DDPHE Offers Health and Safety Tips for Upcoming Frigid Weather

Published on February 01, 2022

Protect Yourself and Your Pets from Snow and Arctic Cold

With frigid cold and significant snow arriving in the city and metro area today and tomorrow, the Denver Department of Public Health & Environment (DDPHE) offers guidance to keep residents and their pets safe and healthy during the storm.

Weather forecasts predict Denver will experience at least 84 hours of sub-freezing temperatures this week. Winter storms can cause travel hazards and higher risk of hypothermia, frostbite, carbon monoxide poisoning, and heart attacks from overexertion. With this extreme cold and snow pouring into the metro area, DDPHE offers these tips to stay safe:

  • 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.
  • Keep refrigerators and freezer closed in the event of power outage. 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.
  • Stay off roads, and stay indoors, if possible. If trapped in your car, stay inside.
  • Listen for emergency information and alerts.
  • Limit your time outside. If you need to go outside, wear layers of warm clothing.
  • Avoid carbon monoxide poisoning. Only use generators and grills outdoors and away from windows. Never heat your home with a gas stovetop or oven.
  • Reduce the risk of a heart attack. Avoid overexertion when shoveling snow.
  • 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.

Keep pets safe too!

Denver Animal Protection (DAP) reminds residents not to forget the needs of pets during the cold weather. While dogs and cats may have fur coats, that is 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 311 or the Denver Police non-emergency number, 720-913-2000. Failure to protect a pet could lead to a $999 fine, and/or 300 days in jail.