Tips For Coping With the Cold and Snow

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Dogs and people navigating the snow on West 81st Street and Central Park West (Kate Hinds/WNYC)

Listeners offer their cold weather "hacks" as Scott Omelianuk, editor of This Old House magazine, shares tips for homeowners and Joshua Lockwood, CEO of the American Red Cross Greater New York Region, offers advice for staying safe in the extreme winter weather.


Joshua Lockwood and Scott Omelianuk

Comments [11]

Schaz from Brooklyn

Re space heaters:
especially in buildings with older or inadequate wiring (i.e. question- does your circuit breaker or fuse "trip" a lot?).
Here, the danger is not ONLY with the space heater tipping over, but also in overloading the electrical circuit and causing a fire in that way the area of the plug, or the wiring to the heater, or the wall outlet.
If there is more than one circuit breaker or fuse, put the space heater on a circuit than does not already have major appliances on it, like a refrigerator. And when running the heater try not to add or turn on other appliances on the same circuit where you're using the space heater---again, to prevent overloading the wiring.
Don't just leave the space heater running EVEN you are in the house - instead, check the wire and plug and wall outlet area often -with your hands- when it's in use. Don't just fall asleep and forget it. Force yourself to CHECK ON IT. If you feel the plug or wire or wall outlet is overheating, unplug the space heater immediately!
Never run the wires themselves on or under or near anything that is flammable, in case the wires overheat. Also, in terms of wires, try not to use extension cords with space heaters - but if absolutely necessary, get the very thick, heavy extension cords that are used for air conditioners, to use with the space heater. A thin extension cord used with a space heater is asking for trouble!
When running space heaters try to use the lower wattage (i.e. 600 versus 1200 watts or 1500 watts) if that is sufficient (and available). It may take a while longer to heat the room, but it is safer. Using a lower wattage also saves a bit on expensive NYC electrical costs you won't have as big a surprise with next month's electric bill.

Jan. 23 2014 02:22 PM

Amy from Manhattan-

Yes, you should wear the rubber gloves under your regular winter gloves. If you wear them on top, your hand's moisture condenses on the wool or polartec, they get wet and stop working as insulation. But, if the rubber gloves are worn directly on your hands, the insulating exterior gloves stay dry and warm. It is the same reason why builders staple a moisture barrier on the INSIDE surface of a cold wall, facing the hot moist interior air. Otherwise, the insulation becomes soggy.

Jan. 22 2014 12:51 PM
MattyMac from Forest Hills

I believe caller Danielle's question was mis-interpreted. From I interpret, she has a mini-split air conditioning unit that can also be used for heating by reversing the AC cycle.

Two issues cold be affecting her ability to get heat out of the unit:

1: the outside unit is surrounded by snow and unable to get sufficient air flow - Fix: Dig it Out

2: the Unit just is not powerfull enough to cope with such a low outside temperature: as temp drops, efficency goes down and unit cannot keep up - Fix: Installing a higher rated unit or supplimenting with space heaters.

Jan. 22 2014 12:08 PM
Amy from Manhattan

On leaving a tap trickling to keep pipes from freezing, you can avoid wasting the water by running it into a container & use it for drinking, rinsing, etc.

gebnj, I bought a pair of lined dishwashing gloves for cold, rainy days, & had thought of wearing them *over* thin knit gloves for even colder rainy days, but I didn't know they worked for severe cold too, or about wearing them *under* gloves/mittens!

Jan. 22 2014 12:06 PM
Lars from Brooklyn

To the woman who called about her heater with the outside unit now blowing cold air (ductless central air?). That sounds like a heat pump and they don't work well when the air temperature is near zero like it has been. I think it will start to blow warm air again when the temp rises a bit. Do not cover the outdoor unit as the guest suggested- I think he misunderstood what kind of unit you have. Check with a HVAC repair person.

Jan. 22 2014 12:04 PM

@Ed from Larchmont

You are actually trying to connect the snowfall to the abortion position of the mayor? Really? You do know that people will think you are a nut.

Jan. 22 2014 11:58 AM
Amy from Manhattan

I have a plug-in space heater I don't need. It turns off if it tips over for safety. Can I donate it to the Red Cross or some other organization?

Jan. 22 2014 11:57 AM
Robert from NYC

I second the plastic bags over your socks, been doing it for years and it's great especially to keep feet dry.

Jan. 22 2014 11:57 AM
RLF from Yonkers

I have an old house with no insulation in the walls and plaster on both sides. Can I blow insulation in and what is the best?

Jan. 22 2014 11:55 AM

Most gloves are porous (e.g. polarfleece) and they allow moisture from your hands to evaporate and cool your hands. This is why you can get frostbit even wearing gloves, on a cold windy day. BUT, if you wear a pair of thin latex gloves (or even rubber dish washing gloves) under your mittens, your fingers will stay toasty for hours. Its all about evaporative cooling

Jan. 22 2014 11:52 AM
Ed from Larchmont

Why is it so cold? It was so cold and snowed when the pro-abortion Mayor DeBlasio was inaugurated, and now we have it again for the March for Life in Washington, today at 12:00. A kind of forced Sabbath, to think about what we are doing.

Jan. 22 2014 11:05 AM

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