Polar Vortex Blasts Midwest, Northeast… Here’s Your Checklist for Next Time

Did you hear a loud sigh of relief last week? I did. I’m pretty sure it came from hundreds of millions of Americans. Right after the latest polar vortex finally finished running its course.

This deep freeze was one for the ages. At one point, six states registered temperatures colder than those at the South Pole.

It was colder in some parts of Midwestern and Northeastern states than it was in Siberia.

Airports, businesses, post offices and schools closed. Warming centers opened. Pipes froze, cars wouldn’t start and power went out in some places.

Wind Chills Top 50 Below

Temperatures plunged to minus 23 degrees in Chicago and Milwaukee. It was 27 below in Minneapolis and 25 below in Sioux Falls.

And those were the Fahrenheit temperatures. Wind chills were much worse, including 50 below in some places and 40 below in others.

Rail lines were snapped and utilities were strained. Everything was frozen.

And countless numbers of people urgently prayed that their over-worked furnaces would keep running.

21 Dead Due to Conditions

In much of the Midwest and Northeast, people were warned not to step outside of their homes without plenty of protection. Even for just a few minutes, as frostbite can come on quickly. (For those in Chicago, in as little as 10 minutes outside!)

Governors in Minnesota and Wisconsin declared states of emergency. Twenty-one deaths were linked to the wintry blast. Including a University of Iowa student found unresponsive on campus grounds.

Others who perished from the cold included an 82-year-old Illinois man from exposure. And a 22-year-old Indiana police officer and his wife after a crash on an icy road.

A Chicago man was struck and killed by a snowplow, while a Milwaukee man was found frozen to death in his garage.

Your Polar Vortex Checklist

We can all agree that we’re getting much more extreme weather than we ever have before. It’s important to think about what you need to do to prepare for the next polar vortex. Especially since we’ve still got about six more weeks of winter left.

Here’s a checklist to help you get ready:

  • Winterize your car. Make sure your tires can handle snow and that you have antifreeze strong enough for the conditions. Keep blankets, extra clothes, flares, food and water bottles in your vehicle.
  • Remain inside as much as possible. Hypothermia can come on quickly, as can frostbite. Wind chills can speed up both processes.
  • Bundle up. If you need to go outside, make sure all your skin is covered. In extreme cold, mittens are can be warmer than gloves.
  • Stockpile food and water. This is a good idea under normal circumstances, but even more crucial in a polar vortex.
  • Seal doors and windows. Determine the places in your home where the cold is most likely to enter. That’s usually windows and doors, so seal them the best you can.
  • Get an alternative heating source. Be prepared for your furnace to go out. Have a wood burner or plenty of wood for your fireplace just in case.
  • Wrap pipes. The closer a water pipe is to the outside of your home, the greater chance of it freezing. Wrap your pipes in tape prior to a polar vortex. During it, keep a small but steady trickle of water flowing from your faucets.

Dangerous “Boiling Water Challenge” Goes Viral

Although it should go without saying folks, please don’t take part in the viral “Boiling Water Challenge” that’s taking over the internet.

People are taking video of themselves throwing boiling water into the air to watch it instantly turn into a cloud of snow. At least 8 people have been rushed to the hospital with serious burns, ranging from the young age of 3 all the way to 53 years old.

The absolute worst thing you can do during one of these extreme storms is not take the dangers seriously.

We can’t stop polar vortexes from occasionally sending frigid air down from the Arctic. All we can do is prepare to the best of our abilities. Please do… that preparation could save your life.

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