Otsego County Department of Health registered nurse Peggy Benjamin said people should keep track of weather reports and avoid unnecessary travel. Cold weather puts an extra strain on the heart, so people with heart disease or high blood pressure should check with their doctor before shoveling or other strenuous work, she said. Dressing in layers is an important part of staying warm, she said.
Hypothermia, when body temperature is 95 degrees or below, is an emergency condition that requires people to seek immediate medical care, she said. In adults, the symptoms include shivering, exhaustion, confusion, memory loss, slurred speech and drowsiness. In infants, the symptoms include bright red cold skin and low energy.
With extremely cold temperatures in the forecast today, area officials provided advice to keep people and animals safe. Cornell Cooperative Extension of Delaware County educator Paul Cerosaletti said this type of weather can dehydrate cattle. Farmers often increase the energy content of feed because their cattle burn more energy to keep their bodies warm, he said. They need to make sure water is not frozen and available, he said, to ensure their animals’ health.
Rain and wind affect the animals more than snow, he said, and if cattle are acclimated to the weather “they can tolerate these conditions better than you think.” Their skin provides good insulation, he said, but they need a place where they can get out of the elements and have good dry bedding, or even just a windbreak. It’s more critical for calves and young livestock, he said, because they don’t have the body mass of fully grown animal that is needed to create the heat.
For cats and dogs, Karen Crawford, manager at the Delaware Valley Humane Society in Sidney, said people should keep their pets inside during this weather if possible, and make sure they have plenty of food and water. If they have to be outside, make sure they have proper housing and dry bedding, she said, and water should be changed regularly to make sure it doesn’t freeze. But with frostbite a possibility, the best advice is to keep them inside, she said.