Brrrrrr. It’s that time of year in Northern Ohio. Here comes the dreaded “Polar Vortex” and the dangerous subzero temperatures it generates. Mickey Mart wants you to stay safe and warm, so the best advice is to stay indoors and binge watch some TV or read a book. However, if you have to go out, here are 5 Easy Safety Tips For Frigid Cold Weather.
1) Layer, Layer, Layer
This is the cold weather tip that never gets (c)old. No article on safety tips for the frigid cold should be without it.
Dig out the long underwear or, in a pinch, some sweatpants, and a long sleeve shirt for a base layer and build outwards. You can even layer your socks with thin summer socks beneath the heavier winter ones. Use multiple thinner insulating layers instead of a single bulky layer so you can add or peel off layers. This allows for changes in temperature without looking like Randy from “A Christmas Story.”
If possible look for synthetic materials, fleece or wool instead of cotton, especially for base layers closest to the skin. If you are working outside and sweating (as weird as that sounds), cotton absorbs the dampness with no insulating benefit. This can quickly become dangerous if you find yourself stuck outside or not moving for any extended amount of time.
It also very helpful if the outermost layer has some kind of windbreaker quality. Anybody who watches weather updates knows how Wind Chill makes things much more challenging.
Pay special attention to your hands and feet. If possible, avoid cotton socks, especially if there’s any chance they might get wet. Frostbite is always a real danger, exponentially so when the temperatures drop below 20 degrees.
2) Cover As Much Exposed Skin As Possible
We’ve all heard the old saying that you lose most of the heat from your head. That’s only true if your head is uncovered. The truth is you lose heat from any unprotected part of your body. When temperatures get as low as those generated by the Arctic air we see every winter, exposed skin can freeze very quickly.
Most often we are able to move from one heated location to another fairly quickly, but common sense says be prepared for every eventuality and put on those gloves, that hat, and that scarf (or at least be able to grab them quickly) if you are spending any extended time out of doors.
3) Warm Yourself From the Inside
One of the best safety tips for frigid cold is, if you are feeling the dread chill, a cup of hot tea, hot chocolate, soup or coffee will start the thawing process much faster than waiting for the car to warm up.
Stay away from alcohol, if you are going to be outside for extended periods of time. It can actually lower your core temperature!
4) Load the Car for Camping
Along with normal winter safety gear, it’s a good idea to throw a low-temperature sleeping bag or a bunch of warm blankets into the trunk…just in case. If your car becomes disabled as a result of cold or snow and you’re any kind of distance from a warm shelter, it could be a while before anybody can show up to help. Make sure you have enough for everyone that could be in the car.
If you are traveling long distances, it’s also a good idea to grab a couple of bottles of water before you leave the house. Water left in the car will, obviously, freeze and that won’t do you any good. A little emergency bag of snacks is a great idea, too. Again, your local Mickey Mart can certainly help you in this preparation!
5) Check on Elderly Neighbors and Outdoor Animals
Dangerous temperatures can be difficult for older, more dependent neighbors. If you know of anyone who needs special assistance, be sure to check in on them to make sure they are OK and they have the means to reach out to someone if they find they need help.
Unless dogs are wearing special booties to protect their paws from the cold and ice, limit walks to no more than 10 minutes. If you take care of animals that remain outdoors, make sure they have some kind of shelter and bedding which can provide a measure of insulation. Also, check that water sources remain filled with unfrozen water.
For more safety tips for Frigid Cold Weather, here are the CDC’s Emergency Winter Weather Supply Lists.