Shout out to everyone who said they “couldn’t wait for winter” during the summer last year — you’re about to get what you asked for.
We thought we were done with unbearable temperatures after a polar vortex swept through the U.S. a few weeks ago, making temperatures dip down to single (and in some places, negative) digits. Unfortunately, we’re not in the clear just yet. Actually, it’s about to be worse: The end of January through the beginning of February are expected to be the coldest stretch of the year for much of the country.
Yup, despite the fact that 2018 was one of the hottest years on record, many parts of the U.S. are about to be hit with another second cold snap and some numbingly cold temps thanks to a miles-high mass of rotating Arctic air pushing our way. No thanks, you can keep it.
You don’t have to know the exact science behind a polar vortex to know that it sounds absolutely hellish — this time bringing record-breaking temperatures as low as -45 degrees Fahrenheit over much of the midwest. At these cold temperatures, frostbite and hypothermia are a real danger. (Find a coat drive near you here and check out how to build an insulated shelter for feral fur babies here.)
Luckily, there are numerous ways to prep for everyday chills and emergencies from space heaters to generators to high tech clothes with heat-producing fabric. You know, stuff to get when booking a last-minute flight to Miami isn’t an option.
Here’s how to combat the cold:
Step 1: Get a space heater
When your office is even colder than usual, your landlord refuses to turn up the heat, or you can see your breath in the car, these are the quick-buy heaters you need to stay toasty in a pinch.
Lifesmart Large Room Infrared Quartz Fireplace — No fireplace? No problem. Get cozy with this makeshift portable fireplace that offers the realistic look and glow a real fireplace, heating spaces up to 1,000 square feet. Get it at Amazon for $139.23 (list price $299).
Dyson Pure Hot + Cool Link Wi-Fi Enabled Air Purifier — A powerful heater in winter and easy breezy portable AC in summer, Dyson’s best-selling fan doubles as an air purifier and works with Alexa. Get it at Amazon for $499.99.
Duraflame Electric Infrared Quartz Fireplace Stove — About as homey as you can get, this antique-style stove fireplace offers a 3D flame effect and can heat spaces up to 1,000 square feet. Get it at Amazon for $151.99 (list price $299.99).
Comfort Zone Mini Electric Fireplace Space Heater — For tiny apartments, bedrooms, or offices, this mini space heater offers the comforting look of a fireplace while still being able to fit in a corner or under a desk. Get it at Walmart for $35 (list price $46.99).
AmazonBasics 1500 Watt Space Heater with Adjustable Thermostat — If you’re just looking for a quick, cheap purchase, the AmazonBasics oscillating heater actually has great reviews and offers powerful heat for the price. Get it at Amazon for $22.99 (list price $29.99).
— Cars take forever to heat up. This car fan plugs into the cigarette outlet and offers immediate heat for winter and AC for summer. Get it at Amazon for $22.99.
Step 2: Invest in a portable generator
Myth: Electricity won’t be affected as long as there’s no snow storm or hurricane.
Fact: Electrical grids aren’t immune to the cold even if there’s no snow, and a lot of electrical systems in the U.S. are old and not equipped to work efficiently in extreme temperatures. The upcoming polar vortex is about to be more frigid than usual, and scientists are calling for possible life-threatening temperatures in the midwest and northeast.
And with so many people upping their wattage to heat homes, even the largest electricity providers could face outages. You can prepare for the worst by grabbing a portable generator. They can get pricey, but they’re just a good thing to have — and you’ll be thankful for that purchase if there’s an emergency.
Champion 3500-Watt RV Ready Portable Generator — The ultimate combo of price and reliable full-home backup, this generator is packed with user-friendly features and has Cold Start Technology that ensures automatic turn-on in cold weather. A little over three gallons of gasoline can get you nine hours of power and backup for large appliances, lights, and furnaces. Get it at Amazon for $498.99.
Briggs & Stratton 30663 8750 Starting Watts Portable Generator — One of the most powerful on the market, this generator is said to create 25% more surge wattage to run large appliances and tools at the same time for up to nine hours. Get it at Amazon for $859 (list price $1,099.99).
WEN 1800-Watt Portable Generator — This one gallon generator from WEN can power multiple home essentials at once like space heaters, refrigerators, and microwaves for up to 7.5 hours. It’s not ideal for furnaces or stoves, but if you’re on a budget, it can keep the basics on. Get it at Amazon for $169.93.
Generac 5735 26250 Starting Watts Electric Start Generator — For places with high electric requirements like apartment complexes or office buildings, Generac claims that this bad boy is worth the splurge by being the most powerful you can get online. This automatic standby generator is ready to go as soon as it senses an outage and can power 16 circuits or five air conditioners at once. Get it at Amazon for $2,849.96 (list price $2,999.99).
Step 3: Load up on these life-changing accessories
With a windchill this intense, your average gloves, socks, and hats just aren’t gonna do it — and that’s where thermal lining, heated accessories, and rechargeable inserts come in.
EnergyFlux Electric 5200 mAh USB Hand Warmer with rechargeable battery — Get the feeling of putting your hands up to a fire with a rechargeable hand warmer. This heavenly little device offers double sided heat for up to five hours on one charge and has a built-in flashlight for emergencies. Get it on Amazon for $20.99.
OZERO Touch Screen Windproof Thermal Gloves — Keep the wind and numb fingers at bay with these well-reviewed windproof gloves from Ozero, featuring touchscreen fingertips to text freely without taking them off. Get them on Amazon for $16.99.
The North Face Denali Thermal E-tip Gloves — Stay warm, connected, and stylish with these thermal high-fleece gloves from The North Face with e-tip fingertips to use your devices freely. Get them at Nordstrom for $30.
Savior Heated Gloves with rechargeable lithium-ion battery — Ideal for outdoor sports like skiing, biking, or running, battery powered gloves are a 21st century must-have. Use the three temperature settings to keep your mitts toasty for up to six hours on one charge, featuring breathable material that won’t get you sweaty. Get them at Amazon for $139.
Alritz Heated Waterproof Insulated Gloves with rechargeable battery — If you’re keeping warm on a budget, these rechargeable gloves are a great under $50 alternative. They’re not as cute, but with three temperature settings and up to eight hours of warmth, they’re a steal. Get them at Amazon for $49.90.
Thermogear Rechargeable Heated Scarf — Scarves may be old news, but electric scarves aren’t. This fleece one heats up in seconds and will keep your neck toasty for up to three hours even in the nastiest winds. It’s like an electric blanket, but for your neck. Get it on Amazon for $24.99.
Gamegie Rechargeable Heated Insole Socks — Not being able to feel your piggies is the worst, but these well-reviewed rechargeable socks with heated insoles are here to save the day. Even if you’re trekking through snow, the three heat settings will make sure to keep the feeling in your feet for up to 17 hours. Get them on Amazon for $36.88.
Columbia Sportswear Thermorator Hat — This isn’t just any hat. Columbia’s iconic Thermarator Line uses Omni-Heat thermal reflective technology to keeps heat in, plus fleece construction for a snug not-gonna-fall-off fit. Get it on Amazon for $19.99.
Self Pro Balaclava Windproof Ski Mask — Any exposed skin is at risk of frostbite during extreme cold, so stay bundled with a windproof balaclava. Made out of fleece, this heavy duty mask is beloved by construction workers, motorcyclists, and skiers alike, so you should be fine walking from your house to your car. Get it on Amazon for $17.95.
PAVILIA Fleece Sleeved Blanket — Looking to stay home during the polar vortex? Kick your blanket collection up a notch with one that you can wear. This ridiculous (in a good way) throw combines a sherpa blanket and an oversized coat, complete with pockets. You know you’ve always wanted one. Get it on Amazon for $23.99.
Step 4: Cold-weather clothing is a must
You could just stay inside. But since this cold snap isn’t predicted to bring much precipitation, a snow day isn’t likely — meaning stocking up on cold weather gear like coats and boots to brave the outside world is a must.
Find your winter armor at Macy’s, Nordstrom, and Walmart with tons of styles on sale and free shipping on most items at Nordstrom and Walmart. We’ve picked out a few of our favorites to save you some time:
Coats for women
Coats for men
Boots for women
Coats and boots for men
Step 5: Layer on the long underwear
For extra protection, Uniqlo’s HEATTECH line offers a new way to layer that won’t have you looking like the Michelin Man. The clothes feature fabric that creates heat pockets from the moisture evaporating from the body and is available in multiple levels of warmth in the form of leggings, sweaters, dress pants, and more. It’s like long underwear, but stylish.
Good luck out there.