POCATELLO, Idaho - Thursday brought the first taste of winter weather for the season, and it is a good reminder for residents to make sure they are prepared for all of the chills and thrills the cold brings with it.
That includes keeping pets safe. At McKee's Pet, Garden and Feed Center in Pocatello, manager Travis Brasher said there are a few simple things that can help people avoid having a literal "cool cat" -- or dog.
"Well first of all, they need to have a shelter. They need to be able to get out of the weather -- so a good dog house or a place for a cat to go. That would probably be the best," Brasher said.
Add some straw to separate the pet from the cold ground, or upgrade to a heated pet mat to keep a pup nice and toasty. And obviously, just bringing pets inside is a good idea, Brasher said. If a furry friend gets cabin fever, Brasher said, don't sweat it.
"Eventually, they'll get used to it," he said.
When it comes to a garden, Brasher said covering crops now might save a couple of weeks on any leftover tomatoes.
Keeping people safe this winter is a little more complicated. Luckily, the Southeastern District Health Department comes storm ready -- so does All-Hazards Planner Darin Letzring. Make an emergency car kit and put it in the trunk now, he said.
"No. 1, you want to have a shovel in case you have to shovel your way out. A little bit of extra food and water for probably 24 to 36 hours, and, of course, maybe some blankets and gloves and other warm materials to keep yourself warm for however long," Letzring said.
And have the same things in your house for 72 to 96 hours in case the power goes out for a long time, like it did in Arbon Valley last year. Take the time to check on elderly family members and even neighbors; that can be a great way to warm up your community this winter, too. Letzring said more houses burn down in the winter than any other time of year, so people should get their furnaces checked out now, and have a backup source of heat in case of emergency. But this doesn't have to be all work and no play, Letzring said.
"Getting your car ready getting your house ready, those are work, but one of the fun items is to get your skis ready. So that's one of the good things that comes out of this," he added.
More information is available at www.ready.gov.