How to stay safe in record low temperatures

Published: Dec. 22, 2022 at 5:12 PM EST

(CNN) – More than 100 million people across the U.S. are under winter weather and wind chill alerts as a major, potential “once in a generation-type,” event sweeps across the country, bringing record low temperatures.

The weather outside is frightful, and will be getting even worse over the next few days.

It’s imperative that you are prepared to battle the cold.

With the National Weather Service warning of life-threatening wind chills in some parts of the country, the number one thing you can do to stay safe is to stay inside.

Kelly Serr, a warning coordination meteorologist with the weather service, said frostbite can happen faster than you might think in negative temperatures.

“We really tell people to limit their exposure outside,” she said. “The air temperature combined with the strong winds really create these hazardous conditions to humans. Then, it’s just a matter of minutes. It’s a matter of minutes. Five to 10 minutes and your skin can start freezing.”

Serr also said to avoid getting on the roads unless you have to.

“Make sure you have an emergency kit in your vehicle, and that emergency kit is going to keep things that are going to keep you warm in the event that you do get stranded or vehicle stalls,” she said. “You want to make sure you have the hat, the mittens, the gloves, your warm winter coat, blankets, some extra food, make sure your cell phone is with you, an extra battery, extra battery charger for your cell phone so that you can call for help when you need.”

Precautions should be taken when indoors too.

People are advised to dress in warm clothing, keep pets inside, and let your water taps drip slightly to prevent freezing pipes.

If the power goes out, make sure not to leave any lit candles unattended, and never use generators, grills, or camp stoves indoors or near windows.