12 January 2009

Monday Musings...
We're still caught in the throes of Old Man Winter, and he must be clocking some pretty serious O/T, by the looks of our forecasts.
The whole week might very well see us not getting all that much ABOVE freezing.
It's colder than a witch's tit in a brass brassiere, as we used to say.
So "if" you've been feeling like somehow you've signed on for the SHACKELTON EXPEDITION, or have been drafted as Peter Finch's Stunt double for the 1971 movie THE RED TENT...you're not alone!
I'm talking near or sub-zero temps for the overnights, and that's the kind of cold you DON'T want to be screwing around with.
It's the type of cold that makes the utility company that provides your warmth SMILE, due to YOUR usage.
It's the type of cold that makes tomato soup and grilled cheese sandwiches sound REAL inviting for dinner!
It's the type of cold that will makes your vehicle act in ways that are simply NOT normal.
It's the type of cold that has auto repair shops and towing services doing a Pavlovian drool.
And it's the type of cold that will do more than put "roses on your cheeks" if you're out in it a bit too long.
Yet, I will most likely see people (and I use the word loosely, as there is no proper categorizing these upright-walking creatures) that will STILL be out with improper clothing and footwear. SO WHAT if you're not wearing your latest flashy pair of Air Jordans?
Looks like it's back to the old cold weather survival training manual for some helpful hints.
If there's ONE THING you NEED to know in weather like this, it's that WARM, DRY FEET ARE HAPPY FEET.
And your feet LOVE being happy.
You will do anything to keep them feeling that way, because if it weren't for THEM, you'd not be gettin' around all that much now, would you?
There is nothing worse than being out in the cold with soggy, frosty tootsies, with the possible exception of having hot, sweaty feet in the frigging jungle. Either way, your feet ain't gonna like it one bit. And they will "let you know" in no certain terms.
With winds picking up speed over the next couple days, it's only going to ADD to the problems.
Now I don't know about YOU, but I really hate it when the wind (as a black buddy of mine used to say ages ago) BLOWS THROUGH YOU.
THAT, my friends, is F$CKIN' COLD (to use the French vernacular)!
It gets to a point where nasal breathing becomes something to avoid like the plague, so you take to mouth breathing (as long as you have covering for your mouth, like a scarf or a balaclava).
Having unprotected eyes is just as bad. Better to snag yourselves a pair of ski goggles to keep that frigid wind away from your eyes.
And for God's sake...cover your EARS. It should be enough of a clue that when they turn bright RED and sting like hell, that you're looking at the very first stages of frostbite.
Ditto for your hands. Get some gloves on them ASAP.
The human body WILL attempt to protect it's "core", namely the torso, by shutting off blood flow to it's extremities, so unless you prefer trips to the Emergency Ward or gangrene (yes, that CAN happen in weather like this), take the time to bundle up.
What you want to strive for is a balance between warmth and comfortability, and that means not be SO layered that you perspire. That's JUST AS BAD as not covering up, because the body wants to shed that moisture and body heat. The last thing you want in cold weather is to LOOSE body heat, and we already hit the moisture thing. If you're shovelling and you start to sweat, take a few minutes to go inside or check the layers of clothing and lose the innermost layer.
Give your vehicle adequate time to warm up.
There's nothing WORSE than having to drive in bad weather AND freezing your ass off while doing it (faulty heaters aside).
Check the level of antifreeze, and (if you're good at this sort of thing), you can do your OWN temperature check from the radiator with something called an OSMOMETER (look it up and become enlightened).
If the mixture of water and antifreeze is leaning too much to the WATER side, you'll find out soon enough, when you uncap the radiator and see what looks like a GREEN SLURPY inside. Under NO circumstances try to start the vehicle. That will wreck the water pump impeller causing fluid leaks (and eventual boil over due to lack of coolant). Not a good thing to happen in COLD weather.
Cooling systems HATE slush and LOVE liquid...simple, huh?
Prep yourselves and kit up with some basic stuff for the trunk/hatch area of your vehicles.
--Flares (in case of breakdown) - NOT for birthdays or keeping warm
--Blanket (in case you're stranded). An old quilt or sweater can work too.
--Small shovel (entrenching or *E* tool) to dig out if you're stuck.
--Granola or powerbars. Sounds weird, but while waiting for "the hook", you might want to keep YOUR "furnace" full and running, even if the car's not. Bottled water is good, but ONLY if it's not frozen (keep in passenger area or on your person).
--Something to tie onto the antenna mast (if you DO become disabled) as a visual sign to troopers that you need assistance.
--Keep the cellphone handy (and charged), or a CB rig (if you still have yours).
With today's tech, there is NO reason NOT to be able to contact someone.
Some other things to consider is (if you're still lucky to have a REAR-WHEEL DRIVE vehicle...) WEIGHT for those rear wheels. Sandbags work, as does having a FULL TANK of gas. Having a front-wheel drive vehicle has it's own issues, but most of you already know that...lol.
--Lastly, anyone who labors under the misconception that when you're COLD you need some type of ALCOHOL in the system to "warm you back up" is fooling themselves, and when it gets REAL cold...such foolishness can be FATAL. Alcohol makes you "think" you're warm, when in fact it opens all the capillaries to your extremities back up, and that takes AWAY needed heat from your body's core (remember that torso you've been lugging around?), so when the core temps drop enough, you want to nod out, and doing that is NOT something I prefer to do in freezing weather.
After you get inside and are warming back up...THEN have a snort or two. Not before.
I want to stay awake...stay busy...
...and stay alive.
And so should you.
Be careful out there, wherever you go, and that applies to EVERYONE!


Bob G. said...

As an afterthought, I found it higly amusing that the 11PM news spoke about nearly EVERYTHING I mentioned in regards to safely dealing with this weather...
Hmm, maybe the local NEWS channels are parking THEIR eyes HERE?

I can't be THAT fortunate.


Gloria said...

Today, one of my co-workers refused to go out in this weather because one of our delivery trucks (one of two that was functioning) stalled out twice, once on the way to the shop to pick up the other truck, once on the way back. I got the job of calling the customers to tell them we wouldn’t come out today. They were okay with it for the most part, but one customer asked if our trucks would be running this afternoon, as the person who was doing a job for them would be out and this place wanted the materials he was planning to use. The answer was “no.” Funny how we are told to be careful due to the weather, but how people really don’t care about what the delivery people have to go through and the crap they have to put up with. People want their stuff. So I try to dress for the weather and snag those toe/hand warmer things. Just in case.

Bob G. said...

Been in situations where having to GET somewhere regardless was "job one", and it's NO picnic, I can tell you.
While "you" might be gung-ho in getting from *A* to *B*, the VEHICLE might have other ideas...!

And the LAST thing ANYONE wants to be in weather like THAT...is STUCK!

Thanks for stopping by.