Baby, It’s Cold Outside (tips for winter survival)

December 9, 2009 · by pcriadmin · Uncategorized

Record cold?  Check.  Icy wind?  Double check.  Freezing rain and snow?  On its way.  How does one cope with this frigid weather?  Here’s a collection of tips to make the best of it:

Arctic Blast 2008

Of course, keeping yourself warm is key.  If you’re reading this, chances are you’re in a place you can stay warm.  If not–or if you know someone who needs a place to thaw out, check out 211Info’s list of Portland-area warming centers.

On the other hand, if you’re trying to keep your own home toasty to cope with Arctic Blast ’09, there’s a lot you can do to help keep the warm in and the cold out.  And in the process, you’ll save money on your heating bill!

  • If you have draperies on your windows, open them during the day to let the sun warm the room.  But in the evening, close ’em tight: they will help act as a barrier against cold air coming off the windows.
  • Whether or not you have draperies, double-check that windows are closed tight.  Latch any window locks too–they will help ensure the windows are shut as snug as possible.
  • For your doors, check for any incoming cool air.  You can purchase or make draft stoppers that lie at the base of your door, keeping cold air from flowing inside.  In a pinch, a rolled up towel does the trick too.
  • Close any foundation vents (but make a note to open them in the spring so moist air can vent and doesn’t cause rot).

But don’t stop once you’ve tackled the drafts.  There are  a handful of other tricks to make the best of the situation:

  • If you can, rearrange your furniture away from cool spots in a room.  Feel a breeze sitting in your favorite chair?  Slide it to another part of the room where you’re away from the cool window or door.
  • Space heaters can be an option to heat a small area (and can cost less if you’re heating areas you don’t use).  BUT … space heaters can start fires too!  Make sure to keep clear space around the heater and definitely switch it off when you leave the room.
  • Use common sense with fireplaces, too.  Use a fire screen to keep sparks from flying into the room, keep plenty of clear space and always put the fire out before you leave.
  • Have a ceiling fan?  It works in cold weather too!  Look for a reverse switch which will allow the fan to push warm air back down into lower areas of the room.

Your home needs protection from the cold weather too, so don’t forget about its needs:

  • Disconnect and drain all outdoor hoses (and irrigation/sprinklers, if you have them)
  • Turn off outside water lines and open the outside spigots to drain standing water from the pipes.
  • To prevent water pipes from freezing, wrap outdoor faucets and pipes in unheated areas with an insulating material.  An old t-shirt or towel works for this, or hardware stores sell insulating “hats”.
  • In extreme cold, a trickle of water running from the indoor faucet farthest away from your main water pipe (where water enters the house) may help to keep indoor pipes from freezing.  Use cold water to avoid gas or electric heating charges. Just remember: a little bit goes a long way!

Finally, don’t forget your pets.  They need extra care in the cold weather, just like you and I do.

  • If possible, bring your pets indoors when the temperature dips below 30 degrees–with or without the wind chill.  Dogs and cats can get frost bitten ears, nose, and feet if left outside.
  • If Spot does stay outside, he’ll need a dry, elevated house with clean, dry bedding and a flap over the opening to keep drafts out.  Use plastic food and water bowls Spot’s tongue can stick to cold metal.  (Remember the flag pole in 3rd grade?)  Check throughout the day to make sure water bowls are not frozen.
  • Chemicals used to melt snow on sidewalks can irritate pets’ paws.  Wipe Fido’s paws when he comes inside so he doesn’t eat the salt, antifreeze or other chemicals used on snow and ice.  Cleaning paws is also a good time to check for injuries: his paw pads can bleed from snow or encrusted ice.
  • Keep in mind, indoor pets get less exercise in the cold months, so feed them less.
  • Outdoor pets are the opposite, give them more food. Outdoor dogs and cats need more calories in the winter to produce body heat.

Winter Sunrise over Mississippi Ave

Now that you’ve got that all taken care of … heat up a hot cup of tea, maybe come hot cocoa, sit back and enjoy these clear, sunny skies while they last!

Have more tips?  Don’t hesitate to leave them in the comments!

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