Frigid temperatures are coming to the Philadelphia area (and the rest of the East Coast) tonight through Wednesday morning. Here are 10 things to know about protecting yourself and your home from the cold.
1. Dress in layers: Hats, scarves and mittens will all help keep you warm. Cover your mouth to protect your lungs from the cold air.
2. Watch out for water: Hypothermia can be more likely to occur if a person gets chilled from rain, sweat or cold water.
3. Know the signs: Learn about symptoms of hypothermia and frostbite, so you know whether to seek medical attention. For frostbite, watch out for skin that has lost feeling; looks white, pale, hard or waxy; and turns red, purple or blue as it thaws. Frostbitten tissue may also feel tingling, burning and pain as it thaws. Warning signs of hypothermia include shivering, exhaustion, confusion, memory loss, slurred speech, low energy and bright red, cold skin in infants.
4. Warm up: If you feel chilled from being out in the cold, get to warm area, put on warm, dry clothes and wrap yourself in a blanket and drink warm non-alcoholic and non-caffeinated beverages.
5. Heat safely: Inspect your heating equipment regularly and make sure it's working properly. Keep flammable items at least three feet away from heat sources.
6. Space heater caution: If you're using a space heater, make sure it has a label listing a recognized testing laboratory, and pick a model that will automatically turn off if it tips over.
7. Use the right heat sources: Don't use an oven or stove burner to heat your home, or use a space heater to dry clothing.
8. Don't overload sockets: Plug just one heat-producing applicance into an electrical outlet at a time, and don't connect heat appliances to power strips.
9. Prevent carbon monoxide poisoning: Install and maintain carbon monoxide alarms.
10. Prevent, fix frozen pipes: Run water, even just a trickle, to help keep pipes from freezing. If you need to thaw a frozen pipe, use hot water or device specifically made for thawing pipes. Do not use a blow torch or other open flame.
Sources: Philadelphia Office of Emergency Management, Federal Emergency Management Agency, Philadelphia Fire Department, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Red Cross