If you’ve been on Facebook or Twitter at all this past week, your feed has probably been filled with posts about severe cold fronts across the United States. Many Americans are experiencing the lowest temperatures of their lives, and the weather has been of many headaches for people, whether they’re shoveling their driveway every day only to have it covered in snow again within an hour or they’re trying to fly into or out of one of the affected regions.
Record breaking cold and snow
inter, but no one was prepared for this kind of cold. Reports of record breaking temperatures are popping up all across the U.S., especially in the Midwest, affecting up to 140 million Americans . In response, towns have been scrambling to set up shelters and extra aid to get people out of the cold.
The majority of these places are seeing subzero temperatures, and the cold has made its way down the country leaving even the Deep South with subzero and single-digit temperatures.
Bad weather takes it toll on travelers
As you would expect, heavy snow and extreme cold has left many travelers stranded. In just the past week, Flight Aware has reported well over 11,000 flight cancellations while another 32,000 flights have been delayed. The cold weather has airports full of stranded travelers and roads too icy to safely drive on.
Along with putting a halt on air travel, the cold has put an incredible strain on fuel supplies, including natural gas and electricity .
Taking the necessary precautions
These temperatures are nothing to scoff at. In just this past week over a dozen deaths have been reported due to the weather. If you’re in an area that’s affected by the cold, there are a number of precautions you should be taking in order to protect yourself and your property.
Stay inside : It seems obvious, but stay inside as much as possible. Keep dry, don’t overexert yourself if you’re trying to shovel driveways and sidewalks, and if you have to drive on icy roads make sure someone knows where you’re going, when you should arrive, and what route you’re taking.
Watch for hypothermia and frostbite : If you have to be out in the cold, know the signs of hypothermia– shivering, drowsiness, confusion– and frostbite– painful areas of your skin and discoloration, beginning with red and in more severe cases becoming white, grey, or yellow. The faster you can catch on to the signs and get yourself out of cold, the easier it will be to treat your symptoms .
Protect your pets : No matter how much the beg, do not let your pets go outside. The cold could mean hypothermia, frostbite, and even death for animals (pets will exhibit the same symptoms as humans, like shivering and discolored skin, and ears and paws are especially prone to frostbite). If you see animals left outside in the cold, report it to authorities in your area immediately.
Keep your car alive : It’s never fun to be on your way to work and find out that your car won’t start. Keep your car running in the cold by keeping it in the garage if possible, making sure the gas tank is full to avoid freezing, keeping your car filled with plenty of anti-freeze, and it’s always a good idea to have some supplies like extra clothes and a blanket in the back in case you have trouble out on the road.
Don’t let your pipes burst : When pipes freeze they’re likely to crack and even burst. To prevent this, keep cabinet doors open and let faucets drip lightly throughout the day and night.
Avoid traveling if possible : Save yourself the headache of cancellations and delays and stay off icy roads. Of course, if you want to get away, this is a great time for that tropical vacation you’ve always wanted.