Baby, it’s cold outside. And, for many of you, it’s really, really, really cold. The National Weather Service issued warnings about extreme cold temperatures due to a widespread arctic blast covering the entire Midwest and sliding both south and east. In fact, areas from the western and northern Great Lakes into the Upper Midwest, as well as the northern Plains and the Central Plains, along with the northern Rockies, are likely to experience subzero temperatures, with wind chills dipping as low as 30 degrees below zero.
But even though there is nothing you can do to really prepare yourself for how miserable temperatures can be when experience 30-degree-below-zero cold, there are some things you can do in order to keep yourself, your pets, and your home safe and in the best working order possible ahead of the deep arctic blast.
It would be nice if, when temperatures plunge to this level of cold, folks could just stay inside, hibernate under their blankets, and watch Netflix. In fact, officials advise that, if possible, you should stay at home when temperatures are this cold.
“We advise that people stay home if possible. If you must be out, make sure to take steps to stay safe during this extreme cold,” said Stacy Burks, executive director of the Southern Missouri chapter of the American Red Cross.
But staying home because of the cold is not possible for many, so, if you do have to leave the warmth of your blankets and go outside, dress warmly and in layers to protect against the cold, taking care to cover all exposed skin. In fact, layers of lighter clothes are much more preferable than a single layer or two of extremely heavy clothes in cold weather. Hats and gloves are a must, as they help your body maintain body heat.
And bring your pets in, as well. If you are cold, they are cold. If they can’t come inside, please make sure they have a shelter of some sort that can keep them warm and out of the cold temperatures, and that they have access to unfrozen water at all times.
Remember what the Red Cross refers to as the “three feet rule.” If you are using a space heater to battle the cold, it needs to be kept on a flat, hard surface with anything flammable, such as paper, clothing, bedding, curtains, or rugs a minimum of three feet away from it. Also, space heaters require supervision, and so do fireplaces. Make sure space heaters are turned off and fireplace embers have been squashed before leaving the room or going to bed.
And if you are using a fireplace during the cold weather, make sure you are using a glass or metal fire screen, and that it is large enough to catch popping sparks or logs that may roll off the fire itself. As cold as it is outside, catching yourself or your house on fire isn’t going to make it any better.
Protect your pipes, as well. Extremely cold weather can, without preventative measures, cause water in your pipes to freeze and swell, which can make your pipes burst. During cold weather, run water, just at a trickle, to prevent your pipes from freezing and bursting. Open the kitchen and bathroom cabinets, as well — this allows warmer air to circulate around the now-exposed plumbing, which will also help prevent frozen pipes. Keep the garage doors closed during cold weather, especially if there are water lines in the garage.
And, even though your pocketbook may take a hit with the heating bill, the Red Cross recommends you keep the thermostat set at the same temperature day and night when it’s cold out. And even though your heating bill may be higher because of that, it will certainly be more cost effective than frozen and burst water pipes.
Also, the Red Cross reminds us that the kitchen is for cooking. Do not use the stove or oven to try and heat your home.
Use generators outside only — and that means keeping them out of the basement and garage, as well, when in use. Furthermore, don’t hook the generator up to your home’s wiring. The safest method is to connect the equipment you want to use directly to the outlets located in the generator.
Stay warm during the cold days ahead, and, with these tips, you can stay safe, as well.
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