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Midwest winter storm spreading: Tips for surviving power outage

In much of the Midwest, roads are snow-covered, slick and hazardous, thanks to a major winter storm still tracking it’s way across states ranging from Indiana, Michigan and Missouri, to the Dakotas – bringing with it a deep freeze with wind chill warnings stretching from Montana to Alabama and several states in between.

Tips for surviving power outage as winter storm spreads across Midwest
Cartera Media

Brutally frigid winds could make it feel as cold as 50 below in Indianapolis, where additional snow is expected to fall throughout the night for a total accumulation of 15 inches. In Hamilton County, just north of Indianapolis, a travel warning is in effect to prohibit people from driving in order to let emergency crews clear what, in many areas, are already impassable roads due to blowing snow.

Indiana isn’t the only state plagued with treacherous driving conditions. Snow-covered roads and freezing winds have also made driving hazardous from the Dakotas to Michigan and Missouri, where folks are also getting ready for the next batch of dangerous weather – a deep freeze that’s expected to dunk temperatures to record lows in several states across the U.S.

Forecasters are predicting the dangerously frigid cold spell will impact more than 50 percent of the U.S., lasting at least until Tuesday. They're also warning that wind gusts of 25 miles per hour could create wind chills in some areas, such as Northeastern Montana, that make it feel as low as 60 degrees below zero.

It’s already extremely cold in many states in the Midwest, with Indianapolis and Chicago expected to see temperatures plummet on Monday to 15 below zero, and Fargo, N.D. looking at 25 below. In International Falls, Minn., temperatures could dip to 31 below zero – and, in Missouri, the National Weather Service reported today that it was “just a dangerous cold”.

Several Illinois roadways have been closed due to drifting snow, with many roads in Indiana especially dangerous. In Missouri, officials warned people to stay inside and stay off the roads, as it was so cold that it prevented rock salt from being effective.

Residents in affected states are being advised to check on their elderly and disabled neighbors, relatives and friends.

For much of America, this is the coldest it’s been for nearly 20 years, making frostbite and hypothermia real threats that can take effect very rapidly once the temperature gets down to minus 15 to 30 degrees below zero.

In addition to dangerous conditions for traveling by automobile, airports are also seeing problems for those traveling by plane. On Sunday, O’Hair and Midway International airports in Chicago had nearly 1,200 flights cancelled. Other airports, including Logan International Airport in Boston and Tennessee's Memphis and Nashville International airports, have also reported cancelled flights.

The severe cold is even expected to spread as far south as Florida, where temperatures are predicted to be in the 30s on Tuesday. Meteorologists in other southern states, such as Georgia and Alabama, are also predicting potentially record low temperatures that could dip into the single digits by Tuesday.

Like any storm, but particularly during a winter storm, power outages are a real risk that can kill people. Therefore, here are five tips for surviving dangerously cold temperatures in the event your home loses electricity:

1. Stay away from any alternative heat source: If your power goes out, exercise caution when using any alternative form of heat like a fireplace or kerosene heater, which can be especially dangerous without proper ventilation.

2. Stay in one room: If your power goes out, try to stay in one room only for heat and make sure it has no leaks, while closing the doors on all other unnecessary rooms.

3. Stay where there’s sunlight: Try to pick a room that has windows you can keep open during the day for additional warmth, but cover all windows at night.

4. Stay healthy: Keeping hydrated and nourished will help prevent you from being susceptible to the cold if the power is out for an extended length of time.

5. Stay with any pets: Pets need to be protected from the cold too, so bring any outdoor pets indoors when the power goes out during temperatures below freezing.

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