Safe Use of Space Heaters & Caring for Your Pets During Extreme Cold

January 29, 2019
Contact:  Suzanne Donovan

Saint Paul Department of Safety and Inspections offers tips on safe use of space heaters in residences and caring for your pets during extreme cold

Saint Paul, MN-- Single-digit and subzero temperatures combined with cold winds can pose immediate danger to humans and their pets. In line with our mission, The Department of Safety and Inspections is offering  some simple safety precautions that can minimize risk and save lives.

Portable space heaters can pose hazards. The National Fire Protection Association reports that space heaters account for one-third of all home fires so following these simple tips is critical.

  • Space heaters should only be used for short periods of time.
  • Do not use gas- or oil-burning space heaters indoors; these are meant for outdoor spaces.
  • Turn off portable heaters when going to bed or leaving a room.
  • Only purchase "UL Listed" heaters which display the UL mark on their label. This is an independent organization which tests for safety.
  • Read and follow all manufacturer's directions for your space heater. Plug them directly into a wall outlet and do not use extension cords.
  • If you smell gas in your gas heater/appliance, do not light it. Leave the area immediately and call your local fire department or gas company.
  • Do not use your oven to heat your home.

 Animals need special attention during cold weather. Please remember these points:

  • Saint Paul Animal Control strongly recommends that pets are housed inside in very cold temperatures.
  • If dogs are outside for more than bathroom breaks or monitored exercise Minnesota State Statute 343.40 requires that proper shelter be provided. Proper shelter standards include: raising the dog house off the frozen ground, adding a windbreak and providing clean nonabsorbent bedding such as straw or  wood chips. Shelters must be large enough to give the dog space to move, but small enough to allow them to maintain body heat.
  • Walking in sub-zero weather on sidewalks that have been salted can also pose dangers to your animal. Take precautions to minimize risks to your pet.
  • Use petroleum jelly or other protectants -- massaging into paw pads before going outside can help protect against salt and chemical agents. Dog booties provide better coverage and can also prevent irritating sand and salt from getting lodged between bare toes.
  • Use pet-friendly ice melts whenever possible.

“Remember this rule of thumb,” said Molly Lunaris, Animal Control supervisor, “if it’s too much for you to be outside it’s probably too much for your pet, too.”

If you have pet related concerns, contact Saint Paul Animal Control at 651-266-1100 or Ramsey County Communications at 651-291-1111.

Saint Paul Animal Control may be reached by phone at 651-266-1100, 7:00 a.m. – 5:00p.m., Monday through Friday, or you may submit a complaint through the DSI Message Center.