Another arctic blast is coming! Here's your extreme cold survival guide.
As a winter storm churns eastward, much of the country is bracing for the month's second arctic blast. What cold-weather-hardened Midwesterners and other experts teach us about surviving the cold.
The second arctic blast in a month is pushing temperatures down into the negative double digits in parts of the country this week, threatening to rattle the bones of residents of even the heartiest Midwestern states.Skip to next paragraph
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In Wisconsin, temperatures hovered just below zero Tuesday. At about 10 am, the air temperature in Madison was minus 4 degrees Fahrenheit with a wind chill of 22 below. In other parts of the country, those temperatures would bring many cities and towns to a grinding halt, but not in Wisconsin.
“It’s not too bad,” says Tod Prichard of Wisconsin Emergency Management, “though this morning was kind of chilly.” Chilly or not, Wisconsin schools were open Tuesday, as were state and local government offices.
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But even Wisconsinites were caught off guard earlier this month when the mercury plunged into the negative 20’s and 30’s.
“Unfortunately when we had that first cold snap come through, we had four deaths,” Mr. Prichard says. “As we get another batch coming our way we are trying to warn people ahead of time and we are working with the state health department to set up warming shelters for folks whose furnace goes out or lose power.”
So what can people do to withstand the icy blast?
Even before winter starts, the Federal Emergency Management Agency recommends that homeowners have their heating equipment and chimney’s inspected to ensure that they function properly and safely through the worst of the winter. FEMA recommends these checks be done every year.
Prichard recommends that residents keep their thermostat set to 67 degrees F, even overnight, especially for seniors and children who are more susceptible to cold. “These kind of stretches are not the time to save money,” he says. "During these cold snaps you really have to make sure that you are keeping a good solid temperature inside your home.”
Frigid temperatures can pose a threat to household pipes, especially in more temperate regions of the country where insulation is less common. But even insulated pipes can become compromised when temperatures dip below minus 15 F., Pritchard says.
Residents can wrap exposed pipes in blankets and newspaper to provide makeshift insulation. Keeping the tap open slightly will help prevent the pipes from bursting should the water freeze.