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For Immediate Release: 1/6/2014

Montgomery County Offers Cold Weather Information for People and Animals; Community Members Strongly Advised to Take Precautions for Record Cold

Due to the record cold weather expected in Montgomery County tonight and through Wednesday of this week, community members should be aware of the following important information.

Alert Montgomery:

For timely severe weather and emergency notifications, go to https://alert.montgomerycountymd.gov and sign up for Alert Montgomery. Warnings and emergency updates will be sent directly to your cell phone and/or email address. The service is free, but text charges may apply, so check with your cell phone carrier before selecting text alerts.

“I want to make certain that everyone knows what to do and where to get help during this period of record cold,” said County Executive Ike Leggett. “The record books show that it has been about 20 years since our area has seen such cold temperatures and it is critical for public safety that everyone takes these conditions seriously. Please check on elderly neighbors and friends and those new to the County who may not be familiar with available Montgomery County emergency services.”

All Montgomery County facilities, such as libraries, recreation centers and senior centers will be open during their regular hours for use by anyone needing an escape from the cold. Public shopping centers are also available as warm locations during their hours of operation.

County Emergency Services:

For information on county critical emergency resources, call the County’s Crisis Center at 240-777-4000 or visit the center at 1301 Piccard Drive in Rockville. The phone line and Crisis Center are staffed 24/7.

Outreach program providers have attempted to encourage individuals who are homeless to seek shelter. All emergency and transitional shelters will allow homeless individuals to stay inside during the day tomorrow and until temperatures increase, and/or return to a shelter early from day activity programs.

Under these unusual conditions, Montgomery County Police and their allied agencies will be checking the welfare of homeless individuals as they encounter them in the county and encouraging them to use the available shelters.

Hypothemia:

Extreme cold is a dangerous situation that can bring on health emergencies in susceptible people, such as the very young, seniors, those without shelter or who are stranded, or who live in a home that is poorly insulated and/or without heat. Hypothermia can result form prolonged exposure to the cold. When exposed to cold temperatures, the body beings to lose heat faster than it can be produced. When the body’s store of energy is used up, the result is hypothermia. Because hypothermia can affect the brain, a person may not be aware that it is happening, and not take appropriate steps to prevent damage.

Warning Signs:

• Shivering, exhaustion

• Confusion, fumbling hands

• Memory loss, slurred speech

• Drowsiness

• For infants – bright red, cold skin, very low energy

What to do:

• If you notice any of these signs, take the person’s temperature. If it is below 95 degrees, the situation is an emergency – get medical attention immediately

• If the person is unconscious and does not seem to have a pulse or to be breathing, call 9-1-1

Prior to medical care:

• Get victim into a warm room or shelter

• Remove any wet clothing

• Warm the center of the body first – chest, neck, head, and groin – using electric blanket if available, or use skin-to-skin- contact under loose, dry layers of blankets, clothing, towels, or sheets

• Warm, non-alcoholic, beverages can help increase body temperatures if the victim is conscious

Frostbite:

Frostbite is an injury to the body that is caused by freezing. Frostbite causes a loss of feeling and color in affected areas, typically the nose, ears, cheeks, chin, fingers, or toes. Signs of frostbite include redness or pain in any skin area, a white or grayish-yellow skin area, skin that feels unusually firm or waxy and numbness.

What to do:

• Get into a warm area as soon as possible

• Immerse the affected area in warm, but not hot, water

• Warm the affected area using body heat 

• Do not use a heating pad, heat lamp, or the heat of a stove, fireplace, or radiator for warming

• Do not walk on frostbitten feet or toes if at all possible 

• Do not rub the frostbitten area with snow of massage it in any fashion  

Outdoor Safety:

Try to stay indoors, and make trips outside as brief as possible. Limit outdoor recreational activity. Outdoor cold weather exertion puts extra strain on the heart.

• Wear hat, scarf, or mask to cover face and mouth

• Sleeves should be snug at the wrist

• Mittens are warmer than gloves

• Several layers of loose-fitting clothing should be worn under a heavy coat

Indoor Safety:

If you plan to use a wood stove, fireplace or space heater, be extremely careful. Never use generators, grills, camp stoves, or similar devices indoors, inside a garage, or near the air intake of your house because of the risk of carbon monoxide poisoning.

• Only use combustion heaters if they are properly vented to the outside and do not leak flue gas into the indoor air space

• Do not place a space heater within three feet of anything that may catch fire, such as drapes, furniture or bedding

Vehicle Safety:

During cold winter weather, keep the gas tank near full to help avoid ice in the tank and fuel lines. Make sure there is adequate antifreeze. Never leave a person of any age alone in a vehicle. Have extra blankets and supplies in case of a breakdown.

Animal Care:

Due to the National Weather Service warning for a bitterly cold, arctic air mass between January 6 and January 8, which will continue to bring dangerously-low temperatures and wind chill values, Animal Services Division Director Mary Healey is announcing enforcement of Executive Regulation 10-10AM, Anti-Cruelty Conditions for Dogs.

Section II-C of the regulation states that “a person must not tether a dog under circumstances that endanger its health, safety, or well-being including: unattended tethering of the dog during a weather emergency.” The enforcement of this regulation is put into effect during periods of high heat and humidity, and during conditions of extreme cold, wind, and heavy snow which can all be damaging to dogs and other animals. This law was enacted by the Montgomery County Council on June 25, 2002. Dogs spending a period of time outdoors must have access to shelter to properly protect them from the elements. The penalty for this violation is a $500 fine.

Montgomery County Police Animal Services officers want to remind citizens to be particularly careful with all pets during this time period of record cold. The best advice during periods of extreme weather conditions is to bring your pets indoors. Even animals that are accustomed to living outdoors can be susceptible to the dangers of cold weather. Livestock animals should have a place to get out of the wind; dry bedding should be provided to protect them from frostbite.

ASD Officers will be on-call, patrolling neighborhoods and responding to any animal-related emergencies. If you see an animal left outside that appears to be in danger, please call the police non-emergency number, 301-279-8000, which dispatches Animal Services Division officers.

Tips from veterinarians for cold weather care of a dog include:

• Provide a heated bed and shelter for dogs which cannot come indoors

• Avoid letting your dog eat snow – keep fresh room temperature water available at all times

• Keep food and water in a place where it will not freeze – preferably inside

• A dog’s ears and tail are susceptible to frostbite; check them after a dog has been outside for a long period of time

• 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

• A dog licking the salt off the bottom of his paws can make him sick, so wipe his paws after he walks through a salted area

• Never leave your dog or cat alone in a car during cold weather because a car can act as a refrigerator in the winter, holding in the cold and cause the animal to freeze to death

 

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Release ID: 14-008
Media Contact: Lucille Baur 240-777-6507 or Mary Anderson240-777-6534

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Last edited: 11/8/2010