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IT’S COLD OUTSIDE…BRR

By Ernie Smith / Jan 2, 2018(Charles/E+/Getty Images Plus)

If you haven’t noticed or perhaps been outside in the past couple of weeks (lucky you), it’s really cold right now in the U.S. Like, really cold—and it’s all thanks to an arctic blast that has gripped nearly the entire country, putting wind chills below freezing temperatures even in some of the most southern parts of the United States. The phrase “record low” is one you might be hearing in your local area.
Associations, as you might guess, are often prepared for situations like this and have lots of advice at the ready during times of extreme cold. A few tips from groups far and wide:
Watch your pipes: At low temperatures, water pipes can run into all sorts of issues, and failing to account for the impact ice can have on those pipes could cause significant damage—even a burst pipe! The Insurance Institute for Business & Home Safety offers a number of suggestions for preventing unnecessary damage caused by frozen pipes.
Keep an eye on your space heater: If you’re having issues keeping a room warm, you might try a space heater to ensure that everything stays toasty. That’s all well and good, but don’t forget about the place that safety has when running these devices. The National Fire Protection Association offers a fact sheet [PDF] on different kinds of space heaters. NFPA says that electric ones are the riskiest of the bunch and emphasizes that there are safety measures to take no matter the kind of heater you’re using—don’t put them in walkways, plug them directly into the outlet rather than an extension cord, and avoid putting them within three feet of anything flammable.
A false sense of warmth: A cocktail or two might make you feel the cold just a little less, but that doesn’t mean that your body is impervious to its effects. The American Heart Association warns that physical stress on the heart and other parts of the body is possible when the temperature gets cold. In particular, AHA warns against drinking before or right after shoveling snow. “Alcohol may increase a person’s sensation of warmth and may cause them to underestimate the extra strain their body is under in the cold,” the association states on its resource page.
Keep your pets inside: Just like humans, animals have limits to what they can endure outside. The American Veterinary Medical Association, fittingly, has a number of recommendations to ensure your pets stay healthy in the chilly weather. A key point made by AVMA: You should probably keep your pets inside right now. “Like people, cats and dogs are susceptible to frostbite and hypothermia and should be kept inside,” the group states on its website. “Longer-haired and thick-coated dog breeds, such as huskies and other dogs bred for colder climates, are more tolerant of cold weather; but no pet should be left outside for long periods of time in below-freezing weather.”

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