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Cold-weather tips for you, your pet and home

Freeport resident Herman Nieto's dog Mike watches his

Freeport resident Herman Nieto's dog Mike watches his owner clear a walkway in Freeport on Thursday Jan. 4, 2018. Credit: Newsday / J. Conrad Williams Jr.

This story was originally published on Jan. 5, 2018.

The snow may be done for now, but frigid temperatures aren’t going anywhere.

The National Weather Service reports that Long Island will see below-freezing temps throughout the weekend, with Saturday’s high not reaching more than 13 degrees and a wind chill of minus 10 to minus 15.

That’s cold, even for New Yorkers. Here are tips to help you survive the weekend safely:


  • If you need to be outside, cover as much exposed skin as possible and head inside if you start to lose feeling in any extremity. That could be an early sign of frostbite, according to tips from Stony Brook University Hospital. You also should take breaks as needed — cold temperatures and exertion from shoveling can trigger heart attacks.
  • You can soak your hands and feet in warm water to help return them to normal temperature, the hospital said.
  • Once inside, dress in layers and use blankets.
  • The center also said it’s important to stay hydrated. The cold makes dehydration occur faster.


Cats and dogs regulate body heat differently than humans do, according the Suffolk County Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, so pet owners should take certain precautions to keep them safe.

  • The best strategy is to keep pets inside as much as possible. It’s illegal in Suffolk County to keep your dog outside when temperatures are below 32 degrees or there’s a wind-chill advisory, watch or warning in effect, the SPCA said.
  • Limit walks, the SPCA said, and consider purchasing booties and coats for your animals. On walks, if a dog seems to whine, lift up its paws or stop, chances are that their paws are too cold. Check for red, white or gray and scaly skin as signs of frostbite.
  • Salts and snow-melting agents can also irritate dog paws, so booties will help. Be sure to also watch out for antifreeze — it may make snow clearing easier for you, but it’s toxic to pets, who are attracted to the sweet smell.
  • If you have an outdoor rabbit, make sure its hutch is warm and dry with extra water and food, the SPCA said.


  • Check that your home isn’t leaking heat — warm air can escape, and cold air can come in through faulty ductwork, ineffective weather stripping or poorly insulated attic access doors, among other gaps, according to PSEG Long Island.
  • PSEG LI does not recommend using space heaters if money is a concern — they use lots of electricity.
  • Use sunny days to your advantage by keeping drapes open during the day and closing off windows with heavy drapes once the sun sets.
  • Make sure heating vents aren’t covered by furniture. Try using a ceiling fan to keep air circulating — hot air that’s risen to the top of the room will redistribute if you turn the fan on at a low speed in a clockwise direction, according to Energy Star, the Environmental Protection Agency’s energy efficiency program.
  • Finally, check your thermostat. It may need an upgrade or a programming adjustment.


  • Watch out for black ice while driving and getting in and out of your car. Look for shiny spots that resemble puddles — that’s where a thin layer of dew and condensation has frozen. Black ice is likely to form first under bridges and overpasses, at intersections and in shady spots.
  • In traffic, leave plenty of space between cars, Nassau County police said. If you do start to skid, take your foot off the gas and steer where you want to go. Don’t slam on the brakes.
  • Be sure to clear snow from the top of your vehicle. Wind and motion can cause it to break off and hit other cars, creating dangerous “flying snow,” police said.

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