Next week may bring some of the coldest temperatures to descend on the Twin Cities in nearly 20 years, and Fox 9 News compiled a list of thing to help people prepare for a whole new level of #stupidcold weather.
Many Minnesotans wait until the last minute to accept that Old Man Winter is settling in for some serious cold -- or avoid dealing with it at all, but that's a risk that comes with some potentially dangerous consequences.
1. Winterize your wardrobe
Whether it's a full-body jump suit or several layers that may or may not match, it's important to dress for safety and not style when the subzero temperatures set in.
"Look at me. Do I look like a fashion statement?" Albert Tule asked as he demonstrated his get-through-winter garb. "I'm an old, married man with kids. I got no one to impress, and I'm nice and toasty."
While a set of long-johns and a heavy coat may have done the trick so far, the temperatures aren't expected to make it above zero at any point during Monday or Tuesday. In fact, the low temperature on Sunday night is expected to dip into the -20s, and Fox 9 Chief Meteorologist Ian Leonard doesn't expect Monday's high to go above -14.
"You want to make sure you have something that's going to wick the moisture off of you and keep the sweat off of you, because the cotton just leaves it on you," recommends Shawn Mack, manager of The House Outdoor Gear in Little Canada. "That's when you start getting chilled and cold."
It's also important to cover your fingers, toes, ears and nose, because at those temperatures, it only takes minutes for frostbite to set in.
2. Check your car.
Nick Stoffel has already seen a lot of cars come through the doors of Lloyd's Automotive in St. Paul, and he warns that extreme winter cold can take a toll on the machines many people rely on for transportation.
"At this near-zero or subzero weather, it may not start Monday or Tuesday," Stoffel said.
At a minimum, Stoffel recommends making sure the battery and wheels are at full capacity, since they can be drained by the below-freezing temperatures. Anyone who has been putting off some maintenance may also want to schedule an appointment before the bigger chill.
3. Keep a kit.
If you ever make it from Point A to Point B but then find yourself stranded, the best way to increase your odds of surviving the severe cold in your car is by preparing a kit in advance.
WINTER SURVIVAL ON THE ROAD: http://bit.ly/1ixW9F6
Some suggested items include:
- Food items that won't freeze solid
- Chewing gum
- Flashlight and spare batteries
- Sleeping bag
- Cell phone adapter for charging
The Minnesota Department of Public Safety's checklist even recommends keeping chocolate on hand, but not just for comfort in slow winter traffic. The amount of calories per compact square can go a long way, especially since the body requires extra energy to keep itself warm.
4. Prepare your place.
Extreme cold can also strain furnaces and pipes, so it's important to make sure everything is in working order -- and that you also have devices like smoke and carbon detectors to warn you if it's not.
A lot of energy can escape through windows and doors, so finding ways to keep the heat you use where you need it can be a big boon to your monthly budget.
5. Get help with heat.
With the wicked winter cold setting in a little earlier this year, heating bills will likely be a bit higher than many Minnesotans are used to. That's why the Commerce Department is reminding anyone who may be struggling with their bills that the cold weather rule will keep the heat on as long as you take the initiative to negotiate with the utility company.
"A payment plan will be set up so you will not be shut off from your electricity or gas," Mike Rothman assured.
Low-income renters or homeowners may be eligible for help with paying for their utilities in cold weather months. To learn more about cold weather utility assistance, click here: http://mn.gov/commerce/energy/consumers/Heating-Assistance/index.jsp