The teeth-chattering cold is here and it’s nothing to laugh about. Cold weather extremes can be dangerous. Follow these important cold weather safety tips for you, your family, and pets when the mercury and wind chills drop.

  • Minimize outside activities, particularly the elderly and very young.couple walking in the cold
  • Dress in layers. Several layers of loose-fitting, lightweight clothing will keep you warmer than a single layer of heavy clothing. Outer garments should be tightly woven and water repellent. Invest in a good brand of thermal underwear and layer beneath a turtleneck, topped with a wool sweater, then a long coat or fleece-lined parka. Try runners’ tights to wear underneath your pants, which will keep you even warmer than thermal underwear.
  • Wear the right gear. Our bodies prioritize keeping our organs warm, which means hands and feet are typically the first to feel the cold. Wear either wool-lined winter gloves or heavy mittens, and sturdy, waterproof boots, protecting your extremities. A hat is essential, preferably one that covers your ears. Cover your face and mouth with a scarf to protect your lungs.
  • Don’t forget your pets, bring them inside! They need adequate shelter. In sub-zero temperatures, their paws, noses and ears can succumb to frostbite. If you can’t bring them in your home, house them in a garage or basement with plenty of warm bedding.
  • Know frostbite signs: numbness, flushed gray, white, blue or yellow skin discoloration. Did you know that frostbite could occur in less than 30 minutes if proper precautions are not taken? Frostbite is damaging to body tissue, if symptoms are detected, seek medical help immediately.
  • Know hypothermia symptoms: uncontrollable shivering, memory loss, disorientation, incoherence, slurred speech, drowsiness and apparent exhaustion. If body temperature drops below 95 degrees, seek immediate medical care.
  • To keep pipes from freezing wrap them in insulation or layers of newspapers, covering the newspapers with plastic to keep out moisture. Allow a trickle of water to run from a faucet if your pipes have frozen in the past. This will keep the water moving so that it cannot freeze. Learn how to shut off your water if a pipe should burst.Winter Car safety cartoon
  • Be safe with heat sources. When using alternate heating sources, such as your fireplace, wood stove or space heater, take the necessary safety precautions to ensure they are ventilating properly. Keep a fire extinguisher handy, and make sure everyone in the household knows how to use it. Test smoke alarms and carbon monoxide detectors. Never use a stove or oven to heat your home. Many house fires result from these practices.
  • Seal off unused rooms by stuffing rolled-up towels in the cracks under the doors. At night, cover windows with extra blankets or sheets. Consider installing inexpensive insulating window film, which you can purchase at any hardware store.
  • Check tire pressure and your car battery. Be sure your car has a winter safety kit that includes a blanket, warm clothes, and gloves in case your car breaks down or becomes stranded.
  • And most importantly, be a good neighbor. Check in with elderly or disabled relatives and neighbors to ensure they are safe.

For further information check out weather.gov and farmersalmanac.com