A winter storm system is forecast to descend across Kansas Friday and Saturday with snowfall averaging between one to four inches in most regions of the state. Heavier snowfall is forecast for far northeast Kansas. Gusty winds, cold temperatures and wind chills are expected across much of the state. Slick roads are possible with low visibility at times.
The Kansas Division of Emergency Management will activate the State Emergency Operations Center in Topeka to an enhanced steady state to monitor weather conditions and stand by to receive any requests for state assistance.
“I encourage all Kansans to stay warm and safe during the projected snow storm in the coming days,” said Governor Laura Kelly. “Avoid travel if possible and keep an eye on the weather forecast as the storm moves and develops.”
“Kansans are urged to change or delay their travel plans in these areas until the storm moves through,” said Jonathan York, Response and Recovery Branch director. “If you plan to travel, use caution and make sure your car emergency kit is stocked.”
Winter road conditions are accessible by dialing 5-1-1 from your mobile phone anywhere in Kansas; outside Kansas call 1-866-511-5368 (KDOT). Road conditions many also be viewed on the Kansas Department of Transportation web site at http://kandrive.org.
If you must travel, be sure your car’s gas tank is full and you have an emergency kit. Vehicle emergency kits should include blankets, flashlights, batteries, a cell phone charger, hand-warmers, high-energy food snacks, bottled water, necessary medications, a snow shovel, flares and other emergency supplies. Make sure your cell phone is charged and someone is aware of your itinerary, including expected time of arrival.
Information on winter driving tips is available from the Kansas Highway Patrol at http://www.kansashighwaypatrol.org/259/Winter-Driving-Tips. You can also follow the Kansas Highway Patrol on Facebook and Twitter at www.kansashighwaypatrol.org
Pets and Livestock
Know the limits: Just like people, pets’ cold tolerance can vary from pet to pet based on their coat, body fat stores, activity level, and health. Be aware of your pet’s tolerance for cold weather, and adjust accordingly.
- Stay inside. Cats and dogs should be kept inside during cold weather.
- Make some noise: A warm vehicle engine can be an appealing heat source for outdoor and feral cats, but it’s deadly. Check underneath your car, bang on the hood, and honk the horn before starting the engine to encourage feline hitchhikers to abandon their roost under the hood.
- Check the paws: Check your dog’s paws frequently for signs of cold-weather injury or damage, such as cracked paw pads or bleeding.
- Play dress-up: If your dog has a short coat or seems bothered by the cold weather, consider a sweater or dog coat.
- Wipe down: During walks, your dog’s feet, legs and belly may pick up deicers, antifreeze, or other chemicals that could be toxic. When you get back inside, wipe down (or wash) your pet’s feet, legs and belly to remove these chemicals and reduce the risk that your dog will be poisoned after (s)he licks them off of his/her feet or fur. Consider using pet-safe deicers on your property to protect your pets and the others in your neighborhood.
- Stay home: Hot cars are a known threat to pets, but cold cars also pose significant risk to your pet’s health. You’re already familiar with how a car can rapidly cool down in cold weather; it becomes like a refrigerator, and can rapidly chill your pet. Pets that are young, old, ill, or thin are particularly susceptible to cold environments and should never be left in cold cars. Limit car travel to only that which is necessary, and don’t leave your pet unattended in the vehicle.
- Prevent poisoning: Clean up any antifreeze spills quickly, as even small amounts of antifreeze can be deadly.
- Protect family: Odds are your pet will be spending more time inside during the winter, so it’s a good time to make sure your house is properly pet-proofed.
- Avoid ice: When walking your dog, stay away from frozen ponds, lakes and other water. You don’t know if the ice will support your dog’s weight, and if your dog breaks through the ice it could be deadly.
- Provide shelter: We don’t recommend keeping any pet outside for long periods of time, but if you are unable to keep your dog inside during cold weather, provide him/her with a warm, solid shelter against wind. Make sure that they have unlimited access to fresh, non-frozen water (by changing the water frequently or using a pet-safe, heated water bowl). The floor of the shelter should be off of the ground (to minimize heat loss into the ground) and the bedding should be thick, dry and changed regularly to provide a warm, dry environment. The door to the shelter should be positioned away from prevailing winds. Space heaters and heat lamps should be avoided because of the risk of burns or fire. Heated pet mats should also be used with caution because they are still capable of causing burns.
For more information on pet care go to https://www.avma.org/public/PetCare/Pages/Cold-weather-pet-safety.aspx
Cold weather safety for livestock
Companion animals aren’t the only animals in need of protection during the winter months. Livestock, including horses, have their own unique considerations and needs when the weather gets colder.
- Provide appropriate shelter from the elements: Livestock can generally tolerate cold temperatures, but wind, rain, or snow will require a greater expenditure of calories. With that in mind, be sure they have a way to get out of the elements, especially the wind. Blankets can help protect horses, but a structural shelter with proper ventilation and dry bedding is the best method of protection. If you do blanket your horses, be sure to check underneath often for signs of injury, infection, or malnutrition.
- Keep ice to a minimum to prevent injury, and remember to keep driveways clear so veterinarians and farriers can access your animals. Prevent mud management issues in the winter with proper preparation, whether that’s through use of material like gravel, sand, or woodchips, or through other methods.
- Consider the amount and quality of feed: Besides taking shelter, livestock keep warm by expending energy, which means they need to consume enough calories to heat themselves.
- Ensure access to water: It is crucial that your herd has access to fresh and unfrozen water. Tank heaters or heated buckets can help keep water at a temperature your animals are more comfortable drinking. Livestock will not consume adequate amounts of water if it is near freezing, and consuming enough water is important to your animals’ health and well-being in winter months.
For a complete list of items for an emergency kit, go to www.ready.gov.