ST. LOUIS — How do you prepare for the impending cold weather to keep your family, pets, and home safe? Here are some expert recommendations.

Winterize your home

Today, Farmington Emergency Management posted a Facebook post from Farmington Public Works about how homeowners may help protect their homes against frozen pipes and water damage.

A photo of a busted pipe by Liz Dowell

“Due to the upcoming below-freezing temperatures, we strongly recommend leaving a faucet dripping in your house starting the evening of Thursday, December 22, to prevent water lines from freezing,” the post read. “You should continue to do this until the following Monday, December 26, especially if you have had issues with your lines freezing in the past.”

If a frozen pipe bursts, water pressure builds up and floods your home as the pipes begin to thaw.

How to Keep Your Pet Safe

The Department of Health website in St. Louis, Missouri, provides a few useful ideas on how to keep your pet safe.

When the temperature drops below 32 degrees Fahrenheit, don’t leave your pets outside unattended. This also applies to dogs with double coats, such as Huskies, Aussies, Bernese mountain dogs, and other cold-weather companions. They may enjoy winter, but they will not enjoy frostbite.

Standard Australian Shepherd, Kota, in the snow. Photo by Liz Dowell

“If your dog is sensitive to the cold due to age, illness, or breed type (small or short-haired), take them outside only long enough to relieve themselves. Puppies do not tolerate cold as well as adult dogs,” the Department of Health explained. 

If you take your pets for a stroll, make sure to wipe down their paws, legs, and stomachs when you get home. There may be salt and other de-icing chemicals on major roadways that can make your pet sick if they lick themselves or swallow the toxins.

Keep your kitty inside. Cats can take refuge in a warm car engine and be severely injured or killed if the engine is started. Before starting your car in the winter, check under the hood for any hidden cats or other wildlife.

Also, during a snowstorm, do not allow your dog to run loose in an unfenced area. Dogs frequently lose their scent in the snow and can become disoriented.

How to Protect Your Family

The Children’s Hospital of St. Louis has some tips for keeping kids safe and having fun in the snow. Frostbite is a risk for students who play outside in the winter or who wait at the bus stop.

Keep your family safe by bundling up appropriately for the snow. Photo by Liz Dowell

Doctors say to wear synthetic layers like polypropylene long underwear and cover up as much of your body as possible. If feasible, remove damp clothing as quickly as possible, or use waterproof clothing, boots, and gloves. Make sure your boots have adequate wiggle room to allow for proper circulation.

The first sign of frostbite is burning discomfort. As frostbite spreads, the affected area will become numb. The most important thing is to get the area warm as quickly as possible. If your skin does not return to normal within an hour, contact your doctor or go to the emergency department.