Cold Weather Tidbits

Cold Weather Safety Tidbits

By Peggy Moore

In Iowa this past week, temperatures dropped well below zero.  Add to that the extreme wind chill and many people are finding it challenging to stay warm outdoors.  Below are some cold weather safety tidbits:

  •           Protect your hands (mittens are warmer than gloves) and feet (wear moisture-resistant socks). 
  •           Wear a hat – approximately 40% of heat is lost through your head.
  •           Wear a scarf or mask to cover your mouth and face (also protects your lungs).
  •           Dress in several loose layers to prevent perspiration – excess perspiration leads to heat loss.
  •           Wear water-resistant/wind-resistant coat and boots.

Make sure you limit your time outdoors.   Hypothermia, the lowering of the body’s core temperature, can occur within minutes.  Symptoms of mild hypothermia are uncontrollable shivering, slurred speech, impaired judgment, slowed reflexes, and loss of coordination.  One should return to shelter to block wind/precipitation, remove wet clothing, eat something, drink warm liquids, cuddle with another person to share body heat (skin to skin contact is the best), and increase heat production by exercising.

According to the Enviro-Tech International’s website, “The best method of prevention is to be prepared for the worst conditions, no matter what the conditions are at the time you look out of the window.  Anticipate every problem which may arise and be prepared for it.  The best defense against hypothermia is to understand it.  The next step is to use the layering system.  Always carry extra clothes with you.  This may save your life.  It’s also important to keep the body’s furnace stoked with fuel.  By eating easily digested food such as carbohydrates, frequently throughout the day, the body can maintain its normal heat production.  Keep your body hydrated.  Force yourself to drink fluids on cold days.  The body can’t effectively use the food it has without the proper amount of fluid in the system.  Always carry emergency gear with you.”

Frostbite can also occur during extreme cold temperatures.  It causes a loss of feeling and color to affected areas and most commonly occurs in the nose, ears, cheeks, chin, fingers, and toes.  In severe cases, frostbite can lead to amputation.  The first sign of frostbite is redness or pain in the affected area.  If one is able to get out of the cold, this is the time to do it.  Other symptoms include numbness, white or grayish-yellow skin and skin that feels unusually firm or waxy.  According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, when frostbite occurs, “Get into a warm room as soon as possible.  Unless absolutely necessary, do not walk on frostbitten feet or toes.  Immerse the affected area in warm – not hot – water or warm the affected area using body heat…Do not rub the frostbitten area with snow or massage it at all.  This can cause more damage.  Don’t use a heating pad, heat lamp, or the heat of a stove, fireplace, or radiator for warming.  Affected areas are numb and can be easily burned.”

Not only do we need to pay special attention to the weather, what we wear, and how we protect ourselves from the elements, it’s also important to remember the smaller member’s of our families – our pets – and their needs during the blistering cold.  Remember, if the weather is too cold for you, it’s too cold for your pet.  The ASPCA put together a list of 10 cold weather tips for your pets and is featured below:

1.      Keep your cat inside. Outdoors, felines can freeze or become lost or be stolen, injured, or killed. Cats who are allowed to stray are exposed to infectious diseases, including rabies, from other cats, dogs, and wildlife. 

2.      During the winter, outdoor cats sometimes sleep under the hoods of cars. When the motor is started, the cat can be injured or killed by the fan belt. If there are outdoor cats in your area, bang loudly on the car hood before starting the engine to give the cat a chance to escape. 

3.      Never let your dog off the leash on snow or ice, especially during a snowstorm, dogs can lose their scent and easily become lost. More dogs are lost during the winter than during any other season, so make sure yours always wears ID tags.  

4.      Thoroughly wipe off your dog’s legs and stomach when he comes in out of the sleet, snow or ice. He can ingest salt, antifreeze or other potentially dangerous chemicals while licking his paws, and his paw pads may also bleed from snow or encrusted ice.

5.      Never shave your dog down to the skin in winter, as a longer coat will provide more warmth. When you bathe your dog in the colder months, be sure to completely dry him before taking him out for a walk. Own a short-haired breed? Consider getting him a coat or sweater with a high collar or turtleneck with coverage from the base of the tail to the belly. For many dogs, this is regulation winter wear. 

6.      Never leave your dog or cat alone in a car during cold weather. A car can act as a refrigerator in the winter, holding in the cold and causing the animal to freeze to death. 

7.      Puppies do not tolerate the cold as well as adult dogs, and may be difficult to housebreak during the winter. If your puppy appears to be sensitive to the weather, you may opt to paper-train him inside. If your dog is sensitive to the cold due to age, illness or breed type, take him outdoors only to relieve himself. 

8.      Does your dog spend a lot of time engaged in outdoor activities? Increase his supply of food, particularly protein, to keep him, and his fur, in tip-top shape. 

9.      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. Visit the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center more information. 

10.  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.

It’s only January so winter is going to be around for a few more months.  Just remember to take care of yourself and your pets.  Stay inside when possible and limit your outdoor activity.  Taking the necessary precautions will prevent injury.

For more cold weather tidbits, visit the links below.

Keep or Toss: Getting your Finances Organized in 2014

As you scramble to go through receipts, bills, and pay stubs from the year for tax time, you might be asking yourself: What do I really need? How long must I keep those items? What is clutter and what is worth keeping? We have sourced several money managing periodicals (Money Magazine, Kiplinger’s), as well as advice from a well known “financial guru” (Suze Orman) to find out what you’ll need to de-clutter your filing cabinet and get your tax paper work in order!

Keep until warranty expires or you can no longer return or exchange

  • Sales Receipts (Unless needed for tax purposes and then keep for 3 years)

What to keep for 1 month

  • ATM Printouts (When you balance your checkbook each month throw out the ATM receipts)

What to keep for 1 year

  • ·         Paycheck Stubs (You can get rid of once you have compared to your W2 and annual social security statement)
  • ·         Utility Bills (You can throw out after one year, unless you’re using these as a deduction like a home office – then you need to keep them for 3 years after you’ve filed that tax return)
  • ·         Cancelled Checks (Unless needed for tax purposes – then you need to keep for 3 years)
  • ·         Credit Card Receipts (Unless needed for tax purposes – then you need to keep for 3 years)
  • ·         Bank Statements (Unless needed for tax purposes – then you need to keep for 3 years)
  • ·         Quarterly Investment Statements (Hold on to until you get your annual statement)

What to keep for 3 years

  • ·         Income Tax Returns (Please keep in mind that you can be audited by the IRS for no reason up to three years after you filed a tax return. If you omit 25% of your gross income that goes up to 6 years and if you don’t file a tax return at all, there is no statute of limitations.)
  • ·         Medical Bills and Cancelled Insurance Policies
  • ·         Records of Selling a House (Documentation for Capital Gains Tax)
  • ·         Records of Selling a Stock (Documentation for Capital Gains Tax)
  • ·         Receipts, Cancelled Checks, and other Documents that Support Income or a Deduction on your Tax Return (Keep 3 years from the date the return was filed or 2 years from the date the tax was paid — whichever is later)
  • ·         Annual Investment Statement (Hold onto 3 years after you sell your investment.)

What to keep for 7 years

  • Records of Satisfied Loans

Keep Forever

  • ·         Marriage Licenses
  • ·         Birth Certificates
  • ·         Wills
  • ·         Adoption Papers
  • ·         Death Certificates
  • ·         Records of Paid Mortgages
  • ·         Life Insurance Policies

What to Toss

  • ·         Toss paid bills at your discretion (some people get a kick out of comparing old heating bills with their current one). But keep receipts for big purchases (computers, furniture, jewelry, and what not) indefinitely for warranty and insurance purposes.
  • ·         Purge bank statements every few years if you get paper copies from your bank. Most banks offer them online and you can find them there if you need them.
  • ·         With insurance policies that you renew each year, such as home, apartment, and automobile, keep the most current contracts and dispose of older ones.

While you are getting your finances organized, don’t forget to take another look at your life insurance policy. Is it up to date? Is it the right amount for you? Western Fraternal Life can help you get your financial future on track.