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When getting set for winter … take care

November 16, 2008
By Bonnie S. Peck, For The Leader-Herald

As the days and nights become cooler, thoughts turn to preparations for the winter season.

There are several chores typically carried out during this time of year.

Those may include storing lawn mowers and gas grills, changing or adding antifreeze to our cars, hanging holiday lights, and putting up storm windows or plastic for insulation from the wind.

Each of these activities are important in their own right, but require thought and concern for the safety of family and pets.

A garage or storage shed would be an acceptable place to store a lawn mower or grill.

In the case of the lawnmower, be sure to empty the gas into a gas storage container and unhook the spark plug.

Commercial additives are available as well that help "winterize" gasoline.

Please note, if storing a lawn mower in the basement or an attached garage, it is recommended that gasoline not be left in the tank.

If oil will be left in the machine, be sure to change it prior to next season.

In the case of the gas grill, there are several things to keep in mind.

If it will be used throughout the winter, be sure to place it in a location that is protected from wind and snow, but extremely well ventilated.

If storing a gas grill in the garage, be sure to bring it outside while using it.

Do not cook in the garage.

If it will not be used during the winter months, it can be left outside as long as it is well protected from the elements.

No matter where the gas grill will be stored, it is important to clean it thoroughly first so it doesn't attract rodents.

Be sure to remove the gas tank.

That should never be stored in the house, basement, or attached garage.

Many people put their holiday lights up early to avoid standing in the cold of winter.

While this can be a great idea, try to keep a couple things in mind.

Many small animals such as rabbits, squirrels, and chipmunks have not gone into hibernation yet.

Therefore, roll up the ends of the cord and secure them to a post until the snow flies or the holidays are here.

Otherwise, the cords may get chewed and frayed- becoming a fire hazard.

If hanging plastic on windows for winter insulation, keep in mind that small children are curious and will pull on loose plastic.

Be sure to trim any excess from around the edges. If the job was performed with a staple gun, make sure the staples are embedded deep enough that a child won't be able to pull the plastic free or worse, remove one of the staples.

This is also the time of year to add antifreeze to vehicles.

While antifreeze does wonders for your car, it is deadly to dogs, people, and other animals. A small amount left on the ground can prove to be disastrous to man's best friend if he happens to lap it up. Antifreeze has a sweet taste that is appealing to dogs and it only takes a small dose to be lethal. The initial symptoms of antifreeze poisoning may include vomiting, unsteadiness on the feet, tremors, depression, thirst and frequent urination.

These symptoms can begin as soon as 30 minutes after ingestion and may last for 12 hours at which time the symptoms will disappear.

At this point, the liver will have broken down the ethylene glycol, the active ingredient in antifreeze.

Further symptoms may not be noticeable for days and irreparable damage may be occurring.

Vomiting may reoccur, as well as loss of appetite, dehydration, inability to urinate, salivation, seizures, mouth ulcers, coma and death.

If you suspect your dog has ingested antifreeze, take him to your Veterinarian immediately. With proper treatment within the first 12 hours, complete recovery is possible.

Prevent antifreeze poisoning by avoiding spills when adding or changing antifreeze and wipe and store containers where animals are unable to get to them. In the past few years there have been new products on the market that are advertised as "pet safe" and are unpleasant to smell or taste.

If you have pets or even small children, these may be a better choice for your car.



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