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Thursday, February 11, 2010

How To Hunker Down When It's Cold

I am still in the middle of a massive writing blitz so I will continue with two posts a week for a while. The good news is, I am finding some very good words in between the dribble. And I am writing rather quickly too. A rarity for me.

On Friday, at o'dark thirty, I'll be having a little knee surgery. It's arthroscopic and basically all he's doing is snipping away any torn cartilage and flushing away debris around the joint. With any luck, it should help me out a little.

For today, given the blizzards the poor north is facing, I decided to write about hunkering down for frigid weather.

If you live in the north, you know the drill. Stock up on pantry supplies, veggies, fruits and dairy. But it pays to prepare for lengthy cabin stays or something worse, like a power outage.

I don't like to suffer. Call me a wuss, but if I am stuck indoors, I don't want to feel deprived. This is especially important if you are prone to depression. You don't want to face hardship when you're already battling the blues.

This is why I always stock up on goodies. I splurge on good chocolate, alcohol, and new (to me) DVDs. Stock up on things that make you feel good.

I also make sure my house is very clean and tidy. In case of trouble, I don't want to be looking for my flashlight through a pile of laundry. A clean house also makes you feel more in control. Crazy, but true.

As an aside, I find I write more fluidly when my house is clean too. If I've got things covered it makes me feel confident that I can tackle anything else that comes down the pipe. There are no pesky brain worms reminding me the fridge needs cleaning, or the shelves need dusting.

Power Outage: If you lose power for a few hours, no biggie. Don't open your refrigerator or freezer and shut off all the lights and other electronic gadgets. You don't want to risk a surge when your power comes back.

When it's a prolonged outage, you need to move quickly unless you're willing to lose all the food in your fridge and freezer.

The longest we've ever been without power was 21 days during Hurricane Rita. Let me tell you, if you want to know what hardship and isolation feels like, turn off your power for three weeks in the middle of a sweltering heat--or numbing cold. You'll learn very quickly just how tough you are--or aren't.

Kids and Dogs: Keep them occupied. Giving them tasks and games and chewies help a lot. Idle hands (and paws) make for grumpy spawn.

Elderly and Handicapped: Check on your elderly and handicapped neighbors and family. They might not ask you for help, so make sure they're okay.

Light: Check your batteries and have a lantern for each person in the house. I keep candles for desperate emergencies only. It's important not to create undue fire risks.

Fire Hyrants: Speaking of fire danger, if you live in the city, do yourself and your neighbors a favor and keep your closest fire hydrant from getting buried in the snow. In case of fire, you don't want firefighters trying to figure out where the hydrant is under several feet of snow.

Heat: A fireplace is wonderful if the electricity goes out. But oil and electric heaters are cleaner, more efficient, and less expensive (unless you have a woodlot available for your hearth). When feasible, have multiple sources of heat. Also close off rooms so you only have to heat the most important ones.

Food: Casseroles and stick-to-your-ribs food is psychologically beneficial. I like to prepare a few things ahead of time--just in case we lose power.

Travel: Avoid going out if possible. Use public transportation if it's available.

Communication: Let people know where you are. And keep those cell phones charged. By the way, the next time you see one of those old rotary phones at a garage sale for a dollar, buy it. They work even when the power is out.

Attitude: Weather forecasting being what it is, you know when you're going to get socked. Get your mental focus on and plan accordingly.

Stay warm, eat well and make sure everyone has something to keep them busy.

Good luck, Northerners. Hope it warms up soon for you guys.

Off to make some chili and cornbread.

PS The photo I posted above is just stock art. Stop over at Dru's blog and see some really good snow pictures.


Dru said...

These are all good advice and I would fail miserably well except for having batteries.

What's sad is that most of the electronics "toys" have rechargeable batteries and if you have no electricity - you can't use them; iPod, netbook, e-reader,etc.

Kaz Augustin said...

You know that I'm so happy to hear about your writing blitz. And I hope to hear more about your writing blitz as well, if you know what I mean. ;)

We have the occasional outage but with the kind of weather where you can sleep out in the open with no problems, except for hungry mosquitoes at dusk and dawn, we don't face the kind of problems North America is facing right now. Hope everyone's taking care of themselves. Good advice, M!

Marianne Arkins said...

When we lost power during the ice storm last year... it was only for four days -- the longest four days of my life! LOL...

What I missed most? Having a toilet to use. Our well pump is powered with electricity, so we had to haul water by the bucketload from the creek out back (about 100 yards from the house) on ice-slicked ground.

I decided I'd rather lose power in the winter than the summer, though -- we had an instant refrigerator outside. Our neighbors complained about losing the food in their fridge, and I asked them why they didn't just put it outside.

They didn't think of it.


Anyway, good advice, all, though we do use candles for light for the most part.

Hope the knee surgery helps you!

Maria Zannini said...

Dru: Check out a small solar panel, some can be converted to accept different plugs via a car charger.

Maria Zannini said...

Kaz: During Hurricane Rita, mosquitoes were the bane of our existence. That was probably the hardest thing to endure when we lost power.

Maria Zannini said...

Ref: Having a toilet to use. Our well pump is powered with electricity,

Oh no! That would do me in. I can go without food, water, power and heat--but don't take away my toilet. That's inhuman. LOL!

Shelley Munro said...

That's an excellent list, but man, I'm glad I don't have to go through the extremes of weather you guys get.

Maria Zannini said...

Well, that's the nice thing about the states. You have a choice of nearly every climate.

Much as I loved some of the northern areas, it's one reason we prefer to stay south. We get cold weather, but it's brief.

--though as I say that I find we are in the midst of freak snow. It's beautiful, but it can go now. LOL.

Jennifer Shirk said...

Great list!
Hope your knee surgery goes well.

Maria Zannini said...

Thanks, Jen!