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Protect Yourself and Your Pets During Snowstorms

Another winter storm has taken aim at the east coast and is expected to drop significant amounts of snow from Washington, D.C., northwards along the I-95 corridor. To help keep you safe and warm, the Red Cross has safety reminders for both you and your pets.

If possible, you should stay indoors during the storm and avoid unnecessary travel. However, if you must go outside:

  • Wear layered lightweight clothing. It will keep you warmer than a single heavy coat. Gloves (or mittens) and a hat will prevent loss of body heat.
  • Wear waterproof, insulated boots to keep your feet warm and dry and to maintain your footing in ice and snow.
  • If you shovel snow, be extremely careful. Take frequent breaks and stay hydrated. Avoid overexertion.

Avoid traveling by car in a storm, but if you must ...

  • Carry a Disaster Supplies Kit in the trunk.
  • Keep your car's gas tank full for emergency use and to keep the fuel line from freezing.
  • Let someone know your destination, your route, and when you expect to arrive. If your car gets stuck along the way, help can be sent along your predetermined route.

Heating Safety To safely keep your home warm:

  • Never use your stove or oven to heat your home.
  • Place space heaters on a hard, level, nonflammable surface. Do not put space heaters on rugs or carpets, near bedding or drapes, and keep children and pets away. Look for a space heater model that shuts off automatically if the heater falls over.
  • Never leave portable heaters or fireplaces unattended.
  • Turn off space heaters or extinguish the fireplace before going to bed or leaving home.
  • Keep the fire in your fireplace by using a glass or metal screen large enough to catch sparks and rolling logs.
  • Keep all flammable materials such as newspapers, matches, bedding, clothing, carpets and rugs at least three feet away from heat sources such as space heaters, fireplaces and stoves.

Pet Safety If possible, bring your pets inside during cold winter weather. Move other animals or livestock to sheltered areas and make sure they have access to non-frozen drinking water. If the animals are outside, make sure their access to food and water is not blocked by snow drifts, ice or other obstacles.

The following tips on winter pet safety are provided by the Humane Society of the United States:

  • If pets cannot come indoors, make sure they are protected by a dry, draft-free enclosure large enough to allow them to sit and lie down, but small enough to hold in the pet’s body heat. Raise the floor a few inches off the ground and cover it with cedar shavings or straw. Turn the enclosure away from the wind and cover the doorway with waterproof burlap or heavy plastic.
  • Salt and other chemicals used to melt snow and ice can irritate a pet’s paws. Wipe their paws with a damp towel before your pet licks them and irritates their mouth.
  • Antifreeze is a deadly poison. Wipe up spills and store antifreeze out of reach.

For more information on winter storm safety, visit