Bone-chilling, record-breaking cold weather is hitting many parts of the U.S. in the first blast of winter for the new year. Remember that dressing in layers is important when the temperatures drop. Experts recommend wearing several layers of loose-fitting, lightweight, warm clothing rather than one layer of heavy clothing. Outer garments should be tightly woven and water-repellent.
Mittens are warmer than gloves and wear a hat. It's also recommended that you cover your mouth with a scarf to protect your lungs from extremely cold air. Wear sturdy, waterproof boots in snow or flooding conditions. And remember that if you lose your power and are using kerosene heaters make sure you maintain ventilation to avoid a build-up of toxic fumes. Keep heaters at least three feet from flammable objects and refuel kerosene heaters outside.
Driving is also more dangerous when the weather turns cold. Make sure you have the correct supplies in your family car. In your trunk, you should have extra blankets, warm clothing, booster cables and tools, bottled water, canned fruits and nuts, a first aid kit, fire extinguisher, flashlight and batteries, traction mats or chains, a shovel and ice scrapers. It's also a good idea to have a colorful scarf or piece of bright cloth to tie to your radio antennae to signal that you need help.
If you are caught in a storm or blizzard and your car becomes stuck, it is important to stay in the car and await rescue. Only leave the car and walk for help if you can see a definite safe-haven - like a house or a school - within a reasonable distance. When you are waiting in your car, turn on the engine for brief periods to provide heat, but always leave a down-wind window open slightly to avoid deadly carbon monoxide poisoning. Also, make sure the exhaust pipe is clear of snow. Leave the dome light on at night to signal rescuers, and exercise occasionally by clapping hands or moving around.