Those living in certain places of the world like the upper Midwest United States, Canada and Russia expect cold and snow as part of their normal yearly weather cycle. But a Polar Vortex has individuals living in these places and many others experiencing frigid temperatures that present even the most seasoned cold-weather dwellers with a need to plan more than usual for safety in extreme cold.
To help create the proper mindset, keep the word “stay” in mind for managing life in extreme cold temperatures (anything near or below freezing).
- Regularly watch local weather reports, especially paying attention to windchill temperatures and storm warnings.
- Know the warning signs of hypothermia and frostbite and be educated on what to do should either occur.
- Keep road conditions in mind at all times, and adjust driving speed accordingly since getting stranded in extreme cold is especially dangerous.
- Check the condition of water pipes, doing what you can to keep them from freezing and breaking.
- Know when going outside is a bad idea, and stay inside as much as possible.
- Realize that cold affects the elderly and the very young more quickly and more severely, so make sure they stay out of extreme cold and check in on them often.
- Don’t forget that extreme cold is dangerous for pets too.
- Help road crews out, and avoid travel immediately after heavy snowfalls.
- Have a week’s worth of food and water should weather conditions prevent a trip to the store.
- Have a well-stocked Winter Home Emergency Supply Kit at home and a Winter Emergency Car Kit in trunks of all vehicles, and check them regularly to make sure they stay well-supplied.
- Insulate pipes if freezing is a concern, and know what to do if pipes freeze .
- Make sure all vehicles are properly winterized with gas tanks kept always at least half full.
- Keep sunglasses handy when driving, especially when clouds clear and the sun starts reflecting off the snow.
- Always travel with a fully-charged cell phone should you become stranded and need to call for help.
- Let others know your specific travel plans (route, timing, etc.), so you can get help as soon as possible should your vehicle break down or get stuck in the snow.
STAY Warm & Dry
- If you need to go outside, remember that the chances of hypothermia increase when clothing is wet.
- Wear several loose-fitting layers, including water-repellent gear.
- Keep in mind that sweating dampens clothes, and that wet clothing can lower body temperature and contribute to hypothermia.
- Remove wet clothing as soon as possible, having spares available when you know you’ll be outside.
- Remember to keep extremities covered as they are more susceptible to frostbite.
- Don’t forget to cover your mouth also, since extreme cold can hurt the lungs.
- Especially in extreme temperatures caused by windchill, cover every part of skin since frostbite can occur in a matter of minutes.
- Be sure to dress in layers, which traps warm air that acts as insulation.
- Wear a hat since 40% of body heat can escape through the head.
- Keep hands warm and functional at the same time by choosing the proper gloves for use in extreme cold.
- Make sure heating sources are adequately fueled and maintained at all times.
Prevention still remains the best solution for surviving extreme cold temperatures no matter where you live. When frigid arctic air decides to stick around for any length of time, STAY healthy and safe by preventing emergencies whenever possible and by knowing the best course of action when they do happen.