With an Arctic Blast hovering over the Midwest, there may be periods of heavy snowfall, high winds and subzero temperatures that can prevent you from leaving home. When you’re inside all day, you may not be aware of the true affect the cold may have on you until you are out in the elements. Being prepared will help keep you warm and safe this Winter. If you have to work or go to school in the elements, there are many ways to keep safe and warm.
Winterizing Your Home
1. Have your home furnace or heating source checked in October, before the colder temperatures come in. Be sure to change any filters also. Having these key heating elements tested and serviced before Winter will ensure that everything is in working order and ready to go when you need to switch it on. Consider installing a carbon monoxide monitor to keep you safe from harmful fumes.
2. Close up gaps in doorways, replacing caulking and weather stripping and apply plastic to windows that are poorly insulated. If you have a window unit that you keep in year round, cover it on the outside to prevent cold air from seeping inside. Use heavier drapes if available, to keep back the cold draft. Use door draft blockers or rolled blankets near the base of entrance doors to prevent cold drafts.
3. Use safety precautions when utilizing fireplaces and space heaters. Be sure fireplaces are clean and the chimney is in proper working order, and free from debris. Space heaters are a major cause of house fires, so using them in rooms that have open space is recommended. Avoid using space heaters with shorted cords and those that do not have a safety switch that turns it off if tipped over or too close to clothing and furniture. Do not keep space heaters running if you will not be at home. a fire can be sparked at any time.
4. While using an oven to heat your home is not recommended, baking cookies, pies and roasts can help to heat your kitchen and dining area when in use. Limit cooking that gives off steam because it increases humidity which can make the air cooler in the home.
5. Scented candles in glass containers or other safe holders can not only give off a little heat, but choosing scents that remind you of warm things like apple pie, vanilla cookies or cinnamon sticks and hazelnut can make your room appear warmer.
6. If heating a larger, older home is difficult, try moving into a smaller room and closing the heat off to unused rooms as well. Use area rugs on wood or tile floors and keep blankets and throws in each room to grab when you are feeling cold.
7. If you are leaving your home for a long period of time and temperatures will be low or even sub zero, run a very small stream of water in your faucets to prevent the pipes from freezing up. Cleaning gutters can also help prevent freezing debris causing snow to build up. When the snow melts, if there is a blockage, roof damage or exterior damage can take place. If needed, pipes can also be wrapped and further insulated to prevent freezing and subsequent leaks or floods.
8. If you have ceiling fans or other small fans, reversing them or putting them on low can actually help circulate heat in a colder room.
9. Have your vehicle checked for low or damaged tires, tire pressure, battery life, broken lights and the heating source. Under-inflated tires also help with traction. Be sure all fluids are refilled or replaced, and that the windshield wipers are in working order. During snow fall, it is best to have headlights on and brake lights working, so people can see that you are stopping. Spare tires are a must in case you have a blow out.
10. Whenever you are leaving, be sure that you have a charged cell phone and important telephone numbers in case you are stranded somewhere.
11. In case of emergency, place blankets, a sealed gas can with gas in it, flashlights and extra gloves. Tucking emergency cash or money card in the glove compartment may come in handy if you need to get food or other essentials. Jumper cables are also important to have.
12. When driving in poor road conditions and with low visibility, try stopping a full car length or two behind the person in front of you. Sliding may cause you to bump into them; likewise if someone bumps into you, it prevents you from hitting the person in front of you.
13. Dress in thin layers. Thermal undergarments or leggings can easily be worn under your regular slacks to keep your legs warm. Wearing 2 pairs of socks or very thick wool socks can keep your feet warm. Dressing in layers makes adjusting to temperature changes and your own body heat easier.
13. Don’t forget the hat, scarf and gloves. Heat can easily escape the head and feet. Protecting your head with a good winter hat will keep your head warm while wearing a scarf and gloves can prevent your neck and upper body as well as your hands. Boots that have a steel toe or insulation with rubber soles will help give your warmth and traction in icy conditions.
14. Always apply lotion. Wearing lotion is like putting on a thin layer of clothing, or adding second skin. It coats and protects the skin, and massaging it in promotes circulation, which can also keep you warm.
15. Try warm beverages like hot cocoa, tea and cider. Soups and hot sandwiches also help to elevate your temperature. Adding a little spice to your food will also kick things up a notch.
16. Moving around or exercising will increase your body temperature. Even stretches at your desk or marching in place with your feet under the desk will help get your blood flowing and temperature rising if the office or classroom is cold.
17. Invest in a thick robe, Snuggie or throw blanket that you can wear around the house. If your home is drafty, this will help keep your body warm.
18. Be social and invite people over. The body heat will warm things up right away! Even having a pet to cuddle with can help keep you warm when the temperature drops at night.
19. A nice warm bath can help you relax and warm up. Be sure to dry off completely and wrap up in that robe or blanket to keep your temperature regulated.
In case of a storm
20. Gather essential items that you will need. Fill all prescriptions; stock up on pain/fever relievers; cough and cold medicine like Mucinex; and throat lozenges.
21. Stock your pantry with bottled water, canned goods, and other ready to eat items like crackers, cereal, nuts, juice in bottles or cans, peanut butter, and other items that don’t have to be heated in case your lights or gas go out. Don’t forget a manual can opener. Paper products such as plates, cups, forks, and napkins are essential as well.
22. Keep a tote with the following: blankets, flashlights, NEW batteries, weather radio, an emergency cell phone (like the Obama phone), and a first aid kit. It would also help to have important phone numbers handy just in case you need assistance or medical treatment.
23. Check on your neighbors, especially if you have one that is elderly or disabled. Offer to go to the store for them to get essential items when a storm is being predicted. If they are living alone, check on them to be sure they are warm and safe. Often, elderly persons or disabled persons may forget to turn their heat on, or turn it up too high. Knock, ask a landlord, or stay in touch with a relative who has access to the home just in case.
24. Share with one another. If you or your neighbor weren’t able to get to a store, see if you can share items. Maybe you have bottled water and they have rock salt for the drive. Do all you can to be sure that you and your neighbors are safe.
25. In case of emergency needs, contact your local agencies for assistance such as The Red Cross, Salvation Army, Church, Shelter or Community Center.