• Being warm vs. feeling warm
Keep your hands and face covered to avoid frostbite, which is the freezing of your skin. It can happen in just 5 minutes in severely frigid weather. Just like water turns to ice when the temperature drops, your fingers, hands, toes, feet, nose and ears can freeze. Being further away from your core, they are the first organs affected by decreased bloodflow in response to cold. Also, don’t let the booze make a fool of you. Although alcoholic beverages might make you feel warm, they actually decrease your core temperature, which can be dangerous during extreme cold.
• Watch your step
Don’t be deceived by sidewalks or porches that appear clean. Watch out for black ice! Keep a small bag of road salt handy to combat this bone-breaker.
• Furry friends
Walking your dog should be limited to 10 minutes. If you’re caring for outside animals, such as farm animals or neighborhood feral cats, provide enough bedding and insulated shelter for them to keep warm.
• “Three-feet rule”
Space heaters are a great way to add extra heat to colder rooms, but always remember to keep anything flammable at least three feet away from the heater at all times. Flammable items include clothing, rugs, bedding and curtains. Also remember to place the heater on a hard, non-flammable, stable surface and to turn it off completely before leaving the house. Set a reminder on your phone if you’re afraid you’ll forget.
If you are going to be away from home for an extended period of time, don’t lower your heat below 55 degrees.
• Protect Pipes
Letting your hot and cold faucets drip overnight (you do not need a stream of water) goes a long way in preventing frozen pipes. Opening your cabinet doors to allow heat to get to uninsulated pipes under sinks and on exterior walls is also recommended.
• Idling your car
Letting your vehicle idle for a minute or two in extreme cold is all that’s needed. Idling for 10 to 15 minutes could dilute the oil with unburned fuel, resulting in increased engine wear. And it wastes gas.
• Battery care
Before parking the car for the night, shut off the electrical accessories — the heat, radio, interior lights — any power source that could be a drain for the battery. If you don’t have access to a garage, try parking with the hood as near a building as possible to be shielded from the wind. If the car doesn’t start after 15-20 seconds of trying, let the car sit for 2 minutes before trying again.
Keeping the gas tank at half filled can help prevent a fuel line freeze.
• Lock freeze
Shooting WD-40 into the locks can help prevent them from freezing overnight, but it can also gum up the tumblers. Consider buying a deicer instead. Cans typically sell for under $3 at any auto store or Wal-Mart. Some people prefer graphite, which is a dry powder that will not gum up, but that’s way more messy work.
• Coolant, antifreeze
Fill your antifreeze. Green-colored antifreeze is the most common; whichever color you choose, don’t mix colors. Coolant and antifreeze are interchangeable terms.
Coolant is typically sold premixed, that is it is half water, half antifreeze, as it needs to be. Antifreeze can be pure and needs to be mixed.
• Tire pressure
Having the correct tire pressure is essential for proper handling. A temperature change of just 10 degrees can cause a 10 percent reduction, or constriction, of air in tires. Check the optimal tire pressure of your vehicle on the label inside the driver’s door frame or in the owner’s manual. DO NOT USE THE PSI on the TIRE! That’s max capacity for the tire, not for your car’s specific load.
Sources: AccuWeather, Tribune Media, WebMD, AAA auto club