also further insulate you pet’s shelter by adding a “doggie door” to a garage.

Additional tips include:

  • When pets come in from the outdoors, remove snow, ice, salt and other ice-treatment chemicals from their coats and paws. This keeps them dry, but also prevents them from ingesting the chemicals. You should also look for signs that your pet’s feet are uncomfortably cold, including frequently lifting up their paws, whining, or stopping.
  • Temperatures can change quickly in winter, especially as the sun sets. It’s important not to leave your pet in a vehicle for prolonged periods of time. Cars can act like a refrigerator, holding in cold air and putting your pet at risk.
  • Provide extra food and water. Pets spending time outdoors in the winter use a lot of energy to stay warm. Provide a little extra food and regularly check your pet’s water dish is not frozen. Use plastic bowls instead of metal to prevent your pet’s tongue from freezing to them.
  • Don’t leave dangerous and potentially lethal chemicals like snow and ice remover or anti-freeze within your pet’s reach.
  • Always keep pets on a leash, especially near frozen bodies of water. If a pet falls through the ice, don’t go onto the ice to rescue them. If you can’t reach your pet from shore, call 911 for help. 

For information about Denver’s Animal Protection ordinances or additional pet safety tips, visit