Brookings County K9 Search and Rescue
Brookings County K9
Search and Rescue
Brookings, South Dakota
605-695-8444
Wind/Weather
You are responsible for your own safety and the safety of your dog. If at anytime you feel it is not
safe outside for you or your dog due to weather conditions, do not continue the search and seek
shelter.

Before deploying SAR dogs, handlers must be aware of local weather conditions. Geographic areas
with weather predictions of tornadoes, blizzards, hurricanes, and so on, should be avoided until it is
safe. When driving to the search location be sure to listen to local radio stations for weather
information. Search Managers should inform handlers of current weather conditions and any possible
storms in the area. Search Managers should radio regular weather updates.

Lightning                                                                                              

Bolts of lightning heat up the surrounding air to 50,000 degrees Fahrenheit. The rapid heating of air
produces a shock wave, or thunder. You and your SAR dog should not be outdoors when it is
lightning!

When outdoors, listen for thunder. Lightning can travel sideways up to 10 miles, even if the sky is
blue where you are. If you hear thunder, don’t wait for it to start raining, seek a safe shelter. Any
shelter with plumbing is considered safe (the pipes will ground the lightning).  

If no shelter is available, get low. Lightning hits the tallest object. When above the tree line on a
mountain, you become the tallest object around. Get below the tree line as quickly as possible, and in
heavily wooded areas find a bunch of small trees to shelter in.

Crouch down if you are in an open area. Stay away from tall trees. If you are working with one or
more flankers, do not huddle together.  Space yourself apart from each other.

Get out of water or out of small boats. Avoid standing in puddles of water, even if wearing rubber
boots.

Avoid metal! Don’t lean against vehicles. Drop metal backpacks and stay away from fences and
exposed metal sheds. Drop anything you are holding that has metal and remove anything metal from
your dog. Small metal objects can cause severe burns.

Tornadoes                                                                                             

When driving to a search and a funnel cloud is visible, do not take shelter under overpasses. Wind
speeds increase tremendously under overpasses.

Search Managers and handlers should be aware of any Tornado watches or warnings. You should
not be conducting searches during either.

If you are caught in the open during a tornado, find a depression in the ground, creek bed, etc. Lay
down on your side on the ground and your dog downwind of you. Leave your backpack on, it will help
protect you and your dog against flying debris. If you have a helmet, put it on!

Tornado clues to watch for if you are outside:
  • The sky turns green or a greenish black color.
  • Clouds moving by very fast, rotating or  converging in one area of the sky.
  • Debris falling from the sky.
  • A sound of falling water or rushing air at first, but then turning into a sound like a roaring jet
    engine.
  • If you see a tornado and it is not moving to the right or to the left relative to trees or landmarks
    in the distance, it may be moving straight towards you. If possible get out of its path.

In The Snow                                                                                          

Tracks in snow are visibly easy to follow. It is when footprints fill in with drifting or falling snow, or
maybe someone is trapped under snow from an avalanche, that dogs are needed.

Depending on their training, snow and weather conditions, dogs can track and find scent in snow.
Since snow is cold, bacteria activity on skin rafts will be low. Snow, however, is basically free of other
scents, so dogs should not have many problems picking out the lower levels of human scent.

New and colder snow has more air in and flowing through it. Warmer snow is denser and contains
less air.

Ground below snow is normally warmer than the snow itself, causing rafts and/or scent to rise to the
surface of the snow.

A person buried under snow is warmer than snow (even after death) causing scent to rise to the
surface.

A blizzard consists of 35 mph winds or more.  Blowing snow can reduce visibility to less than 1/4 mile
for up to three hours or more. White Outs occur during blizzard conditions with existing snow on the
ground and snow blowing across the road. All you can see is white.

Wind Chills occur when wind and cold air temperatures combine to drive down body temperature,
especially to any exposed skin.

Winter Clothing                                                                                      
  1. Many layers of thin clothing are better than a single layer of thick clothing.
  2. Outer garments should be tightly woven, water repellent and hooded.
  3. Most body heat is lost through the top of the head. Always wear a hat.
  4. Mittens are better than gloves. Fingers stay warmer when touching each other and especially
    when using a small chemical hand warmer inside your mittens.
  5. Wear a scarf or cold weather mask over your mouth, protecting lungs from extreme cold.
  6. Take frequent breaks to warm-up and avoid overexertion.
  7. Sweating may cause chills and hypothermia.
Winter Gear                     

Shaded goggles may be worn over your
eyes to help prevent snow blindness
and also protect your eyes from wind
chill. OTG (Over-The-Glasses) goggles
are also available for those handlers
who wear glasses and also helps keep
glasses from fogging over.

Snowshoes do not do much good in
light, powdery snow, but are good when
trying to walk on packed snow drifts or
denser snow.  

Wear boots that are insulated for cold
weather. Boots for your dog are also a
good idea. These will help prevent
frostbitten toes for both of you.

When working on ice, wear traction
cleats that are worn over the bottom of
your boots.

Carry water for yourself and your dog.
Even in cold weather you both can
become dehydrated. Do not let your dog
eat snow in extremely cold weather, as
this will lower his core temperature
much faster.
Summer Time                 

While working your dogs, offer them
water often and wet down their heads
and underbellies. Do not let them
drink a lot of water at one time. Do not
pour water over their backs. Hair can
trap moisture against the skin and in
direct sunshine can possibly turn to
steam. This is especially true for black
dogs.

Your SAR dog will get tired much
faster when working in hot and humid
conditions and panting will lessen
their scenting abilities.

Watch your dog for early signs of
hyperthermia and break them when
necessary. Some high-drive dogs,
may need to be forced to lay down.
Find a shady spot or a small stream
for them to lay in for approximately 15
minutes. Do not resume work until
rapid panting slows down and the
tongue starts pulling back in.
Winter Time                   

When a dog’s temperature lowers, his
first reaction is to shiver which
increases heat production. Blood
circulation shifts away from legs and
feet to internal organs. If your dog is
shivering get him inside a warm
vehicle or building as soon as
possible. Consider a coat for your dog
(depending on fur type) or if it is
extremely cold.

In mild cases of hypothermia, use
heating pads, hot water bottles, or give
him a warm water bath. Severe cases
require a Veterinarian’s attention.

A dog’s toes, tails, ear tips, and
scrotum are the most common
frostbite areas. Dogs are hesitant to
put all four feet down when they have
cold feet. Frostbitten tissue appears
pale and is cold to the touch. Warm the
area slowly and give it time to heal.
Call or visit a Veterinarian if it does not
heal in three or four days.
Stay tuned to NOAA Weather
Radio, your local radio and
TV stations, or The Weather
Channel for updates, watches,
warnings or emergency
instructions.
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