From time to time I write about protecting your self and family in cold weather assuming you are in a modern house and have all the conveniences. However, here in the mountains, it is colder and many people with children are living in old houses, or trailers that are poor protection from the expected bitter cold moving our way.
If your primary heat source, such as a wood stove is at one end of the house, the other end is cold. This is usually the bedroom. Wrong thinking to just snuggle up. Cold affects children and the elderly more so than the mid range adults ensconced in front of the wood stove.
Then again you might not have a wood stove with a clean stovepipe. A clogged stovepipe pushes carbon monoxide back through the stove and you die. The children and old Aunt Mary just freeze to death. This is a serious issue.
There is no reason that the children and elderly cannot be in the heated room. There are some cautions: first do not line up the beds feet to the wall, as heat goes to cold. Ankles have thin veins and cold impedes blood flow. Mattresses above the cold flooring actually do not insulate well, more cold is pulling the heat from the body. You do better placing the mattress on the floor. Old worn out sleeping bags, old blankets, horse blankets, and potato sacks, can insulate the prone body. Probably an excellent item is the “ HOT HANDS” And other similar chemical rub warmth works fine in a sleeping bag at the feet. I note that there are bigger package heaters in the hunters section of Wal*Mart. Peel the outer orange cover off and any inside layer exposing the bag full of crystals, rub vigorously and in a few minutes you have gentle heat.
Does anyone remember the country singer: Little Jimmy Dickens singing “ At the foot of the bed”? This was a lament, but he sung about bed-wetting and it is better at the foot of the bed than with a passel of kids in the middle.
For the outdoor person in the woods where you have to spend the night you can cut a lot of pine tips, build a fire of the ends that are thick on the ground and when the fire is out you will have a semblance of heat, or at least warmth. Place the tips up and make a thick mattress. You can also cover yourself in tips and leaves for protection.
Clean dry wool socks and long johns need be worn before bed, perhaps warmed by the stove or campfire. Socks are best worn double, wool on the outside and cotton underneath. Speaking of campfires I have spent many a night in bitter –20F cold and snow with a simple lean-to where the campfire is reflected into the shelter. If you are rich and have an electric clothes dryer-pre heat the night’s wear. Blankets too, as your perspiration, wet clothing, and bedding keep you cold.
Since I lean to the outdoors bear with me a bit. Sleeping bags have changed with time but bodies have not. Eider duck down was in my father’s day, or a four stripe wood trappers blanket. These are gone. What evolved was duck down sleeping bags. The problem with duck down is it is fading from the market because many souls cannot get warm in a feather bag. Enter now the Polyester fill bags, a bit bulky but do hold the heat better. Try Wal*Mart, or the http://www.sportsmansguide.com/
When buying winter blankets you want wool in a heavy weight. For the same price you can be sold a non-warm blanket made with (“fibers”?) Most good blankets come from Romania and Switzerland, and are at least 4 lbs. To fold a blanket properly is to lay one blanket out flat, the other blanket half way into the open blanket, then layer the other pieces across and get double heat retention. Fold the end up under the feet. Safety pin the blankets together if you have big enough pins. Big pins can be found at store laundries and maybe on line. They are about 5 inches in length.
When sleeping 30% of body heat is lost through your head. Wear a knit pull over cap. If you have a hoodie, pull that up too..
More on house heat: The electric radiator heater is the best on the market and in this area a kilowatt is 11.6 cents. They are cheap to run and will heat a room nicely. Small fan heaters usually do not last. Radiator heaters will last years. Kerosene heaters such as the radiant type that are directional heat are great. Up right heaters work well and you can place a teakettle on the top. Clear kerosene can be bought at Wall*Mart. On average with bitter cold you will use 2 gallons a day through the night.
In the old days people would, with non-insulated walls, use tapestries nailed to the wall to reduce the cold from pulling heat. Blankets do the same if you have spares. You can cover your windows to keep warmer by hanging a blanket over the glass behind the drapes. Also you can get lots of Styrofoam for windows.
Cook Soups and stews for the family. Crock-pots are the best convenience and fill hungry tummies. Kids eat first. I remember Mom had a cast iron pot on the wood stove always filled with fag ends of meats, vegetables, and such. Any one coming in had a portion to warm up.
Bring the dog inside for heat. Children love to snuggle up to dogs. My Great Pyrenees dog at 100 lbs heats my 20’ x 20’ bedroom up quickly, and no, he does not sleep in my bed.
These are a few thoughts for the coming blizzards as shown on the weather programs. Bundle up. Frostbite can take fingers and toes. Wear gloves.
Good warmth. God Bless,
COPYRIGHT: 12/31/14, all rights reserved. Mark Steel