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We Get Seven

31 Dec

I just looked at the forecast for Friday. The high was seven last night; now it’s five. My kids and I are doing something fun that day so we don’t have to leave the house – we’re having a “cold day”. We’re building a fort in the living room with every blanket we have in the house and we’re hiding in there all day long. I’m even considering attaching some fleece blankets to the windows in the living room just to make a warmer environment. We are preparing in our own crazy way for some super silly cold weather.

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But what about you? In all seriousness, do you know how to prepare for this? There are a few things you need to know about the coming cold weather.

Pets

Bring them inside!!!!! Your pets shouldn’t be outside right now anyway, but when it gets super cold, they really shouldn’t be out there. Do you have an animal that just refuses to come in the house? I have a friend who had a dog that wouldn’t come inside. His solution was to insist the animal stay in the heated garage during really cold weather. If you don’t have a heated garage for that animal, make sure it is inside some sort of shelter. Give it hay, blankets, straw or something to use for warmth.

If you find a stray, call animal control or let it into your back porch. Close it off into a separate room and alert the authorities, if you can. I see an influx of strays posted to Facebook after every cold snap because they’re seeking warmth on days like this. Be kind and get the animals warmed up – especially your own. They don’t need to be in your face but they do deserve to be warm, just like you.

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The Car

Should you fill the gas tank so it doesn’t freeze? Not anymore. Gas is more alcohol than water these days, which means it won’t freeze in cold weather. You should, however, make sure all the fluids are topped off and give your car at least a half tank of gas. This is for safety reasons more than anything else. If something were to happen and you need to get out in an emergency, you’re set. Don’t warm up the car either – it’s not necessary for anything built in the last twenty years. Older carburated cars actually sustain damage with a warm-up. Put on your gloves and go.

The House

Most houses are built in accordance to their area – Northern homes are built with water pipes inside to prevent freezing. As long as you keep your home at a reasonable heated level (60 or above on Friday), your pipes should be fine. If you’re worried about the pipes freezing or if you live in an older home, run the water throughout the day to help the water move around. This will keep stationary water droplets from freezing. Basically, go through your normal routine throughout the day and your pipes will be fine. You shouldn’t have any problems with your house on Friday as far as freezing pipes are concerned.

Make sure your chimney is cleaned, however. It’s going to be cold and you might want to start up a stove, if you have it. Chimney fires are most common because people forget to clean the remnants out of the chimneys, flues and other areas of the stove. Clean it out this week to be prepared for Friday. Also, bring the wood, pellets or whatever you use around to a convenient spot to avoid going out in the bitter cold. You’ll do your skin a favor.

Yourself

Cover yourself. Frost bite happens fast and it happens without us realizing what’s going on. Let me tell you a story: I was in the woods with my brother a few years ago when I found blood on the snow. I asked him what was going on and he said he didn’t know. We looked ourselves over and found out that my brother had nicked his hand slightly on a tree. He wasn’t hurt badly, but he was bleeding enough for me to find it. The moral of the story is that he didn’t know he was bleeding. The winter cold had numbed his hand and he felt no pain. Frost bite emulates this. You won’t feel a thing until you get that skin back in the warm air. Frost bite is one of the most dangerous winter ailments because it acts this way.

Even if all you have is a pair of socks to put over your hands, do it. If you’re driving anywhere, cover your skin from the house to the car. Frost bite won’t happen that quickly, but why wouldn’t you protect your skin? Many women will put a bottle of lotion in their purse to apply to the hands at work, and this is a good idea for skin protection as well. The cold air will grab any moisture it can find, so rubbing a bit of lotion over your hands after you get to work is quite a relief.

If you can avoid going out, do so. Consider whether or not you really need to leave. If you don’t have to leave, don’t. There is no reason to put yourself in danger due to frozen roads or frost bite. Keep the kids indoors as well. Kids are especially prone to damaging cold because they don’t think like adults. If they’re having fun, they won’t notice their fingers, toes, noses and ears freezing. It’s just not worth the risk.

Stay warm out there. If you are going to drive, follow this link provided by The Weather Channel on safe driving in snow and ice:

Driving in Snow and Ice

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