Cold weather tips for pets, plants, pipes, and cars - WTVM.com-Columbus, GA News Weather & Sports

Cold weather tips for pets, plants, pipes, and cars

PETS

  • Keep your cat inside. Outdoors, felines can freeze, become lost or be stolen, injured or killed. Cats who are allowed to stray are exposed to infectious diseases, including rabies, from other cats, dogs and wildlife.
  • During the winter, outdoor cats sometimes sleep under the hoods of cars. When the motor is started, the cat can be injured or killed by the fan belt. If there are outdoor cats in your area, bang loudly on the car hood before starting the engine to give the cat a chance to escape.
  • Never let your dog off the leash on snow or ice, especially during a snowstorm-dogs can lose their scent and easily become lost. More dogs are lost during the winter than during any other season, so make sure yours always wears ID tags.
  • Thoroughly wipe off your dog's legs and stomach when he comes in out of the sleet, snow or ice. He can ingest salt, antifreeze or other potentially dangerous chemicals while licking his paws, and his paw pads may also bleed from snow or encrusted ice.
  • Never shave your dog down to the skin in winter, as a longer coat will provide more warmth. When you bathe your dog in the colder months, be sure to completely dry him before taking him out for a walk. Own a short-haired breed? Consider getting him a coat or sweater with a high collar or turtleneck with coverage from the base of the tail to the belly. For many dogs, this is regulation winter wear.
  • Never leave your dog or cat alone in a car during cold weather. A car can act as a refrigerator in the winter, holding in the cold and causing the animal to freeze to death.
  • Puppies do not tolerate the cold as well as adult dogs, and may be difficult to housebreak during the winter. If your puppy appears to be sensitive to the weather, you may opt to paper-train him inside. If your dog is sensitive to the cold due to age, illness or breed type, take him outdoors only to relieve himself.
  • Does your dog spend a lot of time engaged in outdoor activities? Increase his supply of food, particularly protein, to keep him-and his fur-in tip-top shape.
  • Like coolant, antifreeze is a lethal poison for dogs and cats. Be sure to thoroughly clean up any spills from your vehicle, and consider using products that contain propylene glycol rather than ethylene glycol. Visit the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center more information.
  • 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.

PLANTS

  • Make sure you have enough sheets, freeze cloth, blankets to cover cold sensitive plants. When a hard freeze is predicted, water your plants the morning before the predicted freeze. However, you don't want your plants to be wet going into the evening hours. The reason for watering the soil is moist soil retains heat better than dry soil.
  • Cover plants so the material goes all the way to the ground. The idea is to trap enough heat under the cover to protect plants from cold during the night. Place weights on the material on the ground so it doesn't blow away. The effectiveness of covering plants depends on the wind. During freezes with windy weather, the covers tend to be less effective because the wind blows away the heat. During windy freezes or very cold nights, addition of plastic sheeting over the cloth may be worth the effort on valuable plants.
  • Do not use plastic alone to cover plants as the plastic may freeze to the plants. A light bulb also may be placed under the sheets to give additional heat. Make sure to remove the plastic and the light bulb the next morning.
  • Valuable potted plants, which you are unable to adequately cover because of their height or conditions, may be carefully laid on their side on the ground and then covered with one or two layers of protective material. Several of these plants may be grouped together and placed under an oak tree which will give them additional protection from the cold.

PIPES

Beat the Freeze - Minimize the chance your pipes will freeze by insulating pipes in unheated areas and those that run along outside walls, floors and ceilings. Disconnect outside garden hoses and seal foundation cracks that let arctic air freeze pipes in crawlspaces.

A few simple tasks can help protect pipes and homes when a severe freeze is predicted:

  • Open cabinet doors to allow heat to get to piping under sinks and vanities near exterior walls.
  • Run a small trickle of water from hot and cold faucets during extreme cold.
  • Keep exterior doors to unheated spaces closed as much as possible during winter months.
  • If you are taking a short trip or own a business that will be unoccupied for more than 24 hours, make arrangements to have the dwelling checked regularly during severe cold spells. Discovering a burst pipe or water leak quickly can prevent excessive damage.
  • Install a whole house water leak detection system.

CARS

Charge! - Cold weather is tough on batteries. At zero degrees Fahrenheit, a car's battery loses about 60 percent of its strength. At a mild 32 degrees Fahrenheit, a battery is 35 percent weaker. Keeping battery terminals clean helps, but a load test performed by a qualified automotive technician will help determine whether a car's battery is strong enough for winter starts.

Get a Grip - Make sure your car is equipped with tires that are able to handle your region's winter weather. Check the tire tread. Good tread allows water to escape from under the tires and increases traction. Keep tires at proper pressure. A chart with the manufacturer's recommended inflation pressure can be found on the driver side door jamb, inside the glove box, or on the fuel filler flap. For most motorists, all-season tires are adequate. In northern or mountainous regions, switching to snow tires may be needed. Motorists also should observe storm watch advisories that urge the use of snow chains or they may risk being turned around by law enforcement, getting stuck in the snow, or even in a major crash.

See and Be Seen - Danger must be visible to be avoided. Driving with a snow-covered windshield, windows, side-view mirrors or lights invites a crash. Clear windows, mirrors and lights with an ice scraper, brush or spray de-icer. Make certain windshield wipers and defrosters are in good working order and the window washer reservoirs are filled with no-freeze windshield washer fluid. To make sure your vehicle is seen by other drivers, be sure to use your headlights, but not your bright headlights, unless absolutely necessary.

Keep Your Engine Cool - Make certain cooling system anti-freeze is mixed with an equal portion of water for maximum protection.

Key Solution - Frozen door locks can be overcome by carefully heating the end of a key with a match or lighter. A squirt of de-icer spray is another quick method.

Slippery When Wet - In temperatures at or just above 32 degrees, a thin layer of water can cover the ice, causing extremely slippery conditions. The distance needed to stop on ice at 32 degrees is twice as long as at zero degrees. Slow down and use extra caution when passing other vehicles.

Steer Clear - Steering is preferred to braking at speeds above 25 mph because less distance is required to steer around an object than to brake to a stop. Sudden braking often leads to skids. Increase following distance. The extra distance provides a buffer in case of skids.

Air it Out - Don't let frigid temperatures tempt you into starting your car in a closed garage or idling your engine for long periods with the windows closed. Carbon monoxide, present in exhaust fumes, is almost impossible to detect and can be fatal when breathed in a confined area.

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