When the temperatures begin to drop and your nose and toes feel cold, remember Mom's advice: Wear your hat and mittens.
For those who plan to spend time outdoors in the cold, wearing the right clothing is key, according to the Forest Preserve District of DuPage County. To ensure time spent outside in winter is safe and fun, here are some tips for people and pets.
“Bundling up against extreme cold might seem like simple common sense, but it’s important to protect yourself in mild winter weather, too,” John Roschay, an assistant manager and longtime district ranger, said in a news release. “Hypothermia can develop even with air temperatures above freezing, especially if you are chilled by wet clothing or sweat.”
Tips for dressing for the weather:
- Dress in layers
- Wear an outer layer that blocks wind and moisture; an insulating inner layer that traps heat, such a fleece or wool; and a base layer that wicks away perspiration, such as thermal underwear made from a synthetic or polyester fiber.
- Wool, silk and synthetic fleece retain body heat better than cotton and are good choices for winter clothing.
- Waterproof boots, thick socks, a hat, and gloves or mittens help to keep extremities warm.
“Ice is building up on local lakes, so whether visitors are fishing or walking along the shore, they should always use caution,” Roschay said.
Most ice activities, including ice fishing and ice skating, require at least 4 inches of clear ice.
Changes in weather, temperature, water levels and underground springs can affect ice. When checking ice, look for these indicators of dangerous conditions:
- Cracks, ridges or faults
- Differently colored ice, especially dark gray or black
- Open water in the center of an otherwise frozen lake
- Ice that looks rotten or porous
- Ice covered by snow, water or slush
- Running water or bubbles visible under the ice
- Pressure cracks along the shore
Source: Forest Preserve District of DuPage County
Winter Safety Tips for Pets
- Don't leave pets outdoors when the temperature drops. Dogs and cats are safest indoors, unless they are taken outside for supervised walks. Shorthaired dogs may feel more comfortable wearing a sweater.
- Pets that spend a lot of time outdoors need more food during the winter because staying warm requires more energy. Water dishes should be plastic because a pet's tongue can stick and freeze to metal. It is important to check regularly to make sure water is fresh and unfrozen.
- Salt used to melt snow and ice can irritate paws and may be harmful if ingested. Be sure to wipe feet with a damp towel before a pet licks them to remove the salt. Or consider using a pet-friendly ice melt.
- A dog that is kept outdoors should be protected with a dry, draft-free doghouse large enough to sit and lie down comfortably, but small enough to retain the animal's body heat. The floor should be raised off the ground and be covered with cedar shavings or straw.
- Antifreeze is deadly and because it has a sweet taste it can attract animals and children. Be sure to wipe up spills and store antifreeze out of reach. Antifreeze is available that is made with propylene glycol, which is less toxic in small amounts than that made with ethylene glycol.
Source: Humane Society of the United States