It’s cold! Of course you already knew that right? Most of us have lived in Northern Michigan long enough to know the basics when it comes to the cold weather, but these wind chill temps have been lower than I’ve seen in a long time, and it’s easy to forget how fast bad things can happen in cold temps. I’m talking about everything from driving, to shoveling, to just trying to stay warm. That’s why I thought I would create some lists of advice from experts on what to do when it get’s downright freezing outside!
WINTER WEATHER TRAVEL SAFETY
* Make sure everyone has their seat belts on and give your full attention to the road.
* Don’t follow other vehicles too closely. Sudden stops are difficult on snowy roadways.
* Don’t use cruise control when driving in winter weather.
* Don’t pass snow plows.
* Ramps, bridges and overpasses freeze before roadways.
* If you become stranded, stay in your vehicle and wait for help.
COPING WITH THE BITTER COLD
* Wear layers of clothing, a hat, mittens and waterproof, insulated boots.
* Be careful when tackling strenuous tasks like shoveling snow in cold temperatures. Take frequent breaks.
* Check on your neighbors, especially elderly people living alone, people with disabilities and children.
* Bring pets indoors. If they can’t come inside, make sure they have enough shelter to keep them warm and that they can get to unfrozen water.
* Watch for hypothermia and frostbite. Hypothermia symptoms include confusion, dizziness, exhaustion and severe shivering. Frostbite symptoms include numbness, flushed gray, white, blue or yellow skin discoloration, numbness, or waxy feeling skin.
* Avoid frozen pipes – run water, even at a trickle, to help prevent them from freezing. Keep the thermostat at the same temperature day and night to help avoid freezing pipes. Open cabinet doors to allow warmer air from the room to get to pipes near sinks, etc.
HEAT YOUR HOME SAFELY
* All heaters need space. Keep children, pets and things that can burn (paper, matches, bedding, furniture, clothing, carpets, and rugs) at least three feet away from heating equipment.
* If you must use a space heater, place it on a level, hard and nonflammable surface (such as ceramic tile floor), not on rugs, carpets or near bedding or drapes. Plug power cords directly into outlets – never into an extension cord or power strip.
* Never leave a fire in the fireplace unattended, and use a glass or metal fire screen to keep fire and embers in the fireplace.
* Never use a cooking range or oven to heat your home.
* Turn off portable space heaters every time you leave the room or go to sleep.
* If the power goes out, always run a generator outside, never inside the home including in the basement or garage. Generators produce deadly carbon monoxide and must be placed in well ventilated areas.