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It’s A Dry Cold

January 4, 2018
by Dan Voigt , Emmetsburg News

To those snowbirds who always preface their conversations with the words, "Oh, it's a dry heat." I respond through chattering teeth. "Well, this is a dry cold."

Normally, I wouldn't write about the weather, because, and I?think we'll all agree, there isn't a single thing that any of us can do about it, short of moving down south and adding to the overpopulation of the southwestern states.

Of course, the other option is to become a hermit, staying inside your home all winter long, not venturing out, ala the late Mr. Howard Hughes. Of course, he played that hermit card in Las Vegas in his penthouse at a hotel, so that really shouldn't count.

If you're like me, the last 10 days have been somewhat of an exercise in existence at times. As one would venture outside, you hear the dire warnings of the weather forecasters - "The wind chills are at dangerous levels, folks, Bare skin can freeze in 5-10 minutes."

OK, let's think about that for a minute. First off, if I'm going outside in conditions like that, I'm not going out in my birthday suit. Truth be known, my thermal underwear has been my best friend over the past few days - even if it means a quick turn at laundry every other day to wash both sets.

But, I still see people who seem to be completely oblivious to just what such cold temperatures can do to a person. A prime example - It is very common on a day when the thermometer reads zero or below to see a few kids get out of their cars at the high school and saunter into the building wearing a jacket and a pair of shorts with flip flops.

Every time I?see such a scene, I?shake my head and wonder seriously if there's thought of ever being stranded, or a vehicle breaking down and Mr. Tropical Dresser being suck in an ice-cold car for a period of time.

I can recall a snowstorm not that long ago where a driver left work with just a light jacket, and their vehicle went into a ditch and became stuck. The car quickly ran out of gas - no heat. Visibility was zero, and the driver was frantically calling for help. A sheriff's deputy and a Secondary Road Department employee ventured out not once, but twice in the teeth of the storm, finally reaching the stalled vehicle around two hours after the first call for help. The driver was understandably cold, but did not suffer serious injuries or major frostbite, but that was only due to the perseverance and desire of the two rescuers to help another in a time of distress.

But let's look at that episode. It occurred in the middle of the winter, when everyone should know that weather and road conditions can change in mere minutes. Even though the driver had gone to work when it was 20 degrees out, the temperature dropped 20 degrees and a 25 mile and hour wind picked up, blowing freshly-fallen snow into a ground blizzard.

That fact, coupled with the driver's lack of personal preparation, such as keeping at least a half-tank of fuel in their vehicle, along with a winter survival kit of some sort, plus not being adequately dressed for the conditions, all combined to make for a hazardous situation at best. But, in this case, tragedy was averted.

For everyone who ventures out in our arctic-like conditions, think about preparing some type of winter survival kit for your vehicle. A blanket is a must. Other items recommended are a candle and matches, perhaps non-perishable snacks, such as granola bars, and a coffee can that could be used to melt snow for water, if necessary. Keeping a fuel take half-full is common sense in cold weather, and most importantly, if making a trip in questionable weather, let someone know what route you will travel, and let them know when you arrive.

A little basic preparation and common sense go a long way in avoiding frostbite or frozen flesh - for anyone.



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