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Winter safety tips for your family and pets

The Cleveland County Public Health Center would like to remind everyone during these extremely cold winter days that if you are cold, your pets probably are too. Follow these winter safety tips to help keep you and your family, including your pets, warm and safe.
Heat Your Home Safely:
More home fires are started in the winter by heating equipment than any other cause. Portable and electric space heaters are the most dangerous. If you plan to use a wood stove, fireplace, or space heater, be extremely careful. Follow the manufacturer's instructions and remember these safety tips:
•Use fireplace, wood stoves, or other combustion heaters only if they are properly vented to the outside and do not leak gas into the indoor air space.
•Do not burn paper in a fireplace.
•Ensure adequate ventilation if you must use a kerosene heater.
•Use only the type of fuel your heater is designed to use--don't substitute.
•Do not place a space heater within 3 feet of anything that may catch on fire, such as drapes, furniture, or bedding, and never cover your space heater.
•Never place a space heater on top of furniture or near water.
•Never leave children unattended near a space heater.
•Make sure that the cord of an electric space heater is not a tripping hazard but do not run the cord under carpets or rugs.
•Avoid using extension cords to plug in your space heater.
•If your space heater has a damaged electrical cord or produces sparks, do not use it.
•Store a multipurpose, dry-chemical fire extinguisher near the area to be heated.
•Protect yourself from carbon monoxide (CO) poisoning by installing a battery-operated CO detector and never using generators, grills, camp stoves, or similar devices indoors.

Cook Safely:
•Never use a charcoal or gas grill indoors--the fumes are deadly.
•Never use an electric generator indoors, inside the garage, or near the air intake of your house because of the risk of carbon monoxide poisoning.
•Plug in appliances to the generator using individual heavy-duty, outdoor-rated cords.
•Do not use the generator or appliances if they are wet because of the risk of electrocution.
•Do not store gasoline indoors where the fumes could ignite.

Help Protect Your Pets:
Whether pets are indoor or outdoor pets, their safety is at higher risk due to the cold, harsh conditions this winter and require extra attention. Here are some helpful tips to keep your pets safe, comfortable and warm this season:
•Keep your animals inside. If left outdoors, pets can freeze, become disoriented, lost, stolen, injured or killed. It is unlawful under Cleveland County Ordinance for any owner to fail to provide his animals with proper shelter and protection from the weather. Furthermore, County Ordinance requires tethered animals to have access to appropriate shelter.
•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.
•Don't leave pets alone in a car during cold weather, as cars can act as refrigerators that hold in the cold and cause animals to freeze to death. Cleveland County Ordinance states it is unlawful for any person to leave an animal within a closed car, truck or other vehicle for a duration or at such temperatures as an animal control officer shall, in his sole discretion, deem to be harmful or potentially harmful to the animal.
•Keep your home humidified and towel dry your pet as soon as he comes inside if wet. Repeatedly coming out of the cold into the dry heat of your home can cause itchy, flaking skin.
•Never shave your dog down to the skin in winter, as a longer coat will provide more warmth. If your dog is long-haired, simply trim him. If your dog is short-haired, consider getting him a coat or sweater with a high collar or turtleneck with coverage from the base of the tail to the belly.
•Prevent poisonings. 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.
•Pets burn extra energy by trying to stay warm in wintertime. Feeding your pet a little bit more during the cold weather months can provide much-needed calories, and making sure she has plenty of water to drink will help keep her well-hydrated and her skin less dry.
•Bathe your pets as little as possible during cold spells. Washing too often can remove essential oils and increase the chance of developing dry, flaky skin.
During this particularly harsh winter season, we are presented with many safety challenges both indoors and out. Being prepared and following these simple safety tips can help you and your pets stay safe and warm this winter season. For more information on winter safety, you may visit the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's website at http://www.bt.cdc.gov/disasters/winter/guide.asp. For more information on how to keep your pets safe during the winter, you may visit the American Veterinary Medical Association website at https://www.avma.org/public/PetCare/Pages/Cold-weather-pet-safety.aspx.
Submitted by DeShay Oliver

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