As I write this, it is -4 degrees with a 36 below wind chill. Yes, that minus 36. The news is full of stories about people failing to cope with these life threatening temperatures. Those of you who live in the northern climes are more familiar with extreme cold best practices. But for those of us in the milder areas where a mere threat of a few inches of snow or ice causes a run on groceries and gas, these extreme temperatures are unfamiliar and especially dangerous.
Here are 5 tips to better prepare for dealing with extreme cold:
1. Clear the area around your heat source. Keep flammable items, young children, and pets a safe distance away. Open space also allows better heat circulation and can prevent accidental house fires and fume build-up. Change or clean the filter often and service your heat source.
2. Frozen water pipes can happen to any home, no matter how new or presumably well-built. Open the cabinets below your sinks, especially if they are on an outside wall. If your shower or tub faucets are on an outside wall, locate the access panel and open it to let warmer air in. Although it may drive you crazy, let the faucets drip. If the noise keeps you awake, try putting a folded paper towel under the drip. It obviously won’t absorb the water, but it will soften the sound. For long term solutions to frozen pipe prevention, consult your plumber or hardware store.
3. We automatically think to do a grocery run before a forecasted storm, but not often before an extreme temperature dip. For the elderly and those with medical issues, going out in extreme cold can be as difficult as going out in a storm. Check that you have an adequate supply of mandatory medications, oxygen tanks, and necessary medical supplies. There is still an increased chance of power outages. If you have life sustaining medical equipment that must remain operational at all times, be sure that you are on the priority list with your utility company and have a generator or back-up plan if you should lose power.
As for food, get the bread and milk and toss in some salad fixings, fruit, cheese, and lunchmeat. If the power goes out, it’s nice to have something more than dry cereal and snack foods.
4. Often overlooked in warmer weather climates, is a cold weather kit for your car. While kitty litter, road salt, and a shovel might make it into the trunk, don’t stop there. Add a warm blanket, hat, water-resistant gloves, scarf, socks, and boots. If you want to go a little further, add a couple of protein bars and a zip lock bag with toilet paper, wipes, and hand sanitizer. These can come in handy any time of year. Water bottles may rupture, so carry those with you as you come and go.
5. Keep spare weather gear at your place of work. Temperatures can fall fast and an extra pair of gloves, hat, or scarf in your desk or locker can literally be a life saver.
This is by no means an exhaustive list. Individual circumstances and experiences vary. Run a few what-if scenarios through your mind and prepare. You’ll not only find your preparations convenient, they truly may save your life.
Thanks for reading.