Much of the UK is being hit with another major cold snap.
Here are some tips for coping with the sub-zero temperatures.
What’s the best way to de-ice your car?
Marita Moloney, BBC News Live reporter writes:
Many of us will be waking up to frozen landscapes – and the need to de-ice our cars.
But it’s not just a matter of pouring hot water on the windscreen and driving off.
In fact, this is exactly what you shouldn’t do. Pouring hot or boiling water on a frozen windscreen can crack the glass, or quickly freeze again on the screen.
Instead, the AA says you should turn on your car – ensuring the wipers are off to avoid damage – and then turn on the warm air blower on the windscreen.
You should also turn on your rear windscreen heater, plus the air con to ensure your windows don’t fog up.
The next step is to clear any snow with a soft brush, before moving on to using a scraper and de-icer on the car.
The AA also advises motorists to steer clear of any hacks they might have heard of – including using half a potato on the inside windows to stop them steaming up.
Are there more infections around in winter?
Michelle Roberts, BBC News health editor writes:
Flu and certain other diseases that cause colds and sore throats are more common at this time of year.
When it’s cold outside we tend to spend more time indoors where it can be easier to catch an infection.
For example, coughs and sneezes in an enclosed space with little or no ventilation (windows closed, doors shut) can spread illnesses from person to person.
This year, with Covid restrictions lifted, many viruses and bacterial infections are circulating at higher rates again.
Practising good hygiene – using and then binning a tissue for coughs and sneezes and washing your hands – can help prevent the spread.
What should I be careful of when using plug-in heaters?
Beth Timmins, BBC News business reporter writes:
More of us are using portable heaters, but they can be a serious fire hazard if not used carefully.
Firefighters and safety managers from the charity Electrical Safety First say you should use your heater on a flat surface to ensure it won’t fall over.
It should be at least one metre away from anything flammable. Don’t have curtains, clothes, blankets, duvets or armchairs against it.
You should not use your heater to dry your washing, or leave it unattended for long periods of time, or overnight.
The experts also warn against plugging heaters into extension leads, as this could cause a fire.
It’s also a fire hazard to leave electric blankets on for too long.
Using gas heaters also carries the risk of carbon monoxide poisoning, so you should have a carbon monoxide alarm in the same room.
How can I keep my baby warm?
Babies and children under five are more at risk in cold weather.
The NHS advises that children should wear several layers of clothes to keep warm.
At night, it recommends using a number of lightweight blankets.
Importantly, babies do not need hot rooms at night – a room temperature of between 16-20C (61-68F) is ideal. Overheating is one of the potential causes of sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS).
Remember heads and hands during the winter, the NCT charity says. Keep your baby’s head warm when going outside, and use mittens or gloves.
In the car, for safety reasons you should keep thick jumpers and coats to a minimum, so there is not too much padding between your child and the car seat straps.
If necessary, you can lay a blanket on top of them once they are safely strapped in, the NCT advises.
How can I keep my pet safe in the cold?
Like humans, animals can be at risk of hypothermia if they become too cold, and may spend less time outside.
Veterinary charity PDSA advises giving dogs and cats extra blankets for their beds over the winter months. Raised beds can keep older dogs away from draughts, while cats may like high-up dens.
The charity also recommends extra playtime for pets to make sure they keep active. New indoor toys can help.
Giving cats indoor litter trays means they have less need to go outside. You should consider keeping them inside overnight.
A sudden drop in temperature can also have a big impact on outside pets, such as rabbits and guinea pigs. They should be given extra bedding for warmth, but the PDSA recommends moving them to a more sheltered space or even bringing them inside.
But you should make sure they have enough indoor space to exercise safely.
Can I walk my dog?
Dogs still need walks during cold weather. Usually, their fur will keep them warm.
But the RSPCA advises buying a winter coat or jumper for sick or elderly dogs, or those with thinner fur.
You should check your pet’s paws if they have been in snow and ice, as cold temperatures, grit and salt can make pads very sore, the PDSA says.
If you have to walk in the dark, make sure you and your dog can be seen with hi-vis leads, coats, and LED collars.
How can I dry clothes more cheaply?
Drying clothes on radiators is a common practice in the winter.
But it can mean turning on heating in parts of the home you are not using. You may also risk making your home damp, which can cause mould.
One option is to use a dehumidifier, which takes water out of the air. This can be done by running the machine for several hours next to clothes hanging on an airer.
Money saving expert Martin Lewis points out on his podcast that it costs about 7p an hour to run a 200-watt device, which generally is “far, far cheaper” than putting the heating on in a room.
You still have to buy a dehumidifier, but it could prove a good investment.
Why TikTok plant pot heaters are unsafe
Beth Timmins, BBC News business reporter writes:
TikTok has been full of tips for building cheap makeshift heaters from tealights and terracotta pots.
However, firefighters say they are dangerous and strongly warn people against the “money-saving hack”.
In one case, a fire broke out in a flat in Derby when one of the devices failed. It led to about 50 people being evacuated from their homes.
The local fire service says heat released from the base of the tea lights weakened the terracotta plates they were on.
This caused the homemade heater to collapse and the melted wax to ignite.
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