People tend to get excited during the winter season: the air is crisp, and things are more enjoyable due to the mild temperatures and holiday festivities. However, the potential for harm during these periods when mild days can drop instantly, going from a winter wonderland to a blizzard, is often overlooked. In these events, you need precautions to take during extended time in freezing weather when outdoors or indoors without power.
Dressing For the Cold
The preferred method of dressing for the cold is to wear synthetics, like polyester or winter thermals, for your base layer so that your body can regulate its core temperature and stay comfortable. You can wear something light, like a cotton shirt or light jacket, for your second layer. If the conditions are bad, you will need a third layer; however, you should adjust according to how hot or cold you are at any given time.
Wool socks, hats, and gloves are the traditional wear for colder climates, but you can easily substitute those with synthetics and all-weather outer garments. Light synthetic gloves underneath weatherproofed gloves, a synthetic lined hat, and synthetic blended socks that wick away moisture will work fine. These allow your body to regulate ideal temperatures, all while staying dry and free of the wind and snow.
Keep an Eye Out for Hypothermia
When temperatures begin to drop and the weather changes, people tend to change their attire to fit the season. What most don’t realize, however, is that overdressing for the season draws the heat out of your body. If you become too warm, your body will exert that heat away and begin to sweat to cool itself.
However, in the cold, you could catch hypothermia from the moisture collected from your sweat. At this point, you could potentially require seeking medical attention. The best way to approach colder temperatures is to dress in loose-fitted clothing in layers.
Watch Your Food Supplies
You should always have food rations on the list of things to get before a power outage or winter snowstorm. Having a stocked pantry of the basics will take you a long way, no matter how bad it gets. Having food that is dry stored is the safest, and the second to that is canned items.
So, make sure your pantry is stocked and ready at a moment’s notice. You should consider what you have stored in your refrigerator first and then your freezer second. Things like meat, dairy, and eggs are items you will need to keep a close eye on.
If you must question whether it is fresh, throw it out. If your frozen foods go above 40 degrees Fahrenheit, you can refreeze them, most of the time, depending on how long they were in the heat. If you decide to keep the thawed items, make sure you cook as soon as possible to avoid contracting a food-borne illness.
Watch How You Heat Your Home
Some people still have wood-burning furnaces, while others rely on gas. Both methods work well to heat homes during the winter months, especially during extreme winter weather. With these, the flumes of your fireplace should remain open to keep propane and carbon monoxide from entering your home and harming you.
Otherwise, make sure you have your chimney cleaned and swept annually to keep animals and soot from entering your home. You should never use anything fueled by petroleum or charcoal inside your home, as these substances are a health hazard. These substances could poison you or catch your house on fire.
Take Care When Outside
If you find yourself outside in extreme winter conditions, take note of the weather around you. Unless you wear something to stop wind—like a windbreaker or an all-weather coat—the wind will pull the heat away from your body and cause hypothermia faster. If you can, avoid overexerting yourself in chills like this, as it will put excess stress on your heart and could cause you heart trouble. This is essential if you already have a heart condition.
If you can, stay away from any ice at all costs. No matter how shallow it may look, ice is deceiving. What’s worse is black ice, as you cannot see it on hard surfaces. One way of getting around this is by laying rock salt on your pavement, sidewalks, and driveway to ensure you don’t have any accidents.
Stay Alert While Traveling
You should try to avoid traveling while under severe winter conditions at all costs. However, if you must, you should prepare for the worst in case something happens. The first thing to keep in mind is that you should pack a bag full of supplies before going out to travel. If you end up stuck on the side of a highway or in the middle of nowhere, you will want to have everything you need to survive.
So, having things like extra dry clothing and winter apparel is handy. Blankets, matches, food, water, a phone, and radio are essential to have before moving forward. As you are on your journey, make sure you keep the radio on to get the latest reports on the conditions. Pay attention to how the weather is faring at your destination; that way, you can always stay one step ahead. Most importantly, use tire chains and have a shovel and a jack handy in case you end up stuck somewhere.
There is no guarantee of when winter weather will strike, but there are a few things you can do so that you are ready for it when it does. The first is to dress in layers and have the necessary gear ready, so you can survive if an accident happens. Keeping an eye on your food and your house will take you a long way during these critical times. And, if you must travel, make sure you are prepared for anything as you go out into the unknown. Knowing these precautions to take during extended time in freezing weather may save your life someday.