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Wind chill advisory no surprise

Alan Fleeger, of Butler, walks with his Staffordshire Terrier, Gunner, at Butler Memorial Park on Wednesday, Jan. 19, 2022. Joseph Ressler/Butler Eagle

The National Weather Service in Pittsburgh issued a wind chill advisory Wednesday that could produce wind chill temperatures as low as -10 to -15 for several counties in Eastern Ohio and Western Pennsylvania, including Butler.

Pat Herold, a meteorologist with the NWS in Pittsburgh, said the advisory will last from 7 p.m. Wednesday to 8:30 a.m. Thursday.

The minimum wind chill for Butler County will be -2, according to a weather map on the NWS Pittsburgh website.

“This is January in Western Pennsylvania,” Herold said. “We’ll get these cold snaps. Stay in unless you have go out, and if you do, dress warm.”

NWS advice for avoiding hypothermia or frostbite includes keeping the head covered; dressing in multiple loose-fitting, warm layers; wearing an overcoat that is a tightly-woven fabric and water repellent; using mittens instead of gloves; and wearing wool socks under waterproof boots.

Of injuries related to the cold temperatures, 50% happen to those age 60 or older, 75% are males, and 20% occur inside the home, according to the NWS.

Pets also are susceptible to extremely cold temperatures if the proper steps are not taken to keep them safe, said Dr. Jennifer Kennedy, a veterinarian with Deer Creek Animal Hospital.

Dogs with long, thick double coats, such as huskies, malamutes and Great Pyrenees, love cold weather and can remain outside longer than other breeds, Kennedy said.

“It’s what they’re bred for,” she said.

Dogs that live outside full-time grow a thicker coat to acclimate to extreme cold, but they should be provided with shelter and heat in low temperatures, Kennedy said.

Dogs who are accustomed to living full-time in a heated home with their owners should only be outside for short periods, and small breeds should only be allowed outside long enough to do their business before being let back inside, Kennedy said.

The most common injury to dogs Kennedy sees is ulcerated, irritated paws from walking on ice-melting chemicals that are not pet safe.

“This is not something many people think about when walking their dogs, especially in cities,” Kennedy said.

Paws should be cleaned when a walk is over to prevent irritation to the pads.

Kennedy said the pads on a dog’s paws are like callouses and fairly tough regarding walking on a frozen surface.

“Booties do work, but some dogs just don’t tolerate them,” she said.

Temperatures below freezing will continue through the weekend, according to Herold.