If you have lived through a Northeast Ohio winter, you know how cold it can get. But this week is going to be different. We haven't seen frigid temperatures like these in more than a decade. This is more than cold. It can be deadly cold and there are some simple things you can do to protect yourself.
- Keep your car gassed up and never let it get below half a tank. If you're stranded on the highway, your heater can literally be a lifesaver. Turn on the car and run the heat for ten minutes every hour. Make sure there's no snow blocking the exhaust pipe. Always keep an emergency kit, blanket, flashlight, extra windshield washer fluid, water and something to eat in your car.
- Understand the danger of wind chill. Frost Nip, the first phase of frostbite, can begin in as little as 30 seconds on exposed or under-protected skin. The pins and needles sensation you feel is a warning sign to get inside and get warm. In subzero wind chill, frostbite can happen in about 30 minutes.
- If you have a heart condition or high blood pressure, avoid any exertion in this cold. Even shoveling can lead to a heart attack. The cold can also be very dangerous for those with asthma, so take precautions.
- At home, even though Ohio is now at a 27-year-low of fire fatalities, the bitter cold can put you and your family at risk. Change the battery in the smoke detector, keep the area clear around space heaters and fireplaces and never use kitchen appliances to stay warm. Also make sure you have a working CO detector.
- Open your faucets just enough to let a little drip to help prevent your pipes from freezing and keep the number of a plumber and heating and cooling experts nearby. It's not a bad idea to have a second business number in case your usual plumber is busy.
- Older people lose their sensation of feeling the cold, so make sure you check on your elderly neighbors and clear the snow off of their walkways. If the power goes off, make sure they have a safe place to go to stay warm.
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