Extreme cold on a winter porch
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Winter wisdom, stay prepared

How to Stay Safe Through Extreme Cold

Kelsey Bourgeois
January 12, 2024

Tip 1: Don't go anywhere if you don't have to.

Stay inside during the coldest times (when the sun is down or the wind is blowing). If you choose to shovel, bundle up and take your time. If you're not used to strenuous physical activity, shoveling can be hard on your heart. Better to do this task safely than quickly. Take breaks by coming inside and thawing out as needed.

Tip 2: If you do need to travel

Check a few key things about your car:

  • Tire pressure, cold weather decreases tire pressure, which increases the chances of blowing a tire.
  • A full tank of gas (both for the weight on the roads and emergency preparedness) or a full EV battery charge, the weight of your EV battery will help in this weather.

Also, keep a winter survival kit in your car. That includes:

  • Blankets, hats and mittens/gloves, boots, hand warmers
  • A shovel, ice scraper, and some cat litter or sand to help with traction if you get stuck
  • Protein bars and bottled water.

Tip 3: Water Pipes

Know where your water shutoff(s) are. If your pipes freeze (you'll know they're frozen if you go to turn on a faucet and no water comes out), shut off the water supply until you can verify that there aren't leaks and everything is thawed out. You may wish to have bottled or canned drinking water on hand just in case.

If you have water lines in the exterior walls of your house and are worried about frozen pipes, you can leave faucets dripping. A non-wasteful alternative is to leave the cabinets under sinks open so that warm air can circulate around the pipes.

Lastly, if you’re worried about pipes freezing, you can put a space heater in the room with your pipes. Check on that regularly. Do not leave a space heater on in a room for extended periods unmonitored. Keep the space heater 3 feet away from anything flammable. Don't use an extension cord with a space heater.

Tip 4: Pets & Plants

Bring your pets inside and only take them out if necessary (aka bathroom trips). If you have plants near windows, you may wish to move them a little closer to the interior of the home. If you have nonnative or non-adapted plants outside that can’t stand this cold, bring them inside.

Tip 5: Thermostats

Normally, we love to see folks keep their thermostats cooler in the evening to save energy, but we recommend keeping yours set to the day time warm temperature 24 hours a day during extreme cold like this.

Do not use outdoor propane heaters, grills and other outdoor heat sources inside your home under any circumstances.

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