Joan Beyeler, a crossing guard at the corner of Center and Linden streets near the Mary Snow School in Bangor, prepares for extreme cold in January 2014. Credit: Gabor Degre / BDN

As the state heads into what will likely be record-breaking cold weather later this week, Mainers are being warned to have plans in place to deal with what could be once in a decade conditions.

An arctic front moving into the state on Friday will bring plunging temperatures and winds and create life threatening conditions for 48 hours, according to the National Weather Service.

Wind chills are forecast to range from 67 degrees below zero in the far north to 46 degrees below zero in Bangor.

Here are some crucial steps you should take ahead of the upcoming cold front.

Stay indoors as much as possible

The most basic step to prepare for these conditions is to avoid being outside longer than necessary. If you have to be outside, dress in layered clothing, gloves, hats and good boots or shoes.

Not doing so in sub-freezing conditions can lead to hypothermia and frostbite, according to Nirav Shah, director of the Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention.

If you must go out, prepare your car

In case you have to go somewhere, you don’t want to get in your vehicle to find out it won’t start. If you can, park your vehicle out of the wind. If it has an engine block heater, plug it in to increase the odds of it starting during frigid weather.

To give anything with a motor the best chance to run, make sure the batteries are strong enough to turn over. Every battery has an expiration date. if it’s passed, now’s the time to replace it with a new one.

Fill up gas and diesel tanks and take a moment to pour in a winter fuel additive available from gas stations and auto parts stores. This is especially important for anything that uses diesel fuel. Without an additive, diesel turns into a jelly-like substance in cold temperatures and is rendered useless.

Make sure you have an emergency kit inside your car in case you get stranded. It should contain blankets or a winter sleeping bag, a first aid kit, food, water, emergency flares, portable radio, flashlight, extra batteries and jumper cables.

Double check your heat source

Hypothermia — which happens when your body loses heat faster than it can produce — can occur indoors if a home’s heating system can’t maintain temperatures above 40 degrees Fahrenheit for an extended period of time.

Even with heating systems operating correctly, it’s going to be a struggle to maintain comfortable temperatures indoors this weekend, especially when the winds pick up.

For furnaces controlled by thermostats, raise the temperatures 2 to 4 degrees above the normal setting to counteract the cold. If your furnace is on a timer set to for cooler temperatures during the night, turn it off so it operates at a constant daytime temperature. If you let your living space cool down overnight this weekend, your furnace may not be able to warm it back up until the windchill conditions move out.

It’s also a good idea to check and, if needed, replace any filters in your heating system.

Doing any baking, stove-top cooking or running your clothes dryer can also help warm things up inside.

All of this will also help prevent your water pipes from freezing.

Be ready for the power to go out

In case the power goes out, make sure you have extra blankets, batteries, flashlights and warm clothing ready. If you’re using a generator, check ahead of time that it has fuel and never operate it inside or near windows. Keep your cellphone and any other devices charged up.

Bring your pets inside

Whether that means setting up a spot inside your garage or snuggling with them on your couch, pets need an insulated place out of the wind to survive the coming cold weather. Limit their outdoor time to the bare minimum it takes for them to relieve themselves.

Protect your livestock

Any livestock and poultry also need enclosed spaces to ride out the arctic chill. Like people, these animals and birds are also susceptible to frostbite and hypothermia. Extra bedding, extra food and a steady supply of warm water will help them stay warm.

Check on others

In addition to preparing your own home, make sure to check on neighbors who may need a hand to stay warm, especially older neighbors and those with health issues.

If you or someone you know is unable to keep warm and safe during the upcoming intense cold, there are warming and charging centers opening around the state. You can also dial 211 to find the closest warming center.

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Julia Bayly

Julia Bayly is a reporter at the Bangor Daily News with a regular bi-weekly column. Julia has been a freelance travel writer/photographer since 2000.