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Archive for Saturday, February 3, 1996

COLD NOT FIT FOR MANBEAST

February 3, 1996

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Sub-zero weather is having a chilling effect on outdoor activities of man and beast.

Extra layers of clothing, extra socks, extra gloves and extra personnel.

They're among the precautions Lawrence firefighters and other outdoor workers are taking to handle today's arctic weather that has plunged the area into a deep freeze.

Postal workers are being told to put on "everything you have" to deliver on their promise to bring the mail in all kinds of weather.

And people who own pets and livestock are being urged by veterinarians to protect their animals from what has been lethal weather for two dogs.

"When it gets this cold, nobody is ready for it, unless you're a penguin," said Bill Stark, Lawrence Fire Department's battalion chief.

Stark said all the extra warm clothing firefighters are wearing under their regular protective gear makes mobility difficult. And the firefighters wear out more quickly.

"It takes more people to fight a fire in this weather," Stark said. "In a fire fight, we can't say time out. When those people are worn out and frozen, we have to bring more people in. Cold weather puts a great load on us in terms of personnel."

Stark said there are more residential fires in cold weather.

Chimney fires increase, because people try to stoke their fireplaces too high. Furnaces can become overworked and cause electrical problems. Or wood stoves become overheated, he said.

"Probably the biggest thing is people are putting space heaters in places that don't normally have them," he said.

Finding ways to keep warm was on the mind of postal workers Friday.

Dean Boyd, a Lawrence letter carrier, was out in the weather for four hours Friday.

"It was bitter cold," Boyd said. "It was a day you'd like to forget."

Linda Chase, mail delivery supervisor, said the letter carriers out on Friday "were suffering, but we have not had any injuries. They wear plenty of clothes and take hand warmers and foot warmers. They put on everything they own."

Staying out too long can take its toll not only on people, but on animals as well, say two veterinarians.

"We've actually had a couple of dogs that have died from the cold exposure," said Dr. John Bradley, veterinarian at Bradley Animal Hospital.

Bradley said pet owners should make sure that their dog's house is facing with the opening to the south.

The dog house should also have a flap on the door that will keep out the wind and be insulated with straw, he said.

"One of the cases of hypothermia was with a dog that got wet," he said.

Pet owners also need to be aware that their animals need more water in the winter than in the summer -- which means frequent checks to break the ice, he said.

Bradley said if the temperature drops below 15 degrees, it's reasonable to bring the animal inside the house or at least into the garage.

Dr. Mark Marks, another veterinarian, said some dog breeds, such as chows, huskies, Newfoundlands, Akitas and Keeshounds are northern climate dogs "and they actually will thrive in weather like this."

"You'll think they're freezing in weather like this, but they'll be sitting on top of their dog house," Marks said.

Livestock, especially horses, needs attention in this kind of weather, Marks said. For example, he recommends that horses be given 40- to 45-degree water to make sure they drink enough. If they don't drink enough, they will become slightly dehydrated and can be subjected to colic.

"Dairy cattle will produce more milk if they're drinking warmer water as opposed to cold water," he added.

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