Tips for protecting yourself in dangerous cold, keeping your house warmer

Metro Detroit getting snow, then dangerously cold temps


DETROIT – The coldest air in 25 years is on the way to Metro Detroit -- air so cold that schools will close for (at least) another two days this week.  

The last time it was as cold as it’s going to get was Jan.19, 1994, when Detroit had a high of -4 degrees, and a low of -20 degrees -- the coldest day in recorded Detroit weather history. We’ll approach those numbers on Wednesday in particular, but may fall just short.

Here are some tips to help protect yourself, and keep your house warmer:

If you’ll be out in the elements for more than a few minutes, be aware that, at wind chills expected Wednesday into Thursday, frostbite can potentially develop less than fifteen minutes after exposure. Anything that covers up exposed skin is a huge help, and remember that mittens are better than gloves. 

Also remember to dress in layers (yes, you’ve heard this over and over many times, but this really works because there is a layer of air in between each layer of clothing -- and that air is an outstanding insulator).

Remember that extreme cold significantly enhances serious medical problems for those with heart conditions.  If you have any kind of heart condition, DO NOT EXERT YOURSELF IN THIS WEATHER.

If you need to get the snow shoveled off your driveway or sidewalk, hire a kid down the street or a snow plow company to do it for you.

Keeping your house warmer

One of the simplest things you can do to keep your home warmer is to make sure the drapes and blinds are open on the south (sun) side of the house, and are closed on the north (shade) side of the house. That sunshine coming in the windows really does help warm those rooms.  

Conversely, keeping the blinds and drapes closed on the shady side of the house adds a small layer of insulation to help keep some of the cold trapped to the window. Obviously, if the sun isn’t shining in, then close the drapes and blinds on those south facing windows, too.  

Something else you can do is keep the doors to unused rooms closed, and close the heat registers in those rooms to help force more warm air into the rooms you are using.  And always make sure to have a clean filter in your furnace so it can run more efficiently.

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