Jan 17, 2024 - Climate

How to prepare for extreme cold in the D.C. area

Illustration: Brendan Lynch/Axios
Illustration: Brendan Lynch/Axios

The D.C. area is braving the bitter cold, with frigid wind chills and possibly more snow or freezing rain later in the week.

Be smart: Taking certain measures and precautions could help keep you better prepared against any health risks during the frigid temperatures.

Zoom in: Mayor Bowser issued a cold weather emergency through Thursday and is asking the public to check in on unsheltered neighbors, senior citizens, and other vulnerable people.

  • The city provides a map of hypothermia shelter sites and overnight warming sites, with information on number of beds available.
  • If someone is in need of shelter, call the hotline at 202-399-7093, 311, or 911 in case of emergencies.

Here's how you can prepare ...

🏠 Your home

  • To help avoid freezing pipes: Keep garage doors closed, open kitchen and bathroom cabinet doors for more air circulation, let cold water drip from the faucets, and try setting one thermostat temperature for the whole day, Consumer Reports recommends.
  • Make sure you have installed a smoke alarm and carbon monoxide detector and that you have extra batteries on hand, as winter storms can create a higher risk of carbon monoxide poisoning, per Ready.gov.

🚙 Your car

  • Prepare an emergency kit for your vehicle. That should include "jumper cables, sand, a flashlight, warm clothes, blankets, bottled water, and non-perishable snacks," according to Ready.gov.

🐶 Your pets

  • Protect pets' paws from the salt and chemicals for snow and ice melting, which can irritate their paws, by using a damp towel prior to them licking their paws, per the Red Cross.

🚨 Emergency supplies

The American Red Cross recommends two separate kits, one for at home and one for if travel is necessary.

  • Go-kit: The organization recommends at least three days of supplies to take with you. This should include "critical backup batteries and chargers for your devices (cell phone, CPAP, wheelchair, etc.)," they note.
  • Stay-at-home kit: Have at least two weeks of supplies for your home.

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