Cold weather is uncomfortable and can be down right dangerous. When winter conditions go from cold to frigid, it’s important to take some precautions so you stay safe. Here are some of our top cold weather safety tips to help keep you safe during cold weather:
11 Must-Read Severe Cold Weather Safety Tips
- Minimize outside activities, particularly the elderly and very young. This also goes for pets.
- Dress in layers. Wear several loose-fitting, lightweight clothing items instead of one heavy layer. Make sure the outer garments are tightly woven and water repellent. Invest in high-quality thermal underwear and layer it beneath a turtleneck. Top it off with a wool sweater and a long coat or fleece-lined parka. Consider wearing runners’ tights underneath your pants for added warmth, which is even more effective than thermal underwear.
- Wear the right gear. Our bodies prioritize keeping our organs warm, so it’s important to protect our hands and feet from the cold. Consider wearing wool-lined winter gloves or heavy mittens, along with sturdy and waterproof boots. Don’t forget to wear a hat that covers your ears, and use a scarf to cover your face and mouth for extra protection for your lungs.
- Excessive exposure can lead to frostbite, which is damaging to body tissues. Frostbite causes a loss of feeling and a pale appearance in extremities, such as fingers, toes, ear lobes or the tip of the nose. If symptoms are detected, get out of the cold. Go to a warm room, soak in warm water. Do not massage or use a heating pad. Seek medical help.
- Do not leave pets outside during cold weather extremes. They need adequate shelter. In sub-zero temperatures, their paws, noses and ears can succumb to frostbite—bring them inside. If you can’t bring them in your home, house them in a garage or basement with plenty of warm bedding.
- Know the warning signs of hypothermia: uncontrollable shivering, memory loss, disorientation, incoherence, slurred speech, drowsiness and apparent exhaustion. If body temperature drops below 95 degrees, seek immediate medical care.
- 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. If you use a generator, be sure you know how to do so safely. Always use outdoors, at least 20 feet away from windows, doors, and attached garages. Use heavy-duty extension cords.
- 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.
- Save the food. If you lose power for an extended period of time, don’t let food go to waste! Use the outdoors as a makeshift freezer for food. Be sure to cover items to protect from wildlife.
- 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.
- Be a good neighbor. Check in with elderly or disabled relatives and neighbors to ensure they are safe.