Severe cold snap a danger for both people and animals

The freezing temperatures are causing discomfort for some but the cold can be downright dangerous for both people and livestock outside for extended periods of time.

People and pets should avoid being outside for extended periods, unless they're properly protected

It's important for people outside for extended periods of time to dress in warm layers.

The freezing temperatures are causing discomfort for some but the cold can be downright dangerous for both people and livestock outside for extended periods of time.

It’s been tough for those working outside lately. Frigid temperatures, combined with lots of snow and ice make outdoor jobs extra difficult.  

Gerry Moore, with Island Waste Management, said garbage collectors are dealing with snow drifts, and slippery roads and sidewalks   

“These drivers, I mean they're picking up 300, 400 or 500 hundred stops a day, and to do that in and out with the road conditions in and out with the amount of snow and the weather, the cold temperature, makes it very difficult for them to complete their routes,” he said.  

The P.E.I. Petroleum Marketers Association said at a time when oil is in demand — it can be hard to deliver. Properties are often have deep snow around the tank or fill pipe. The group is reminding people they have to clear a path to their fill pipes

Employers are bound by legislation to keep employees safe by providing equipment and training.

Bill Reid, with the Workers Compensation Board, said it's important to dress for the weather.  

“We have to keep our body temperature — at 36 degrees is what we aim for — and we do that by making sure the head is covered, your hands and feet our covered, so any place you're going to lose heat you want to keep it in there,” he said.

It's also a good idea to dress in warm layers, wear a jacket that resists the wind, and have proper footwear to avoid falling.

There are guidelines for working outside. For example someone doing a physical job outside in -26 with winds of 20 km/h should take a break to warm up every one hour and 15 minutes.

Livestock, pets at risk 

Even with electrically heated drinking water systems, some stable owners have been scrambling to keep ahead of the cold.  

Pets and livestock are at risk when the temperature dips so far below zero.

"Every animal needs to have water all the time, so we have heat sources all around the place, for the outdoor horses. For the inside horses, we have to replace iced up buckets, so we're constantly thawing buckets or checking heaters to make sure buckets are working. That's number one," said Jana Hemphill, of Storybook Stables in Brookfield.

Across P.E.I., it was a pretty much as cold as anyone wants it.

In Charlottetown, the Hillsborough River was steamy warm compared to the frigid air above it.

With windchill, temperatures plunged to below -30 on Thursday.

P.E.I. Fire Marshal Dave Rossiter warns of an increase risk as Islanders plug in extra heat sources in their homes.

"When you use space heaters, make sure you give them space. Follow the manufacturer’s guidelines. Make there are no combustibles around them, such as furniture and drapes. And when you go to bed at night, shut them off, leave them off.  Let your own in-house system work," he said.

The sub-zero temperatures kept students at this school inside during recess and lunch. Across the Island, schools delayed opening one hour.

"Well with these extreme temperatures, we wouldn't want any of our students to have frostbite. Even though many of them dress for the weather, the wind is just really raw. So we would rather them just stay inside and play," said Tara Deglan-Gallant, principal of Central Queens Elementary School.

The humane society was getting calls from islanders concerned about pets left to fend for themselves outside.

Donna Marie, animal protection officer at the P.E.I. Humane Society, said severe cold can be deadly to dogs and cats.

"You should probably use the rule of thumb, if you don't want to stay outside too long in the cold, then your pets shouldn't be out," she said.

The humane society is expecting more calls as the cold snap continues.

The best advice for people and pets — stay warm or better yet, stay safe and warm inside.


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