The polar vortex has become synonymous with winter’s most brutal cold but extreme cold is not the only thing to worry about.
More winter weather is on its way, so you need to know how to keep you, your loved ones, your pets and your home safe.
1. Polar Vortex
The polar vortex is an area of cold upper-level low pressure that typically resides in the Arctic. But every so often, the normal winter pattern becomes disrupted. What happens is that the polar vortex gets split and pieces end up flying in different directions. One of those pieces is sitting north of the U.S.-Canada border.
This bitter airmass landed there because of a phenomenon called sudden stratospheric warming. This is a natural event that occurs 50,000 to 100,000 feet above the Arctic every couple of years. What it does is throw weather patterns off-kilter. It is often followed by a mountain of unusually warm air near the Arctic circle that tried to reroute pieces of the cold polar vortex southward, causing extremes all over the world.
There are signs that the polar vortex is about to go south, along with record-shattering cold air from far-away Alaska. The Arctic blast comes with a series of winter storms bringing ice from Texas to Tennessee and significant snow to Washington, D.C. So, it’s time to get you ready for the cold days ahead.
2. Winter Safety Guide
As the most frigid air has yet to invade the U.S, bringing snow and ice storms, here are a few things you have to do to ensure you and your family are safe.
Ensure carbon monoxide detectors are operating
Among higher risks are carbon monoxide leaks that often happened during winter storms and arctic blasts.
Protect outdoor appliances
Any appliance that is outdoors or in an unheated part of the home needs to be protected as the ambient conditions are likely to prevent it from functioning as designed. Think of it just like adding a solution of non-freezing automotive windshield washing fluid to your car.
Keep your pipes warm
Pipes are also prone to damage in extremely cold temperatures, so you need to keep them warm. You can blow hot air from a hairdryer against the pipe, position a heat lamp or portable space heater next to the pipe, wrap hot towels around it and apply electrical heating tape directly to the pipe.
Keep your pet indoors and stock on supplies
This goes without saying, but you also need to take care of your pet when you do go outside. Make sure you clean your pups’ paws after a walk with warm water as the harsh salt is not good neither for their paws nor for their digestion. As for supplies, you need to make sure to have enough in case you have to bunker down for a while.
3. How To Stay Warm
You need to know how to stay bundled up to prevent getting sick.
Warm yourself first
It’s easier to change your body temperature than room temperature. It is also more eco-friendly. Besides wearing layers, cover yourself head to toe with a warm hat, socks and even gloves if necessary as any non-covered part of the body means lost heat.
Dress your windows up
If you’re going sleeveless, your windows shouldn’t either. Replace thin curtains with heavier drapes that act as an additional layer of insulation during the winter. But don’t forget to open them in the morning to let the sunshine in and take advantage of free heat.
Cover up wisely
The fluffy part of the blanket should be closer to your skin and the dense part should be on top to prevent heat from escaping. If your bed is next to an exterior wall, make some space in between and you’ll feel a lot warmer.
Turn on your ceiling fan
The lowest setting in a clockwise direction will push the warm air from the ceiling down and make your house feel warmer.
Take a hot and cold shower
A hot shower will immediately warm you up, but a cold one will improve blood circulation so even though you will hate doing it, switch in between the two and it will be worth it afterwards.
Using your oven heats up the whole house so channel your inner Julia Child and bake as many cinnamon cookies and warm winter meals as you like.
Switch to a more efficient provider
You need to make sure you have a good utility company with a reasonable rate because your bill will likely be significantly higher. By making a PA power switch to a company with a better rate, you will stay warm at a fraction of the cost.
The above tips will help you ensure that you, your family, including pets, and your home are safe and warm no matter how cold and frightful the outside weather gets.