South Dakota weather: What to do around your house and for your pets as the first freeze arrives
First frost forecasted Thursday night in the Black Hills area
RAPID CITY, S.D. – With the first freeze of the season on the forecast, it’s important to know what you need to do before the temperature drops.
As the nights grow colder, the time of year is approaching to start scheduling or doing your own lawn and garden maintenance.
It’s also good to keep animals and pets in mind when a chill comes in.
Sprinklers and hoses
Winterizing sprinklers helps prevent damages that might happen with the freezing temperatures.
The process typically just involved draining the pipes but that may vary based on the type of system.
- Manual drain – Turn off water, look for manual valves at ends and low points of piping, open all the valves and drain the water, and the backflow device also needs to be drained.
- Automatic drain – Turn off water, briefly run one sprinkler head to relieve water pressure, and automatic draining should begin.
- Blow-out – This method forces compressed air through the system. But this method has to be with the proper irrigation system and it is potentially hazardous
- If you haven’t worked with a blow-out system, it’s recommended to contact a professional.
If you are uncomfortable draining yourself, you can contact a professional or business to help you.
But with everyone trying to get it done at the same time, schedules can fill fast. According to Sprinkler Systems Service LLC website, there is no availability until Nov. 16.
If your pipes happen to freeze before you get to winterizing it, turn off the water to the sprinklers and open any drains outside. Then cover the backflow and an exposed pipes with a blanket or towel.
For hoses, you should disconnect the hose, drain it and hang it up for the winter. They will likely last longer, be better protected from the winter weather and be less likely to leak.
Even if there isn’t much concern now for frost, being aware of the nightly temperatures if you still have plants out might be important.
“If it’s 32 or maybe colder, then obviously that can be a concern, and it really depends on what the temperature is projected or expected to be,” Tim Sime, owner of Jolly Lane Greenhouse, said.
Some cool weather crops like cabbage or brussels sprouts should be find with the weather in the 32 degree range.
With others like tomatoes and peppers, it might be a bit of a risk unless they are covered.
Some pots might break if the soil is left in them outside and the cold nights get consistent enough.
“It depends on the kind of pot and the temperatures,” Sime said. “You’ve got to get into some rather cold, freezing temps. If we have 30 degrees tonight, for example, that’s going to have no effect on any pots whatsoever because it’s not cold enough long enough. The soil’s warm at this point.”
Flowers in those pots might freeze off anyway. People could clean off plant material above the soil and place the pots in a garage or shed where they wouldn’t freeze as hard.
For mostly outdoor dogs or cats, it is important to:
- Have water that isn’t frozen
- Give them regular meals
- Have an insulated place like a dog or cat house
- Check extremities like paws and ears to make sure they are healthy and not frost bitten
“They need access to unfrozen water. Regular meals, cause the body warms up as they’re digesting food. They need those extra calories to stay warm,” Heather Jenner, RVT, technician with TLC Pet Hospital, said. “Having a place so they can get out of the wind that’s insulated and also a place to stay dry because once they get wet and then if there’s wind or cold, that’s when they can really get chilled.”
Another thing to keep in mind, for animals in general, is that they might climb into the hood of a vehicle to stay warm.
“A lot of times once we get home from work, cause it’s nice and warm in there, animals will go in and jump up underneath the car, get up under the hood,” Jenner said. “So hitting it just to scare them out and to keep them safe.”
For indoor pets:
- They won’t have many issues if they’re just going out for a short while at a time.
- Once it’s really cold, it’s not good to walk them on things like concrete or hard ground because it can damage their paws. If they are lifting their paws repeatedly, this likely means that they are hurting.
“For those really, really cold days, they need short more frequent times outside just to keep their feet warm,” Jenner said. “If it’s uncomfortable for us, like on our face and nose, it’s probably also uncomfortable for them.”