How are you handling the cold? I know I am not enjoying this weather at all and it reminds me of growing up just south of Buffalo, NY. We had tons of snow out there! Keeping safe and warm in the cold was something I learned at a young age.
Here are just a few things to keep in mind if you have to wander out in this frigid weather:
- Prevent frostbite: At wind chills of 15 to 30 below, exposed skin can get frostbitten in minutes and hypothermia can quickly set in. Mittens are better than gloves, layers of dry clothing are best, and anyone who gets wet needs to get inside, doctors warn. Avoid being outdoors, if possible, or make sure all body parts are well-covered. And don't forget to wear a hat like Mom always used to say!
- Check your car battery: If you don’t have access to a garage, check your vehicle’s battery before the cold arrives, experts say. Batteries that are more than three years old or that are on the verge of going dead often can’t be jump-started once they have been exposed to temperatures below zero for an extended period.
- Protect your pipes: With temperatures expected to drop into the single digits, don’t forget to protect against frozen pipes. Expanding water in pipes can cause them to break. Pipes that are most likely to freeze are those exposed to severe cold, such as swimming pool lines and water sprinkler lines that are in basements, crawl spaces, garages or attics. It's not a bad idea to let the water trickle a little in areas of the house where pies are on outside walls to help prevent them from freezing too. If your pipes do freeze warm them slowly using a hair dryer. If you warm them too quickly it can cause the pipes to burst and your frozen pipes become become the least of your problems!
- Cook: Bake cookies or a pie. Your oven will help to dry the air and heat the kitchen. The kitchen will be warm while you are cooking, and then you can have a great home cooked meal too! Limit cooking that gives off steam, as this will increase the humidity in the air and make your house damp. Lowering humidity in the winter time helps you to feel warmer. Water vapor (humidity) has a greater heat capacity (ability to absorb heat) than dry air. As a result, humid air feels colder in winter than does dry air and it takes more heat to make damp air feel comfortable.
- Drink warm beverages: Warm beverages will raise your core temperature. The process can be very relaxing and even stimulating. Make a cup of tea or coffee, or even some cocoa. Sip on some warm broth.
- Exercise: 20 minutes of vigorous exercise can warm you up and keep you warm well after the exercise session. Plus, a healthy body is generally more tolerant of the cold. Be active. Moving around produces body heat! The more active you are, the better your blood circulation will be. This means that warm blood gets to your fingers and toes, keeping them warm. This is especially good for a diabetic since they struggle with poor circulation even without the cold.
- Protect Your Pets: This may sound funny, but put socks on your dog's feet to keep their feet from freezing in the cold snow and ice. They may not like it, but their foot pads can be severely damaged by extreme cold, especially smaller breeds. For them buy little dog boots or even use baby socks for their feet. And keep your cats indoors. Other pets you may have, like horses, chickens, goats, etc... it is important to make sure they have ample hay and straw to keep warm in. Keep all doors and windows in their barns or coops closed tight to lessen the amount of cold air getting in. Change their water several times during the day and if possible locate it in an area that will keep it from freezing. Also leave the lights on in the barn. Even the warmth from incandescent bulbs will help warm up the air quite a bit!
My number one tip for handling the cold is to stay out of it! Stay indoors if at all possible. I know that for many that is not an option, so be prepared! Think ahead before you leave the house. For many years we have kept a Winter Emergency Kit in our cars. it includes the following:
- Hand Warmers: the kind you shake or break and place in your gloves. They work great for shoes too and you can often find them at dollar stores.
- Candles and Waterproof Matches: You'd be surprised at how much a single candle can warm the inside of a car. It's enough to keep you from freezing to death!
- Chocolate Bars: This provides quick energy and calories to keep your body going in an emergency.
- Small Metal Saucepan: This can be used for several things, like scooping snow out of the way and for melting snow for drinking. The candle can help melt the snow.
- Collapsible Drinking Cups: These are so handy for using to hold melted snow for drinking and they don't take up a lot of room.
- Small Shovel: Obviously for digging yourself out of the snow. Just remember to not over exert in the cold. It can be very stressful on your heart!
- Kitty Litter: We always have a 50 pound bag of kitty litter in our car. It adds extra weight for times when you are stuck in some slush and you can use it to help with traction in the snow.
- Feminine Hygiene Pads: I know this sounds strange, but they can help if you have a hose leak. The absorb a lot and the self-sticky on the back helps hold them in place.
- Space Blankets: These are those funky looking silver blankets that look and feel a lot more like a plastic tarp than anything else, but they can keep you warm in some really cold situations!
- Full-size Blankets: If your vehicle has room, keep full-size blankets in the it as well. it never hurts to have extra layers of warmth in the cold.
- Regular Car Emergency Kit: I am sure you have all seen these before, they include things like jumper cables, flares, a triangle sign, etc... You should have one of these in your car all year long!
This is just a small amount of things you need to be aware of during the winter months and especially during cold spells like we are experiencing across the country right now! Being ready and educated is your best weapon against a deep freeze! I'm sure you and your family will be thankful for thinking ahead before going out in the cold!