Those who can’t hunker down during the cold snap should take precautions

While many people plan to hunker down and stay warm during the upcoming cold snap, some will have to travel to work or be out and about for other reasons.

Vehicles, especially those parked outdoors, and drivers can also run into problems during the cold spell with mechanical break downs and wintry road conditions. Cars that haven’t been driven over an extended period, which is the case for many as people have been working from their homes during the pandemic, can have battery failure during extreme cold weather.

“Whenever we are looking at temperatures like these, we are looking at much more dangerous road conditions, even if we don’t get a lot of snow,” said Skylar McKinley, AAA Colorado.

McKinley suggests that people check out their vehicles closely before the bone chilling cold arrives. Those who do have to venture out and drive should plan for extra time to get to their destination. Make sure to completely scrape and brush all windows before driving. Have a cellphone, in case of emergency, and make sure to pack a blanket or extra clothing in the vehicle, along with snacks, water and a medical safety kit.

“This is a unique circumstance, these will be the coldest temperatures since the pandemic started and people have been driving,” McKinley said. “Plan to take your time and be safe.”

If a tire pressure gauge comes on, McKinley suggests that drivers respond even if it is inconvenient. A low or damaged tire can cause steering problems, which could lead to an accident. Tires should be filled to the PSI listed on the vehicle’s door jam or in the owner’s manual. Good tires, with proper tread depth, is also a must to keep vehicles from swerving or getting stuck, spinning out on icy and snowy surfaces.

One thing drivers should not do is warmup cars with the doors unlocked.

During the pandemic, car thefts are on the rise because of financial hardships, said Carole Walker, executive director or the ‎Rocky Mountain Insurance Information Association. Aurora has reported a 68% increase in car thefts.

“On cold winter mornings, car thieves are out looking for puffers,” Walker said.

Residents and homeowners can avoid cold-weather damage to the exterior of their homes by taking precautions.

To avoid ice damming, an ice buildup on gutters that can cause roof and gutter damage, residents should make sure that their gutters are clean and free of debris. Down spouts should direct water at least five feet away from the foundation of the home, Walker said. Water hoses should be disconnected from outdoor water faucets and the faucets should be turned completely off — no drips here.

Coloradans are urged to take cold weather precautions for pets. Since 2019, there were at least 42 animal deaths related to frigid weather across the country, according to PETA. Most such animal deaths are not reported, according to the organization.

Pet owners should bring their animal indoors during bitter cold weather. If pets go outside, they should be clothed with a coat and booties to protect their paws. Animals should not be left outside for extended periods. Walks should be short and make sure to keep pets hydrated.

 

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