25 Winter Survival Tips from Madison’s Cold Weather Experts

25 Winter Survival Tips From Madison’s Cold Weather Experts

Published on November 16th, 2016
By Jennifer Oppriecht

Winter is almost upon us!  Prepare to face brutal wind chills, slippery sidewalks, and severe Vitamin D deficiency. To help us get through the arctic cold, we turned to some Madison companies for these 25 winter survival tips.

Each of these companies specializes in a different winter-related area. Make use of their collective tips!

Winter Energy Conservation is a Gift to Us All: Tips from MGE

You may not be so inclined to conserve energy if heat is included in your rent. However, as MGE notes, if we control and reduce our energy use—individually and collectively—we will help to reduce costs for all of us in the long run.

1. Make sure your landlord checks the batteries in your programmable thermostat

Don’t come home to a cold house! Check the batteries before the winter weather gets here.

2. Make sure your smoke detectors are working and have your landlord change batteries

Make sure your smoke detectors are ready to work if you need them.

3. Install a carbon monoxide (CO) detector

CO is a silent killer! If you have a furnace, fireplace, water heater or other appliance that is fueled by fossil fuel, the chances of CO poisoning from malfunctioning appliances increases substantially as houses are closed up for the winter.

Exhaust fumes from an attached garage can also leak into living areas. CO detectors are inexpensive—just plug in and they could save your life.

4. Have your landlord check your furnace filter: Replace when dirty

Before the heating season starts, ask your landlord to change your furnace filter. If the furnace hasn’t been serviced for more than two years, now’s a good time for the landlord to do that too.

5. If health permits, keep the thermostat at 68°F or below

Lower your thermostat at night and when you’re gone (55°F lowest setting). In older buildings with less insulation, Steve Brown Apartments recommends 65°F.

6. Check weather-stripping

Check the weather-stripping around doors and windows and replace as needed. Leaks around windows and doors not only create drafts but also waste heat. Ask your landlord to repair if necessary.

7. Cover wall-mounted air conditioners with plastic film or an air-tight cover

Cover interior of windows with shrink-film plastic, and ask your landlord to provide you with a cover for the air-conditioner.

8. Electric heat is the most expensive

If you heat with electricity, close off unoccupied rooms or turn down its thermostat. (For older homes, there could be pipes running through the wall that need heat. If you know there’s no plumbing in or above that room, it’s safe to close off and not heat the room.

Use portable electric space heaters safely and wisely – they can be very costly!

Use portable electric space heaters safely

9. Winter in Wisconsin means shorter days, longer nights and more lighting

Replace most frequently used incandescent bulbs and with ENERGY STAR certified bulbs. ENERGY STAR bulbs use about 70-90% less energy than traditional incandescent bulbs.

Visit energy2030together.com to learn how together we can create a more sustainable future for our community.

Go Slow: Driving Tips from American Family Insurance

American Family Insurance knows what happens when people don’t adapt to winter driving conditions. I guess when you’ve seen as many winter fender-benders as they have, it can be your “claim” to fame. (Sorry, we couldn’t resist.)

Here are a few tips for vehicle safety from American Family Insurance:

10. Drive appropriately for the conditions

11. Check weather reports before you travel to determine if it’s safe to drive

If the weather is bad and you must go out, strongly consider public transportation.

Consider public transportation in bad weather.

12. Avoid the build up of carbon monoxide in your car and home

Don’t let your car run while parked in the garage, and remove any snow that accumulates near the vehicle’s exhaust pipe.

13. Clear all snow, ice and fog from your windows before driving

14. Drive slowly, and take corrective steering and braking action gradually

15. Turn on your headlights

This will not only improve your visibility, but also make yourself more visible to other motorists.  

16. Use well-traveled routes and let others know your expected arrival time

17. Watch out on bridges

Remember that bridges become slick before roads do in cold conditions, and snow becomes more slippery as the weather gets warmer.

Stay Healthy: People and Pet Tips from Public Health Madison and Dane County

Public Health Madison and Dane County chimes in with some winter health pointers — including ones to help our furry friends:

18. Check on loved ones and neighbors, especially those in fragile health, preferably by telephone

Pay particular attention to older neighbors who may be outdoors attempting to shovel snow or engaged in some other activity that might be putting them at risk.

19. Monitor your food intake and physical output and maintain a regular diet to help your body better handle the severe weather conditions

20. Hydrate – water is usually the best choice

Drinks with caffeine, sugar and alcohol take longer for your body to absorb and do not hydrate as well.

21. People should be aware of the amount and intensity of their physical activity, both indoors and out

Avoid overexertion. Cold weather puts additional strain on the body, especially the heart.

Cold weather put a strain on the body.

22. If you have to go outside, be sure to wear appropriate clothing that will adequately insulate you from the cold and provide protection from the wind

Older adults, those in fragile health and smaller children can be more readily affected by the cold than the average adult.

23. Never leave children or pets alone in vehicles

Temperatures in vehicles can drop rapidly.

24. Pets can be greatly affected by the cold and should not be exposed longer than necessary

Large animals need to be kept out of the wind and have a dry place to lie down. Water supplies should be checked to avoid freezing and diets should be adjusted to increase energy content by 5%.

Be Prepared: Winter Survival Kit Tips from Zimbrick

We’ve already covered winter driving tips. But what happens if you’re on the road and, well, suddenly you’re off the road and in the ditch, or stranded in a snowbank. Every car should have a survival kit. Here are the essentials, courtesy of Zimbrick.

25. Make a survival kit for your car

Items to store in the car include:

  • Cell phone and charger
  • Boots, gloves and hat
  • Blanket or sleeping bag
  • Shovel
  • Flares and/or reflective triangle
  • Coffee can “furnace” with candle
  • Waterproof matches
  • Tire traction material, such as sand or cat litter
  • Ice scraper and brush
  • Small tool kit
  • Flashlight with fresh batteries
  • Jumper cables
  • Tow rope or chain
  • Non-perishable food and high calorie snacks
  • Bottled water
  • First-aid kit
  • Any medically-critical prescription medications
Winter Renter Round-Up from SBA: Some Final Warm Thoughts

We’ve given you 25 tips from Madison companies, now it’s our turn. We’ve posted some articles in the past on a few winter topics that affect renters most. Check ‘em out:

17 Ways to Overcome Cabin Fever in Madison

16 Ways to Keep Warm in a Madison Apartment

Defeating Draco: How to Brave a Blizzard as a Renter in Madison, WI

Smart (and Stupid) Ways to Save Money on Your Apartment Heating Bill

Frozen Auto Facts: How to Master Madison Winter Parking Rules

In a few weeks, we’ll also add our annual additions to:

Finding the Fun Over Winter Break: Things to Do in Madison

Keep warm, stay safe, and enjoy the Wisconsin Winter Wonderland (indoors or out)!

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