Despite the frigid end to December, January is typically the coldest month of the year. Even though we started January on a mild note, it's important to review cold weather tips. How many of these did you consider during the recent arctic plunge?
Cold Weather Tips
Cold weather often leads to rising utility bills, bursting pipes, and perishing plants. How do you fight back against the frigid frustrations?
Bills: Service your heating equipment. Lower the thermostat a degree to two to save if you can. Wear blankets and layers. Make sure windows and doors are sealed well and replace weatherstripping as needed. Add insulation to help keep warmth inside.
Pipes: Keep water pipes well insulated and reduce any exposed piping from contact with the cold. You may run a slow trickle of water to keep the pipes from freezing on extremely cold days. Keep open flames or heat guns out of the mix to thaw frozen pipes; they often cause fires. Make sure any vent pipes aren't blocked or covered with snow.
Plants & Pets: Most plants outdoors that make it through winter should be able to protect themselves, but some may not be able to sustain extreme cold. Cover plants with burlap or other material to trap some warmth. Please don't cover your pets in burlap. Just bring them inside to a warmer, more sheltered location.
A Chill in the Air
Add a whipping wind to any cold event, and it leads to more rapid onset of frostbite and hypothermia. Older adults and younger children are typically the most susceptible to cold, but homeless and outdoor workers or recreationists can fall victim to cold just as well.
Frostbite: Frozen tissue, typically on extremities, that can lead to permanent body damage if not treated. Often first seen as redness or pain, then numbness.
Hypothermia: A drop in body temperature, when below 95 degrees, requires immediate medical attention.
When wind chills get below around -20 degrees, frostbite and hypothermia can set in within tens of minutes. If the person is wet and unprotected, it can happen sooner.
A few more tips: Don't run generators or gas heaters indoors or use the oven to heat your home, as it can lead to carbon monoxide poisoning or fires. In your car, make sure you keep a full tank of gas and blankets to keep you warm if you get stranded. If you haven't yet, get your car tuned up and ready for winter.
Do You Remember?
Did you know? Some of the coldest temperatures ever recorded in PA happened in January 1994. A period from January 19-22, 1994, featured temperatures dipping as low as -20 to -30 degrees across the commonwealth!
Coldest January Morning Goes To…
The coldest January temperature for the PA database goes to Bradford, McKean County, where a Cooperative Observer measured -36 degrees on January 13, 1977. That's 68 degrees BELOW freezing. Wow!