“Polar vortex” is the buzzword this week, with much of the northern and mid-Atlantic United States gripped in extremely cold temperatures and several feet of snow. The polar vortex is actually a system of Arctic air that normally stays put around the North Pole. But this time, the jet stream has pushed the polar vortex south, where it currently sits over the northeastern, midwest and mid-Atlantic U.S. So if you live someplace that’s being affected by the polar vortex, you need to take extra precautions to stay safe and warm. Here are 7 tips to survive the polar vortex!
1. – Stay indoors. If at all possible, just don’t go out during the polar vortex. Stay indoors, either at home or work, and avoid any prolonged exposure to the freezing temperatures. Let the sledding and snowmen wait for warmer temps.
2. – Bundle up. If you must go out, either for work work or other errands, put on more layers than you think you need and make your outing as brief as possible. Exposed skin can quickly succomb to frostbite, so cover up with mittens or gloves, a hat, scarf and face mask. If you get wet while outside, immediately get inside, change clothes and warm up.
3. – Turn down the thermostat. Sounds crazy, right? But to prevent widespread power outages, utility companies are urging customers to turn their thermostats down to 68 degrees, even if that means wearing an extra layer of clothes indoors. Better a little chilly than completely without power (and heat), right?
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4. – Use caution with space heaters. If you have to spend time in a drafty room, an electric space heater can seem like your best friend. But these portable heaters should never be left unmonitored, and never left on while you sleep. Remember that propane and other fuel-fed heaters are only meant for outdoors. Using them indoors can cause deadly carbon monoxide poisoning.
5. – Leave water taps open. If you’re dealing with sub-zero temps, freezing pipes are always a concern. One easy way to avoid this is to leave all water taps (sinks and showers) open at just a trickle, as moving water is less likely to freeze.
6. – Check on the elderly. If you’ve got elderly relatives or neighbors, now is the time to check in on them and make sure they are safe and warm. The elderly are especially vulnerable to hypothermia, so if you know of an elderly person who cannot afford to keep warm, bring him or her to your home, or failing that, call 911.
7. – Bring your pets indoors! If you keep outside pets, now is the time to change your policy. Don’t think that just because they have fur, dogs and cats can’t freeze to death. They can and do. Even dogs with dog houses should be brought to a sheltered, warm area. Cats often hide under the hoods of cars in extreme cold, so be sure to make a lot of noise or bang on the hood before starting the engine.