For much of the Midwest and Northeast, record cold is about to spread over the region, causing wind chills in some areas to drop to 50 below zero.
When temperatures drop this low, it is not just uncomfortable, it is dangerous.
According to the National Weather Service, frostbite could develop after being outside for just 10 minutes. Long-term exposure to the cold could cause permanent skin damage.
The National Weather Service offers the following tips to survive the cold:
- Adjust Your Schedule: If possible, adjust your schedule to avoid being outside during the coldest part of the day, typically the early morning. Try to find a warm spot for your children while waiting for the school bus outside.
- Protect Your Pets, Livestock and other Property: If you have pets or farm animals, make sure they have plenty of food and water, and are not overly exposed to extreme cold. Take precautions to ensure your water pipes do not freeze. Know the temperature thresholds of your plants and crops.
- Fill up the tank: Make sure your car or vehicle has at least a half a tank of gas during extreme cold situations so that you can stay warm if you become stranded.
Dress for the outdoors even if you don't think you'll be out much.
For those planning on driving, the National Weather Service says it is a good idea to have these items with you:
- Jumper cables: flares or reflective triangle are great extras
- Flashlights: Replace the batteries before the winter season starts and pack some extras
- First Aid Kit: Also check your purse of bag for essential medications
- Baby, special needs gear: If you have a baby or family member with special needs, pack diapers and any special formula or food
- Food: Stock non-perishable food such as canned food and a can opener, dry cereal and protein rich foods like nuts and energy bars
- Water: Have at least 1 gallon of water per person a day for at least 3 days
- Basic toolkit: Pliers, wrench, screwdriver
- Pet supplies: Food and water
- Radio: Battery or hand cranked
- Cat litter or sand: For better tire traction
- Shovel: To dig out snow
- Ice scraper: Even if you usually park in a garage, have one in the car.
- Clothes: Make sure you dress for the weather in warm clothes, gloves, hat, sturdy boots, jacket and an extra change of clothes for the cold
- Warmers: Pack extra for body, hands, feet
- Blankets or sleeping bags: If you get stranded in traffic on a lonely road, you'll be glad to have it.
- Charged Cell Phone: Keep a spare charger in your car as well
Other recommendations include to keep a faucet running a small volume of water to prevent pipes from freezing and don't use your oven for heating, instead use boiling water or make soups or stews to add warmth and moisture into the air.