Prepare

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“Ruben” the retriever is prepared

This post isn’t me complaining, it’s a couple tips on how we do it, and an awareness reminder.

We’re just creeping out of a week long cold spell. What do we call cold, -30 Celsius or more (-22 Fahrenheit).

The other morning we woke to -41 Celsius, add the wind chill and it felt like -51. No need for a conversion here because at -32 Celsius and Fahrenheit equal out.

Here in Alberta, Canada, we often get teased that these temperatures are common. That is untrue, but this kind of cold is also not unheard of. We do get at least 1 real cold spell a winter, and they can be worse than this one. They can last hours, but usually days or the odd time weeks. They can bring more snow or not. They can come quickly, or like this recent one, give us days of warning to prepare.

I feel bad and worry about people who have to be out in freezing temperatures, going to work, working in, doing chores, going to school, or whatever forces someone outdoors. But, if prepared and dressed appropriately it is doable.

Country living certainly meant more preparing and was more work than here at the lake, and retirement has made these cold or even blizzard days less worrisome for sure.

It seems, we often end up with doctor appointments or something though, this week there was 2 which had us on the highways in the frigate temperatures.

Winter road travel means preparation beyond the obvious vehicle maintenance which is so important.

As soon as our snow comes to stay we start traveling with warm gloves, hats, snow pants, boots, a blanket, and there’s a fold-up shovel which stays in the van. For those who take less traveled routes, a more extensive emergency kit is suggested. Heat sources like thermal blankets, candles, and nutritional snacks for example.

A downfall of living and experiencing this type of weather, year after year, is we can get careless and somewhat disrespectful of cold temperatures. All to often you here it said, I’m just running to the store quick, I don’t need my big winter gear.

This rare but true short story is a reminder of why we should be prepared. It happened to a girlfriend’s sons friend, so I didn’t stumble across it on the internet.

He was alone driving a not busy highway during a winter blizzard when a series of unexpected things changed his plans. His little white car left the road stopping far into the snow filled ditch. In its resting place it was unseeable by the rare passing traffic. He wasn’t injured, but he wasn’t out of trouble yet either. The seat belt release mechanism was somehow damaged trapping him in his seat. There was no knife or sharp object handy to cut the now binding nylon strap. Yes, he had a cell phone. It had been on the centre console and durning the jarring off-road ride it slid off landing out of reach on the passenger floor. It was hours and hours before he was found, and by then frostbite had set in to some extremities. Last I heard, he hadn’t lost any, but recovery was painful and not short.

What habits have I picked up since hearing about this unfortunate fellow.

  • I keep that bulky winter-coat on while in a vehicle, especially on bad roads.
  • The phone is either in my pocket or at least in a cup holder.
  • A multi tool with a knife is within reach.
  • Let someone know if you’re going to be on the road, especially in bad conditions and if traveling alone, and let them know when you arrive at your destination.

It’s better to prepare than be sorry.

Of course you can’t be overcome with worrying about the what if’s, or prepare for every scenario, but do think over some possible things that could go wrong wherever you might be and take precautions.

On a lighter note, here’s a few tips if you’re inexperienced and find yourself in some extreme cold weather.

  • If you think you have to pee and you’re going outside, pee. Cold air intensives this urge.
  • If you’re going out to say, shovel, and you can see without your metal frame glasses leave them inside. Metal draws in the cold.
  • Oh, and if someone tells you to stick your tongue on cold metal, it’s not a myth it will stick and stick good.

Our favourite vehicle option for cold days is a heated steering wheel. Lots of people enjoy heated seats, but I find they make me colder when I have to go back outside.

When winter comes I know what’s in-store, and I choose to live here. You’ll hear me say I love winter, but that doesn’t mean you won’t hear me mutter now and then when we’re in a cold spell.

So to anyone who has to contend with a cold weather season. Bundle up in layers, travel prepared, and just maybe you’ll be warm and safe.

Are you a warm weather person, or do you like the 4 seasons of change?

Curiosity Solved

experiment

For fairness, I brought equal amounts of water in identical plastic bottles, the cooler and insulated bag to room temperature. A necessary step because some came from our cold storage room. Wait, that sounds like we have a climate-controlled room, what I meant is I had to bring the hard-sided cooler in from its unheated storage room to warm up.

The afternoon temperature outside when I got this experiment underway was -20 C. Almost balmy for this nasty cold spell.

With a bottle of water inside, I placed the hard cooler, the cooler bag, and just a bottle of water, side by side so none were in sunshine and all would chill at the same rate.

Two hours later the temperature had dropped to -25 C outside. The exposed bottle’s water had froze solid but both in the coolers still hadn’t even crystalized yet so I let them be.

My next intention was to check the waters temperature from both cooler bottles to see if one was warmer then the other. I hadn’t planed ahead how I would do this though, so a search began for a thermometer.

Logical place to look first, the bathroom. Bought years ago and still in its package, I found a new digital style thermometer. I read the directions. Battery seemed good so into my mouth for a reading it went. Great news, I had no fever. Before I disturbed the experiment water I tried one more test with a cup of ice water. Umm, I found out it only reads if tip has contact, like under a tongue or in armpit, drats.

Perhaps a meat thermometer? Nope, don’t have one, it probably wouldn’t work in water, anyway. Now, I’m curious about that though.

On our fridge is a decorative magnet with a mercury temperature gage, so it got submerged in a cup of cold water. Keyword, decorative, the red line didn’t move. Funny, I’ve never noticed before that it didn’t work.

Mister joined the search. The only other portable thermometer inside the house is a weather station used to monitor the crawl space which houses our water pipes. This unit has a sensor on a wire, and it is old, almost the first of its kind.

We seldom check it anymore, and on inspection it’s no surprise to see it no longer displayed a reading. Mister took the back off and pushed reset, my job was to locate the tiny screw which dropped to the floor. Reset did nothing, he tested the batteries and changed those.

By this time supper in the oven was on the verge of becoming overlooked so we ate.

At 8:30pm, after 4 and 1/2 hours outside the water in the coolers had started to freeze. The insulated bag one only slightly more than the regular cooler. Not sure the accuracy but when tested the hard cooler water was .2 degrees warmer than cooler bag water.

Results were pretty predictable, but I was curious how much longer groceries would keep from freezing if insulated and if it mattered which we used, a hard or soft cooler.

In minus 20 degree temperatures water took an extra two and half hours to freeze if kept in a well insulated container.

With this knowledge, from now on, our lettuce should make it home safe.

Have you ever wondered how weather effects food delivered by big trucks? A lot more planning goes into this then you may think.

The son works in transportation for a large food distribution company so I asked him.

For transporting frozen and refrigerated goods reefer trailers are used. In extreme cold they can also heat the air so it is warmer inside then outside, keeping cargo at an ideal temperature.

They have 1-3 different temperature areas which can be divided by portable insulated walls. In extreme cold, produce and other sensitive goods, are sometimes wrapped to keep from freezing if they’re placed near doors.

Delicate things like ice cream cakes are put in insulated bags along with being in the freezer section just to make sure they don’t thaw.

Next time you buy groceries, you can now appreciate the work that goes into getting items to the store.

Did you learn anything from this post? I did.

 

Cold and Curious

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We’re in a bitter cold spell, and our way below normal, daytime highs are a problem on grocery day. Besides the obvious of Mister and I, and the vehicle, having less enthusiasm for venturing outside or off the yard.

It’s, how to get climate sensitive food home without issue.

Oh, and if you looked at the above picture and thought, can’t those old farts (smiley face) see the tire sensor light is on. Yes, we saw it, but not to worry we just don’t have winter air in the tires yet. If you don’t live in a climate like ours, that is a joke, because many vehicle tire sensors don’t read right when cold.

Back on topic, we live 20-40 minutes from any major city, so summer heat also causes problems. The drive home is long enough to melt ice cream, warm milk and even spoil meat if it’s sitting in direct sun. A simple fix is, coolers and ice packs on those days.

This weeks weather though, posed the opposite.

Since we had an appointment in the city, we filled our day with errands along with getting groceries. Sounds simple, but we like to shop different stores for certain things. So planning the order of stops is crucial for what you’ll risk freezing inside the vehicle while you continue your day. Sometimes, it’s near impossible to plan without driving back and forth across the city.

So I got thinking. Mister says that’s when I usually get into trouble. (smiley face)

How much protection from the cold, if any, would a insulated bag provide? 

Would it prevent lettuce or eggs from getting too cold while the vehicle is not running? 

Would an actual cooler work better than an insulated bag?

I’m not a science person, and yes, I could Google an question or ask the son or Mister, they probably know, but I’ve decided to do an old fashion home experiment. A high tech test on how long it takes for a bottle of water to freeze outside, compared to one in a insulate bag, and another in a cooler. Impressive concept and format, isn’t it? (smiley face)

Anybody care to take a guess if freezing time will vary enough to make a difference? 

I’ll post the results.