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The effects of extreme cold temperatures | Pets

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The effects of extreme cold temperatures

GRAND RAPIDS (WZZM) - According to WZZM TV-13 meteorologist Alana Nehring, Tuesday was the coldest day in Grand Rapids since January 15, 2009.  It only managed to get to 10 degrees that day.

Tuesday's high temperature matched it, forcing many of us to be reminded on how to take care of your car, pets and yourself in the bitter cold.

It's been quoted that extreme cold presents problems for man and beast.  It also can present problems for cars.

"These cold starts are the hardest things on vehicles," said Dustin Wiegerink, service manager at Keller Ford in Grand Rapids.

Wiegerink says the three main issues people have with their cars on these bitterly cold days are dead batteries, frozen door locks and low tire pressure.

"Give your car a 15 to 20 minutes warm-up time [before you drive it]", Wiegerink suggests. "That gives the oil time to get warm and circulate through the engine, and that way you don't cause yourself engine damage down the road."

If you have frozen door locks, Wiegerink suggests not pouring hot water on them because that water will just freeze and potentially make things worse.

"If you can get some lock de-icer, that will work just fine," added Wiegerink. "You can also trying using a hair dryer on the locks."

Sudden low tire pressure is also a common effect during stretched of extreme cold.

"When it comes to stopping, and when it comes to traction, your tire pressure is very important," Wiegerink said. "When we have these extreme temperature drops, from the 40s to single-digits, make sure you check tire pressure in all four tires."

Your animals also need to stay out of the extreme cold.

"If they're reluctant to go outside, listen to them," said Dr. Roe Froman, who is a veterinarian at the Northeast Cat & Dog Hospital in Grand Rapids. "

There are tell-tale signs if your pet might have frost bite.

"Frost bites are going to keep on having something that's sore," added Dr. Froman. "Maybe they shake their feet or lick at their paw pads; maybe later they refuse to move."

Dr. Froman also says it may be hard to tell if your pet is suffering from frost bite or if they recently walked through road salt. If you're not sure, call a veterinarian right away.

If at all possible, physicians suggest that people need to stay out of the extreme cold, too.

"Any exposed skin, if you're outdoors, needs to be covered," said Dr. Ben Shives, a resident at Spectrum Butterworth Hospital. "When the blood gets cold, it slows down. It becomes sludge, and that can happen in your extremities when they're getting more cold."

Shives suggests if you have to spend extended periods of time in the extreme cold, to keep moving your fingers. That will keep the blood moving back to the heart where it can warm up."

When the wind chill is 0-19 degrees below, like it was Tuesday, doctors say exposed skin can freeze within five minutes.

For animals, it's even less time than that.


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