Cold weather preparation is the key to surviving the long winter months. The recent polar vortex that’s making its way across the U.S., is shutting down cities and leaving people home-ridden.

This week’s forecast has the Midwest experiencing the worst of it. CNN reported that 220 million (75%) people in the continental US are expected to endure the vortex. Temperatures and wind chill factors are dangerously low, as an arctic blast is paralyzing cities like Chicago, Illinois (– 10), Norris Camp, Minnesota (-48) and Lisbon, North Dakota (-46), and breaking winter records across the board.

Even if you’re not directly in the “Frost Belt,” being prepared for cold weather and snow emergencies is essential. Below are our top 8 winter tips for preparation. You may not be able to prevent the cold, but you can be ready for when it hits.

Wrap windows and use door stoppers

Keep your home insulated. Covering the inside of windows with an insulating “plastic” window film, can retain up to 55% of the home’s heat in winter. Utilizing a door draft stopper will keep those small drafts from seeping into the house.

Wrap pipes and water heaters

In order to prevent frozen pipes, wrapping them with insulation and foam tape will prevent cold air from attacking. Open the kitchen cabinets and allow the faucet to slowly drip. The water will help prevent any ice from developing. It’s wise to wrap the water heater in an insulated jacket. It will not only keep it from losing heat, but also help save money on the heating bill.

Freshen up the smoke and carbon monoxide detectors

During the winter, we run our home heating systems for hours. The chances of carbon monoxide poisoning increase. stated, “An estimated 430 people die in the U.S. each year from accidental carbon monoxide positioning, and approximately 50,000 people visit the emergency room.” It’s important to make sure that both the fire and carbon monoxide detectors are functioning properly and have fresh batteries.

Store a winter survival kit in the trunk of your car

When the temperature drops and you’re on the road, it’s important to be prepared. The Minnesota Department of Public Safety recommends including: flashlight and extra batteries, small candles and matches, utility knife, red bandanna or cloth, pencil and paper, safety pins, blanket, whistle and non-perishable snacks. The goal is for the kit to fit in the trunk of your car. In some cases, the kit can fit in a gym bag, or large coffee can.

Keep your drive and walkways clear

It’s not fun to getting up early and breaking out snow blower and shovel, but this will benefit you in the long run. Afterwards, apply a de-icer, such as Ice Melt, to the driveway and sidewalk. Road salt and cat litter can be used as an alternative. Similar to the de and anti-icers, the road salt melts the ice, while the cat litter ads traction for walking and driving. Be mindful of pets, as the salt burns and inflames dogs’ feet.

Clear the chimney

There’s nothing better than sitting around a warm fire on a cold winter night. It’s best to have a chimney cleaner inspect your fireplace first. They will ensure that there are no cracks and loose joints inside of the fireplace, exterior damage, and free of debris and “furry visitors”.

Keep the gas meter clean and dry

Keep the vent on the gas meter clear of snow and ice. During the day, the vent can become plugged and refreeze at night. This can result in preventing the meter from reading accurately and functioning improperly, as well as, natural gas build ups. Xcel Energy has a list of tips for maintaining the gas meter throughout the winter months.

Stock up on blankets and warm weather accessories

Wearing layers is the key to staying warm all winter long. While running the heat helps, at times it’s not enough. Keep extra blankets, hats, gloves and boots in the house; especially if there is an outage due to snow storms or iced power lines.