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Extreme Cold Weather Safety: What to do Before, During and After

With temperatures plummeting below zero and wind chills reaching -30 to -60 degrees this weekend, it's important to be prepared. There are steps you can take before, during and after an arctic blast to ensure you, your family and your animals are safe.


When a wind chill watch is issued, it's time to prepare. When a wind chill warning is issued, its time to take action.


BEFORE


Try your best to adjust your schedule around the arctic blast. Check forecasts frequently to stay up to speed on when the worst of the chills will be coming. If you have outdoor animals, such as livestock, horses, chickens, etc., make sure they have plenty of food and water, give them extra to ensure they will not run out. Keep them in an enclosed space (barn, coop, etc.) to keep the winds off them. Household animals should be kept inside as much as possible.


Make sure your vehicle is fueled up prior to the cold arriving. Have an emergency car kit ready to go in your car. If you have a generator, get gas before the cold arrives. Make sure electronics are charged up in case of outages. It's a good idea to check over a list of warming shelters in your area.


It's also a good idea to cover all of your spigots around your house. Wrap them in old clothing, plastic or anything that will keep the wind out.


DURING


When wind chills drop well below zero, frostbite can occur in just a matter of minutes to exposed skin. The best thing to do is to remain indoors during the absolute coldest part of the arctic blast. If you have to go outside, try your very best to cover every part of your body. Do not spend any time outside without a hat, gloves and multiple layers on your body.


It's also a good idea to have a way to cover your mouth to protect against breathing in such freezing air, this can seriously help your lungs. Having some kind of cover for your nose is a great idea as well and make sure your hat goes completely over your ears. Be sure to adhere to all of the above, even if you're just walking across a parking lot.


If you suspect frostbite is beginning to occur, get out of the cold right away, preferably into a heated building. Until you are indoors, keep the frostbitten area covered. Take off any wet clothes immediately. Drink warm liquids. Do not use hot water to reheat the area. If the area is numb, you may not be able to feel your skin burning if you heat the area up too much. Always seek medical attention if you suspect you have serious frostbite or hypothermia.


For your home, open cabinets under your sinks to allow the warmth of the house to reach the pipes easier. if your pipes end up freezing, do not use an open flame to thaw them. A hairdryer is recommended for thawing pipes.


In case of a power outage, do not run a generator indoors or an enclosed area. Make sure the generator is at a safe distance from your house outdoors. If you don't have a generator, close off a room or two in your house to trap the heat in a more contained area.


If you're driving during the extreme cold, make sure your vehicle is in good working order. Check your battery, have plenty of gas and make sure your tires are properly inflated. Keep jumper cables and a blanket in your car in case of break downs.


AFTER


Check the pipes around your home to ensure they aren't frozen. If the pipes are frozen, turn on the tap and warm the pipes as discussed in the "during" section above. Check on your neighbors, family members and friends. Put salt down on your driveway and sidewalk, they will be slippery after an arctic blast. If you use up your supplies, make sure to refill them, there will very likely be more winter weather on the way before spring!



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