Stay Safe in Frigid Weather
It’s here — the polar vortex. While, in my opinion, this sounds like some sort of enemy we could call on the Avengers to defeat, the polar vortex is a natural phenomenon. The mass of cold air typically bound at the North Pole by jet streams and the like has slipped down, nudging the U.S. with a lobe-shaped area of frigid temperatures.
Far more than your average cold front, this is arctic air and requires some extra preparation to keep you, your home, your vehicle or your loved ones from facing injury. It’s important to remember that temperatures this cold are dangerous and can cause much more than just complaints of feeling like a popsicle. With wind chills below zero as far south as Richmond, folks in the metro-D.C. area are seeing a rare sight — schools closed due to the cold!
What to wear
This isn’t the time to dash out to your car without a coat, even for a moment. Exposed skin can actually freeze in five minutes, so be sure to wear your hat, scarf and hand protection. Mittens keep you warmer than gloves, say experts, so now’s the time to trade mobility for warmth.
If your usual schedule would have you walking or waiting for a bus, maybe this is the time to spring for a taxi or ride with a friend. Even the most hardcore of runners should stay inside in these temperatures — spend a few days doing yoga, running on the treadmill or hitting the weight rack.
Things that may be an inconvenience in normal weather can be life-threatening in the extreme cold. Make sure your gas tank is full on your commute and check your tire pressure, as the cold can affect tires and cause leaks or bursts. Keep an emergency kit in your car with flares and blankets, and make sure your phone is fully charged before you set out.
Keep an eye out for others
D.C. Government officials are initiating programs to help the homeless, but they need your help. If you see someone outside in these temperatures with nowhere to go, call the Hypothermia Shelter Hotline at 202-399-7093. These temperatures can kill, so while you’re hustling to your warm apartment or in for coffee, keep your eyes peeled for those less fortunate. Our whole city deserves to be happy and healthy!
Health editor, Tini Howard is a writer, aerialist and foodie from the East Coast.