If you're in one of the many states being hit hard with seriously cold weather, the polar vortex, basically an arctic hurricane, is planning on whipping around until the end of the week. This means all the essentials you have stored in your garage or unfinished basement might be at risk. Here's what to worry about and what can be left alone in the frosty cold.
Most latex paints are composed of a mixture of ingredients that separate and expand at extremely cold temperatures, which also might freeze. It's not a big deal, but paint that's been exposed to chilly temps can result in less-than-wonderful performance. If you recently purchased paint for redecorating your home, then it might be a good idea to grab the cans from the garage and stack them in a closet indoors. Otherwise, once the paint has returned to room temperature, vigorously stir the paint before use. If the paint doesn't pull together, or if there are lumps, it's a good idea to ditch that can.
That case of beer or stash of your favorite soda out in the garage is in danger of bursting. The freezing point for water is 32 degrees Fahrenheit, but beer and soda contain sugar, which lowers the freezing point to around 15 or 20 degrees. With temperatures dipping to serious extremes, bringing your carbonated beverages indoors will save them — and your garage — from turning into a big mess. Additionally, glass bottles filled with contained liquids (carbonated or not) are at risk of exploding and should be brought indoors too.
Most canned goods can withstand extremely cold temperatures but may expand if frozen, causing bulges in the cans or breaks in seals. Once the polar vortex has moved along, check cans, and discard any that are leaking or have cracked. Otherwise, once-frozen canned goods are safe to eat.
Vegetable, olive, and even car oils will freeze in seriously cold temperatures, but most are just fine to use once they're at room temperature again. If olive or vegetable oils have separated or congealed into clumps after being frozen, then it's a good idea to discard them.
Your stash of shampoo and conditioner are safe to leave out in the garage but will freeze at around 40 degrees Celsius. Once at room temperature, they will still leave your locks looking lovely again.
If you have water pipes that run outdoors, it's a good idea to add some layers to protect your pipes from bursting. Insulate with old blankets, and check for cracks or small holes in walls and your foundation, such as cable lines, where cold air may be flowing against pipes. If you live in an older home and are really concerned about internal pipes, then keep cabinets open to allow warm air to circulate. And letting your faucets drip, which keeps a small amount of water flowing, lessens the chance of bursting pipes. Even a superslow drip creates enough pressure to keep pipes from freezing.
Because most cleaning supplies are composed of water, they will freeze in cold temperatures. But there's no need to bring in your dish soaps, cleaners, or bleach. They'll all keep their cleaning power once back to room temperature.
Spray paints, aerosol spray cleaners, or air fresheners may freeze but are just fine once returned to room temperature. And there's no risk of these cans exploding when exposed to extreme temps. Instead, aerosol cans are at risk of implosion at temperatures in excess of -150 degrees Fahrenheit, which is a bit chillier than expected with this polar vortex.