When temperatures drop during winter months, even short exposure to extreme cold and wind chill can be life-threatening. Winter storms and ice storms can also knock down power lines and leave your home without electricity or heat. Even if you live in an area where low temperatures are not that common, you should always be prepared for a sudden temperature drop and know how to stay warm in case your electricity or heat is cut off. Follow these safety tips during extreme cold temperatures: 


House Heating Safety 

  • Never heat with your cooking stove. 
  • Keep portable heaters far away from anything flammable like clothes. Turn heaters off when you are not in the room. 
  • Never run a car’s engine in a garage or closed space. Odorless and colorless carbon monoxide gas from a car’s exhaust is highly toxic and will cause death. 
  • Never light a fire indoors except in a legal, certified wood stove. 


What to Do If Your Power and Heat Goes Out 

  • Set up a “shelter in place” room for your family and pets in a small space, ideally that is protected from the prevailing wind. 
  • Insulate your “shelter in place” room windows with blankets, heavy cloth curtains, towels, or plastic. Huddle together to share body heat. 
  • Gather as many winter coats, blankets, sweaters and sleeping bags as you can find. If you have a tent, you can also set that up in the room. 
  • Leave a trickle of water running in all faucets and open cabinets below sinks to expose pipes. This will help prevent your pipes from freezing and bursting. 


Additional Winter Storm Safety Tips 

  • Stay informed. Tune in to local news sources to ensure you are up to date on any emergency announcements, if needed. For example, sometimes temporary warming shelters are created in communities if there are power outages.  
  • Keep phones charged. 
  • Keep flashlights, a radio, and extra batteries easily accessible. 
  • Make sure you have enough clean drinking water to last for several days to a week. Fill empty bottles with tap water in case pipes freeze. 
  • If you must go outside in extreme cold, limit your time there, dress in heavy layers, wear gloves and especially a hat (40% of your body heat can be lost from your head). Exposure to the cold can result in hypothermia (an often-fatal condition when the body’s temperature goes below 95 degrees Fahrenheit). Elderly people are especially susceptible to hypothermia. A wind chill of minus 20 degrees Fahrenheit will cause the serious medical condition frostbite in just 30 minutes. Frostbite can cause serious and permanent damage to the skin and limbs.
  • Do not drive during winter storms. Roads are hazardous and if you become stranded, you could die from exposure to the cold. 
  • Conserve energy.