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Safety tips for when the weather turns bitterly cold

Western New Yorkers will face bitterly cold wind chills through Friday morning. So here's some cold-weather advice for you, your pet and your car.

For people

  • Limit the amount of time you are outside.
  • Cover up skin to limit exposure when you are outdoors.
  • Wear multiple layers of clothing and keep your head covered with a hat.
  • Keep an emergency supply kit in your home for the winter. Here's what the Red Cross says you should have: at least a three-day supply of water, with 1 gallon per person per day; at least a three-day supply of non-perishable, easy-to-prepare food; flashlight; battery-powered or hand-crank radio; extra batteries; a 7-day supply of medications and other medical items; a multi-purpose tool; sanitation and personal hygiene items; copies of personal documents; a cell phone and charger; family and emergency contact information; extra cash; baby supplies, like bottles and diapers; pet supplies; sand, rock salt or non-clumping kitty litter for walkways; warm clothing and extra blankets for all household members; ample alternate heating methods, like a fireplace or wood-burning stove.

Paul Wert walks with his dogs Esther and Pink along Elmwood Avenue on Wednesday. (Mark Mulville/Buffalo News)

For pets

First, a basic rule: if you think it's too cold for you to be outside for any real length of time, it's also too cold for your pet.

Here's some other winter-weather advice from the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals:

  • Towel dry your pet as soon as he or she comes inside, especially on their feet.
  • On long walks, bring a towel to clean off your pet's paws, which may be irritated by ice-melting materials on the street and sidewalk.
  • Wash and dry your pet's feet and stomach to remove ice, salt and chemicals.
  • Check for cracks in paw pads or redness between your pet's toes.
  • Feed your pet a little more during cold weather months because they burn extra energy trying to stay warm.
  • Don't leave pets alone in your car.

There are lots of things you can do to keep yourself safe and get where you're going in the winter. (Robert Kirkham/Buffalo News)

For vehicles

  • Keep your gas tank at least half full to help prevent your fuel line from freezing.
  • Fully clean snow and ice from your vehicles before driving.
  • Make sure tires are properly inflated.
  • Make sure you have sufficient supplies of windshield-washer fluid and anti-freeze.
  • Don't run your vehicle in an enclosed area.
  • Keep an emergency kit in your vehicle. According to the Department of Homeland Security, it should include: a shovel; windshield scraper; flashlight; battery-powered radio; extra batteries; water; snack food; matches; extra hats, socks and mittens; a first aid kit with a pocket knife; necessary medications; at least one blanket; tow chain or rope; road salt and sand; booster cables; emergency flares; a fluorescent distress flag.
  • Don't use cruise control while driving on any slippery surface.

Here's more winter advice from the AAA. And here are some winter driving tips.

[Related: What to expect with the weather over the next 36 hours]

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