With lows forecast in the single digits and daytime highs not expected to reach the freezing mark over the next week, outside activities can be brutal, and even dangerous for some people who have to work outside.

Perhaps no job is more difficult to cope with in subfreezing temperatures than that of a firefighter who has to work in water that freezes in minutes, leaving a mixture of fire and ice behind.

A local fire official said his department does do have to make adjustments during the winter months for both fire and EMS.

"Obviously, using water is a big issue in freezing temperatures," Maysville Fire Chief Kevin Doyle said. "The key is to keep it moving. When a hose is not in use, we leave just enough water flowing to keep the water in the line from freezing."

Keeping crews fresh and warm also presents a challenge for his department, Doyle said.

"We often have to switch crews working fire scenes a little more often in the winter, and use our ambulances as makeshift rehab units to warm any crews that need to rewarm after being out in the elements," he said.

Not only firefighters but consideration is also given to patients who are being served by ambulance crews, Doyle said.

"We also use fluid warmers on our ambulances so that any fluids given to patients are warm," he said. " We also try to stock up on linens, blankets or any other supplies that would be helpful when treating patients that have been exposed to cold temperatures."

And while the department is prepared to work no matter what extremes temperatures might reach, Doyle is urging area residents to use caution to prevent an emergency from taking place.

As the cold season continues, here are a few safety tips from Doyle:

 -- Never use your cooking oven to heat your home.

--Do not rely on portable heaters for permanent heat.

-- Do not use extension cords when using portable heaters or other appliances that may overload extension cords.

-- Have chimneys swept/cleaned annually.

-- Keep children three feet away from any hot area/fireplace/woodstove/gas stove etc.

-- Make sure all smoke detectors are in working order and test them monthly.

For county road workers, working outside is the norm, although some of that work can be performed from the cab of a truck or other equipment. Even so, Mason County Judge-Executive Joe Pfeffer said consideration is given to county employees when the temperatures fall, by limiting the amount of time they are working outdoors. He said most dress in warm layers and take breaks wither inside or in their vehicles to get warmed up.

As the county's chief executive, Pfeffer urges residents to be good neighbors and to checks on their neighbors, especially those who are elderly.

As a good neighbor, the county does have a limited amount of firewood cleared from county roads that is available to those in dire need. He also said Licking Valley CAP operates a fuel program and the Ministerial Association often offers help to those in dire straights.

For animals, Humane Society of Buffalo Trace President Rebecca Cartmell urges area residents to take their pets inside if at all possible. For those who cannot bring animals in, it is essential that a shelter which protects them from the elements is available, along with fresh food and plenty of fresh water. Bedding made from straw or other materials is also important, she said.

If feral cats live nearby, a shelter made from a foam cooler or storage container and padded with straw or newspaper can provide some relief from the harsh weather.

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