So global warming isn’t a thing?
Presently, here in Chicago we are breaking records. The temperature has BROKEN the record for the coldest temperature on January 30th in Chicago ever. The temperature dipped to 21 degrees below zero and the wind chill is less than 50 below. The ALL TIME record low temperature in Chicago is 27 below. That feels like it is around the corner.
I recently learned a few things in preparation for this record breaking polar vortex that are relevant for anyone living in a region with extremely cold temperatures. Here we go.
Keep water dripping from faucets
Also keep your cabinets open under sinks and in kitchens to try to keep your pipes from freezing. Make sure cleaning supplies are out of reach of pets or small children. Keeping the room temperature above 60 degrees will help.
If your pipes freeze, DO NOT USE A BLOW TORCH TO UNTHAW YOUR PIPES. Crazy? No, that is a thing. But don’t do it because the integrity of the pipe can be compromised. A hair dryer is a much safer way to unthaw frozen pipes.
Be mindful of furniture or fabrics near space heaters.
We recently had a crayon incident that left our room smokey and took our space heater out of commission at the hands of a melted crayon. Furniture these days is easily ignited and burns very quickly. I wrote an article about fire safety and evacuation practices here. Make sure everyone has a healthy FEAR of the space heater.
Cold air can affect how well you breathe.
If you must go outside, the air is not usual air.
Cold air is very dry. The burning sensation you feel when breathing in cold air is probably due to the combination of heat and water exchange that is occurring early in the inspiration of cold, dry air. For most people, this sensation goes away after a few breaths. It is not known to cause harm in a healthy lung, but can trigger an attack of bronchospasm in someone with asthma.
Keep your inhaler handy and consider wearing a scarf over your face or a facemask.
What about Alcohol? Will that warm me up?
This is a common question and one that is misleading. What happens when you drink alcohol is that you physically feel warmer because of the skin flushing and rerouting of blood flow that can occur. It can also lead to sweating, but actually your CORE body temperature drops during this process.
That means, alcohol can actually make you MORE prone to hypothermia, the dangerously low body temperature that can be life threatening. While alcohol may numb the sensation of cold and take your mind off of your choice of residence (#MidwestFail), it will not warm your body in a healthy way.