LANHAM, Md. (CBSDC) – It may be March, but Old Man Winter isn’t done with the Washington area just yet. With upwards of a foot of snow forecasted for parts of the region, following these tips can help to prevent the otherwise inevitable headaches that come with hazardous weather conditions.
Dressing For The Cold
Wearing layers of clothing can help to maintain body heat, preventing the development of frostbite and hypothermia.
Choosing appropriate fabric when layering can also serve different functions during frigid temperatures.
Wearing thermal underwear made of a synthetic, usually polyester fiber that has “wicking power,” will move moisture away from the skin and pass it through the fabric so that it will evaporate. Cotton as a bottom layer should be avoided as the fabric tends to retain moisture.
Wearing protective gear — such as a hat or headband — are essential for staying warm as up to 60 percent of your body’s heat can escape from an uncovered head. Highs are expected in the mid-30s on Monday.
Following these tips when digging out your snowed-in car can help to save time and avoid strains. If your car lock freezes up, you can use a light or match to help heat the key. You can also use a lock de-icer.
To keep your doors from freezing shut, its best to keep your car in a garage. If you don’t have a garage, apply a coat of petroleum jelly to door hinges and latches, or place a plastic trash bag between the door or window glass and the frame. Do not throw hot water on the car as it will freeze.
If you’re snowed in and can’t get out of your driveway, make some calls to snow removal companies. While this is a busy time, a provider may be able to squeeze you in. Check with your neighbors to see if there is a snow blower you can borrow. Canceled classes mean students are home from school. They might be interested in making some extra money shoveling your driveway and walkways.
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Shoveling The White Stuff
With shoveling-related emergencies already claiming the lives of two Howard County residents this season, officials are urging residents to take it easy and to help neighbors with shoveling if needed.
Taking breaks while shoveling can help relief stress on the body and straining. Bend your knees and lift with your legs while shoveling. As you lift, keep the shovel blade close to you, which can reduce back pains.
There may be a link between weather and the risk of suffering a stroke, researchers who analyzed climate trends and hospital records on millions of Americans have found. Cold weather, high humidity and big daily temperature swings seem to land more people in the hospital with strokes.
Blood vessels constrict in cold weather, which can raise blood pressure. Extreme weather can trigger a stress reaction by the body, causing it to release substances “that not only increase the work of the heart” but make blood stickier and more likely to clot.
Driving In Snow
If you must travel during or shortly after a storm, prepare your car for the road beforehand and drive slowly and carefully while out. Also watch for black ice when driving. The Maryland State Highway Administration advises drivers to make sure car radiators and windshield washer fluid tanks are full.
“In addition to normal supplies in your car, keep some extra blankets and snacks, such as energy bars, available in case you become stranded,” The Maryland Emergency Management Agency advises. “Allow at least three times more space than usual between you and the car in front of you.”
If you’re power goes out, make sure to call your power company. While they will also be busy, many people assume another neighbor has already called to report an outage. Though the company may already be aware of the outage, notifying them can help the company more accurately keep track of what areas are without power.
Keep your refrigerator and freezer doors closed as much as possible. An unopened freezer should keep food frozen up to 48 hours. Food should remain cold in an unopened refrigerator for 24 hours. If power is out for an extended period of time, snowdrifts can be used as a makeshift freezer for food.
Unplug all equipment that will automatically turn on when power is restored or that may become damaged due to voltage irregularities. Use flashlights for emergency lighting; avoid using candles.
Do not run a generator inside a home or garage. The exhaust from a generator contains lethal carbon monoxide.
Other Problems At Home
If your furnace goes out, call your service provider. Use an alternative heat source, such as a wood stove or fireplace, in the meantime. Do not use your stove or oven as a source of heat as this increases your risk of carbon monoxide poisoning.
For frozen pipes, soak towels in hot water and wrap them around the cold sections of the pipe. Keep cabinet doors open to allow warm air to circulate around pipes. Turn on faucets enough to let them drip slowly. Keeping water moving within pipes will prevent freezing.
Also make sure to monitor your faucets for reduced water flow.
If a pipe has burst, shut off the main valve and call a plumber.