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Five Tips to Stay Safe During this Bitter Cold Week

Update Date: Jan 07, 2014 04:17 PM EST

The 'polar vortex' has hit cities throughout the United States as temperatures plummet to record lows. Due to temperatures below zero degrees Fahrenheit and wind chills, flights have been canceled and people are recommended to stay indoors if they can. During these cold times, people must remember to stay safe. Here are five ways to stay safe while facing the bitter cold this week.

1. Bundle Up!

Bundling up might seem like an obvious tip but you would be surprise at how many people might forgo some sort of layer. When wind chills cause temperatures to fall 15 to 30 below zero, frostbite can set in quickly and cause hypothermia. Exposed skin increases one's risk of frostbite, which is why people must remember to wear their thick gloves, scarves and hats. Aside from these accessories, people should layer up their tops and bottoms underneath big and thick jackets.

"You really want to have just about every patch of skin covered," said Maimonides Medical Center chairman of emergency medicine Dr. John Marshall according to CBS Local New York.

2. Stay Indoors

If possible, people should stay indoors. During extremely cold weather, particularly in the early mornings and late evenings, people should not leave their homes if they do not have to. Invest in extra produce to last a few days before having to take another trip to the store. For pet owners, walk your dogs for a short period of time in the middle of the day. Keep their time outside limited as well.

3. Check Carbon Monoxide Machines

During colder weather, people are more likely to use furnaces, ranges, room heaters, water heaters, and portable generators. When these products malfunction, they can produce the colorless and odorless carbon monoxide gas. This gas can cause poisoning and eventually death if not treated on time. In order to prevent poisoning, people should replace the batteries on their machines or invest in the detectors if they do not have them. Some symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning are headaches, vomiting, personality changes and lack of concentration.

4. Do not Warm body with Hot Water

For people who have to go outdoors, it is important to safely warm up the body. Even though a scalding hot bath might sound great, the hot water will burn the numb skin. When warming up, use blankets and allow the body to return to its normal temperature. On top of using blankets, people can also use lukewarm water and drink hot beverages.

5. Protect your Pipes

If not taken care of properly, pipes will freeze in the cold weather. Frozen pipes have a higher chance of breaking, which would ruin the supply of water into the house. During extremely cold temperatures, people should leave their faucets slightly on. Allow water to drip from the faucet. Furthermore, opening up the cabinet under the sink can also keep the pipes from freezing.

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