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Finding warmth in the face of frigid weather

I am not looking forward to the next several days.

I don’t complain about the weather very much. Despite the fact that the gray days of winter in Ohio can be somewhat disheartening, I know that rain and snow and the cycles of nature are all necessary to keep our world growing and flourishing.

However, I really don’t like to be cold.

I’m not talking about feeling chilly when I get out of bed in the morning. I’m also not referring to the numb fingers and tingling toes I experience when I am standing along the side of a local road in December or January covering a vehicle accident or structure fire.

I am talking about the deep, almost painful, bone-chilling cold that comes with very low temperatures. The kind of cold you can’t seem to overcome, even if you take a hot shower, curl up under a fluffy blanket or drink a steaming cup of coffee or tea.

That is what we have to look forward to in the coming week and then some. Forecasts are calling for temperatures to dip to the low teens or single digits this weekend and on Wednesday, but it will get really cold next weekend. On Friday, predictions say the mercury will fall to 3 degrees Fahrenheit and to -1 on Saturday. Highs will only reach 13-15 degrees on those days.

Those kinds of frigid temperatures are dangerous — for you, for your neighbors and for your pets. Now is the time to prepare for them, so you won’t be caught off guard.

There is always a chance that a power outage could occur during any sort of winter weather event. If you have a generator available to use in the event of an outage, make sure now that it is in good working order and that you know how to use it properly and safely.

Do the same with supplemental heat sources, such as space heaters. If you expect you will need to use one, be sure that it is functioning properly and that you know how to operate it. Ensure that such an appliance is never left running unattended. Do not go to sleep while using one.

It’s also a good idea to know where you can go if you cannot keep your home warm for some reason.

Belmont County Emergency Management Agency supplied us with a list of warming centers across the region that we published last week, and we intend to publish it again before the coming cold snap sets in. Get acquainted with those locations and which ones are closest to your home. If you miss the list on our pages, you can check the EMA’s Facebook page.

If you have pets, make certain they are ready for the coming cold as well. When temperatures get as low as they are predicted to over the next several days, it is not safe to leave pets outdoors without shelter. Plan to bring them inside or provide a heated shelter for them.

Remember, too, that if your pets normally eat and drink outside, their food and water will be frozen and will do little to nourish and hydrate them. Provide plenty of fresh food and water frequently, and do the feeding indoors if you can.

If you must take your pet outdoors for a walk and time to relieve themselves, do your best to protect their paws and pads, which can easily be injured by ice or the frozen ground.

If you are fortunate enough to have a pet that will tolerate booties or a jacket, use those accessories every time you take your pet out. If not, keep your outdoor jaunts short and carefully clean snow and ice from your pets fur and feet as soon as you come back inside.

In addition to looking after your own home and immediate family, remember that everyone is vulnerable to extreme weather. If you have a neighbor or relative who is elderly or who lives alone, check on them during this extremely cold period.

Perhaps COVID-19 will prevent you from popping over with a fresh bowl of soup as you might have in years past, but it can’t stop you from picking up the phone or sending a message via email, social media or by text.

Since you likely will be spending the vast majority of your time indoors while this weather trend passes, it might be a good idea to plan ahead regarding ways to entertain yourself for a few days. Maybe you can start a jigsaw puzzle. Some people might like to pick a particular program to binge watch. Those with the proper skills might want to crochet or knit a scarf, hat, sweater or gloves.

Others might find it soothing to whip up big pots of chili or soup or to make some other delicious dishes. Doing a little baking might be a good idea, too, as a piping hot oven could help take the chill off your home.

However you decide to pass the time, I hope you remain safe and warm until the mercury rises.

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