ANCHORAGE (KTUU) - With extreme cold comes many risks for people of all ages, whether that's with how people dress, heat their homes or take care of their cars.
Are you making one of the most common mistakes? Check out our list and chime in on the Morning Edition Facebook with your tips and tricks.
BODY: Three of the biggest risks in winter are frostbite, hypothermia and hypoglycemia, all of which can set in rapidly in extreme cold. You can check out a military cold weather casualty and injury chart here.
Mistake No. 1: You're not wearing enough clothing. Common sense? Yes. But even if you fear getting too hot with too much clothing on, it's better to be able to peel off layers than not have enough clothing to wear in temps like these.
Mistake No. 2: You're not eating or hydrating properly. While hypothermia is a big risk, so are hypoglycemia and dehydration. The cold can rapidly deplete energy stores, so it's important to keep your blood sugar and calorie intake at decent levels. As for hydration, keep a water bottle handy, especially during winter months. Breathing in cold, dry air causes the body to lose a ton of fluid, and sweat turns right into vapor, which means we also won't get the usual visual cues to hydrate.
Mistake No. 3: You're letting yourself overheat. It's certainly a balance, and you may never really be comfortable in weather like the conditions currently seen around Alaska, but overheating is still a risk even in super low temperatures. Do your best to strike a balance and know that it is possible to be too warm in cold weather.
Mistake No. 4: You're not wearing loose, layered clothing. Loose layers allow for breathing room but insulation, too. Think of double-paned windows. Tight clothes can also feel restricting. The last thing you want is to make conditions more difficult for yourself.
HOME: As with dress, you should try to strike a balance with heating your home. You'll want your residence to be warm enough so pipes don't burst, but not so warm that you're wasting money or overwhelming your furnace.
Mistake No. 1: You treat your thermostat like the accelerator of a car. Blasting the heat in your home won't warm it faster; it will make your furnace work harder. Keep temps at reasonable levels and be patient when trying to heat up an entire house.
Mistake No. 2: You turn the heat wayyyyy down when you're out or sleeping. Turning your heat down can save you money, but don't forget, the more you turn it down, the more work your furnace has to do to heat it back up. Same with a wood burning stove: You'll have to burn more wood to bring the temps back up. Also, make sure you don't get temps in your home so low that pipes freeze.
Mistake No. 3: You don't use the sun. You can get a bit of extra heat by utilizing sunlight. Open up those curtains and let the rays in.
Mistake No. 4: You don't seal your home. Windows, cracks, unused doors and other spaces can leave room for cold air to come in, and warm air to escape. Many people use saran wrap or foil to add an extra layer to windows. Locking windows and door can also help seal them.
VEHICLE: Your car might be taking the brunt of winter's blustery conditions, but it may also be victim of some common season mistakes, too.
Mistake No. 1: You leave your car idling for too long. Newer cars only take a few minutes to warm up. On the other hand, you'll want to have started your car a bit before you begin to drive in order to reduce your risk of a vehicle fire. That being said, you don't want to let it sit running for extended periods of time. Engines weren't designed for that, and doing so can damage spark plugs and cause long-term problems.
Mistake No. 2: You pour warm or hot water on your windshield to clear it. Doing this will likely result in an icier windshield, or a broken one. You risk shattering the glass by using hot water. Try using a really good scraper instead, and make sure you clear your whole windshield - not just a small view hole - as well as mirrors, headlights, brake lights, back windshield and other windows before heading out.
Mistake No. 3: You don't consistently check the levels in your vehicle. Oil? Windshield wiper fluid? Coolant? Tire pressure? Make sure you have everything you need before you head out the door. If you need gas, get it, and try to keep your tank at half full or better. You never know what could happen.
Mistake No. 4: You don't have an emergency kit. Vehicle emergency kits can be lifesavers. Flares, tow ropes, kitty litter, and other car items are good to have. Even a piece of cardboard can help you get unstuck. But simple things such as granola bars, extra blankets and a flashlight could also be the difference makers should you get stranded in chilly weather. Find out what the Red Cross recommends for a full-throttle winter vehicle emergency kit here.
Mistake No. 5: You don't check the weather before hitting the road. Safety should always be a priority. Especially in winter conditions, checking the weather can be extremely helpful and keep you from getting into a roadside mess. Buckle up, be alert, and know that cars may be pulled over in distress. Also know that Winter Weather Advisories mean winter conditions are expected to cause big-time inconveniences; Storm Watches indicate storm conditions within the next 36 to 48 hours, and Storm Warnings mean that severe conditions will start up within 24 hours or so.
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