Below-freezing temperatures have now hit much of the U.S., with some areas getting walloped with snow as well.
With this arctic air comes a greater risk of frostbite, hypothermia and other dangers. Follow the tips below to keep your family—including any pets—safe from the cold.
Avoid driving when conditions include sleet, freezing rain or drizzle, snow or dense fog. If travel is necessary, keep a disaster supply kit in your vehicle.
Before you take on any strenuous work in cold temperatures—such as shoveling snow—consider your physical condition, the weather and the nature of the task. Take frequent breaks and stay hydrated while working, and avoid overexertion.
Protect yourself from frostbite and hypothermia by wearing warm, loose-fitting, lightweight clothing in several layers. Stay indoors, if possible.
Seek medical attention immediately if you have symptoms of hypothermia, including confusion, dizziness, exhaustion and severe shivering. Also seek immediate medical attention if you have symptoms of frostbite: these include numbness; flushed gray, white, blue or yellow skin discoloration; and waxy-feeling skin.
In the Home
To help prevent pipes from freezing, let cold water drip from faucets served by exposed pipes. Keep garage doors closed if there are water supply lines in the garage, and open kitchen and bathroom cabinet doors to allow warmer air to circulate around the plumbing.
Keep the thermostat set to the same temperature both during the day and at night. By temporarily suspending the use of lower nighttime temperatures, you may incur a higher heating bill, but you can prevent a much more costly repair job if pipes freeze and burst.
Keep all fuel-burning equipment vented to the outside and well away from your home.
Never use a stove or oven to heat your home. Keep a glass or metal fire screen around the fireplace and never leave a fireplace fire unattended.
If using a space heater, follow the manufacturer’s instructions on how to safely use the heater. Place it on a level, hard, nonflammable surface. Turn the space heater off when you leave the room or go to sleep. Keep children and pets away from your space heater, and do not use it to dry wet clothing.
Remember to check on those who may require special assistance, such as elderly people living alone, people with disabilities and children.
Humans aren’t the only ones affected by harsh winter weather. When extremely cold temperatures hit, bring pets/companion animals inside if possible.
Move other animals or livestock to sheltered areas and make sure that their access to food and water is not blocked by snow drifts, ice or other obstacles.
You can find more information on protecting your pets on redcross.org.