Weather we like it or not (see what we did there?), the cold is here - and it's here to stay. Just as we try to keep cool during the hot summer months, it's important to take the same safety measures to stay warm during the cold winter months. And it's not just humans who need to prepare for winter - our homes do too! Keep these 10 cold weather safety tips in mind as you brave the long winter ahead.
1. Pile on the right layers.
Bundling up before you go out in the cold is important, just ask Randy's mom from A Christmas Story.
While we don't recommend taking it quite that far, we do believe in following the Rule of 3 when it comes to cold weather layering:
- Layer 1 - Moisture Wicking Material
- Layer 2 - Insulation (think thermals)
- Layer 3 - Water-Resistant Outerwear
For ideas on the best cold-weather clothing, check out ThredUp's list of the Top 10 Winter Clothing Brands.
2. Shorten your time outdoors.
Staying outside for too long in extreme cold weather conditions can expose you to potentially serious health problems and safety hazards. Before you go outside, be aware of not only the temperature, but other accompanying factors like wind chill or icy pavement. Before a cold weather front with potential precipitation moves through, be sure to lay down ice melt to lessen the chances of you or visitors falling on slick ground. Cold weather also puts extra strain on the heart, so avoid overexertion when working outside in such conditions. Don't forget to listen to your body, as serious health complications like frostbite and hypothermia can be contracted if out in the cold for too long. Contact your doctor immediately if you fear you may have caught one of these illnesses.
3. Teach your kids about safe cold weather habits.
When temperatures drop, children need extra attention to stay safe and warm. Before cold weather strikes, take a few minutes to sit down with your kids to go over the importance of staying safe in the cold and form a cold weather safety plan, for emergency instances. If your kids do go out to play in the cold, make sure they're wearing waterproof snow gear to stay dry and consider setting a timer on your phone for them to stop their play, come inside, and refuel. You can find a chart of recommended cold weather guidelines for children, here. If the conditions are simply too frigid for outside play, suggest a fun snow day in with the help of these kid-friendly apps.
4. Keep your furry family members indoors.
It's commonly believed that because dogs and cats have fur coats, they can withstand extreme cold and that's simply not true. Like humans, dogs and cats have only so much tolerance for the cold and if left outside in it for too long, they may develop frostbite or hypothermia. Make sure to bring your pets indoors during cold weather spells and if you have outdoor pets that absolutely cannot come inside, make sure they have adequate shelter/supplies to stay warm. Don't forget to check and refill their water frequently so it doesn't freeze.
5. Don't leave your fireplace unattended.
It's no surprise your fireplace will see a lot of action during cold weather months, but it's imperative to never leave a lit fireplace unattended. Make sure someone is in your home at all times when the fireplace is being used and keep a large glass or metal fire screen in place to catch any sparks or rolling logs from entering the room. Don't forget, fireplace coals can stay hot enough to start a fire for up to three days, so always wait at least that long before safely disposing of the ashes.
6. Keep space heaters a safe distance away from flammable objects.
Space heaters are a great additional source of temporary heat for one or two rooms during the cold weather months, but several safety rules should be followed when using them, considering 43% of winter house fires are caused by space heaters. When using space heaters, place them on a hard, flat surface and make sure they are at least three feet away from any flammable object like rugs, curtains, or blankets. Don't forget to turn your space heater off when you leave the room, house, or go to bed. You can take space heater safety to another level by investing in one that has tip-over protection and overheating auto shut-off mechanisms, like this one tested by Your Best Digs.
7. Protect your home's pipes.
The last thing any homeowner wants is the devastating damage frozen pipes cause. There are several things you can do during cold weather months to keep your pipes from freezing:
- Keep your thermostat turned up to at least 55 degrees Fahrenheit, especially if you're leaving for an extended period of time.
- Let your faucet drip slightly if you're worried a pipe will freeze. Keeping the faucet open to drip will relieve pressure in the plumbing system and prevent it from bursting.
- Try to keep interior doors in your home open to allow heat flow from room to room.
- Give pipes that are located in colder areas of the house, like the basement or attic, extra insulation using inexpensive foam/fiberglass sleeves or heating tape. You can find plenty of insulation products like these at Home Depot.
8. Keep running generators outside.
Should you need to use your generator in the event of a power outage, only operate it outside, preferably under a covered, dry surface. Operating a generator indoors, whether it be the garage or basement, is a safety hazard because carbon monoxide fumes could enter your home. If you've never used a generator before, check out this how-to video from Today's Homeowner.
9. Plan ahead in case of an emergency at home or behind the wheel.
You should always keep a winter storm survival kit in your home and car during cold weather months in the event of an emergency. Your home survival kit should include the basics like perishable food, water, medical supplies, batteries, and plenty of blankets. Your car survival kit should include items like an extra coat, blankets, compact shovel, windshield scraper, booster cables, first-aid supplies, snack foods, and a cell phone adapter. For added security, get together with your friends and family and have everyone download the Find My Friends app, so your inner circle can check your whereabouts in an emergency situation. Don't forget, if you absolutely need to head out in dangerous weather, be sure to tell at least one other person where you're going and when you should arrive so they can check in with you as soon as you're expected to have reached your destination.
10. Download a dependable weather app.
Stay ahead of the next cold weather front by downloading a weather app that gives you up-to-the minute timelines, alerts, and data used by real-life meteorologists. Check out the 10 best weather apps of 2020 to decide which app is best for you. If you want to have a little chuckle while you check the forecast, we highly recommend Carrot Weather.
Just like Missouri's weather forecast, life is constantly changing. It never hurts to check in with your agent annually to make sure you have the appropriate amount of coverage for your home and auto needs - especially if you've experienced a shift in life events recently. Not sure how to reach your agent? We've got you covered.