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Extreme cold poses risks to people and pets

Posted at 12:05 PM, Jan 12, 2024
and last updated 2024-01-12 14:05:09-05

BUTTE — With the temperatures plummeting well below zero this weekend, it’s not going to be safe to be outside for a long time for humans and pets, too.

“So when we get to this degree of cold, weather can have a significant impact on all of us and it can happen within minutes,” said Dr. Serena Brewer of Butte.

Just 10 to 15 minutes of exposure to temperatures dropping to 20 below can cause frostbite and hypothermia. Frostbite occurs when blood rushes from the extremities of the body to protect the core leaving skin unprotected from the cold.

“Temporary damage to the tissue, and with longer exposure, permanent damage to the tissue, so you can lose digits as a result of that long exposure,” said Brewer.

Hypothermia can cause people to quickly lose their senses.

“With true extreme exposures over time, your ability to recognize that you’re cold disappears and that’s what puts you in a bit of danger,” she said.

People should avoid going outside in extreme cold, but if they must, take frequent breaks.

“If you feel you’re beginning to experience that exposure, come into a warm room, take off any wet layers that you have, wrap up in a blanket,” said Brewer.

The cold is not only dangerous to humans. Pets run a risk too.

“If It’s too cold for you out, it’s probably too cold for most dogs. Certainly, huskies, malamutes are different breeds, but most dogs would want to come in in those kind of temperatures,” said Butte Animal Control Officer J.D. Santifer.

Dogs and cats can suffer frostbite and even death from prolonged exposure to extreme cold.

“The pads of their feet are susceptible to cold as well. We recommend people make sure they're providing a good shelter, only let animals out short periods of time in this subzero temperatures we’re going to have,” said Santifer.