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How low can it go?

January 2, 2014 - Michael Palmer
Temperatures are forecast to dip to 20 below zero early next week. It was 1994 when I recall a -22 morning where despite having a light nestled beside my oil pan my GMC pick up would crank but not start. I finally got a bigger heater on the job and with the assistance of some ether sprayed into the carburetor I was off to work.

At the time I was working construction and it was brutal outside. We were required to work 10 minutes out and then come back in for 50 minutes to thaw. As I recall that worked out just about right.

One of my favorite news items over the holidays was about the ice breaking vessel chock full of scientists that became stranded in thick ice off Antarctica. The one omission in the stories about the Russian expedition ship was that it got stuck in the ice while carrying global warming scientists.

Ironically a group of scientists who went to study the disappearing arctic ice caps gets stuck in ice miles from their intended destination and not one news source is making this knowledge part of their broadcast.


Regardless of your political and/or environmental views, you should be able to laugh at the irony of this predicament. A Russian expedition ship is carrying scientists and passengers led by an Australian climate change professor and the Chinese icebreaker Xue Long, or Snow Dragon, was just six nautical miles away from making the rescue, but now it’s stuck in an Antarctica ice floe, too.

The news did show a line of the scientists and crew members out in the frigid temperatures doing their rendition of “A Chorus Line” as they cleared a landing zone for a rescue helicopter.

For some reason the whole incident reminded me of that 70s Mother Nature *Chiffon* Margarine Commercial, "It's not nice to fool Mother Nature!"

I bet this is why we are having all the crazy weather now. It's not global warming. It's because someone switched Mother Nature's margarine.

Carbon Monoxide Safety

Carbon monoxide poisoning is a silent, deadly killer claiming about 1,000 lives each year in the United States. Such common items as automotive exhaust, home heating systems and obstructed chimneys can produce the colorless, odorless gas. The gas can also be produced by poorly vented generators, kerosene heaters, gas grills and other items used for cooking and heating when used improperly during the winter months.

NEVER run generators indoors. Open a window slightly when using a kerosene heater. NEVER use charcoal to cook indoors. NEVER use a gas oven to heat your home. Symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning include sleepiness, headaches and dizziness. If you suspect carbon monoxide poisoning, ventilate the area and get to a hospital. Prevent Water Pipes from Freezing

To prevent frozen water pipes, follow these tips:

Wrap pipes in insulation or layers of old newspapers – cover the newspapers with plastic to keep out moisture. Let faucets drip a little to avoid freezing. Let hot and cold water trickle at night from a faucet on an outside wall. Teach family members how to shut off water valves. Open cabinet doors to allow more heat to get to un-insulated pipes under a sink or appliance near an outer wall. Make sure heat is left on and set no lower than 55 degrees. (This means you Tony!)

If Pipes Freeze

Make sure you and your family knows how to shut off the water, in case pipes burst. Stopping the water flow minimizes the damage to your home. Call a plumber and contact your insurance agent. NEVER try to thaw a pipe with an open flame or torch. Always be careful of the potential for electric shock in and around standing water.

If You Lose Power

If you lose electrical service during the winter, follow these tips:

First, call your utility to determine area repair schedules. Turn off or unplug lights and appliances to prevent a circuit overload when service is restored. Leave one light on to indicate when power has been restored. If heat goes out during a winter storm, keep warm by closing off rooms you do not need.

Alternative Heating Safety Tips

Use only safe sources of alternative heat such as a fireplace, small well-vented wood or coal stove or portable space heaters. Always follow manufacturer’s instructions. When using alternative heat sources such as a fireplace, woodstove, etc. always make sure you have proper ventilation. Keep curtains, towels and potholders away from hot surfaces. Have a fire extinguisher and smoke detectors – and make sure they work.

If you use kerosene heaters to supplement your regular heating fuel, or as an emergency source of heat, follow these safety tips:

o Follow the manufacturer’s instructions. o Use only the correct fuel for your unit. o Refuel outdoors ONLY and only when the unit is cool. o Keep the heater at least three feet away from furniture and other flammable objects. o When using the heater, use fire safeguards and ventilate properly.

Outdoor Safety

When venturing outdoors, wear loose, lightweight, warm clothing in several layers. Trapped air between the layers acts as an insulator. Layers can be removed to avoid perspiration and subsequent chill. Outer garments should be tightly woven, water repellent and hooded. Always wear a hat or cap on your head – half of the body’s heat can be lost because of an uncovered head. Cover your mouth with a scarf to protect your lungs from extreme cold. Mittens, snug at the wrist, are better than gloves because fingers maintain more warmth when they touch each other. Cold temperatures put an extra strain on your heart. Heavy exertion, such as shoveling snow, clearing debris or pushing a car, can increase the risk of a heart attack. Stay warm, dress warm and SLOW DOWN when working outdoors. Take frequent rests to avoid over exertion. If you feel chest pain — STOP and seek help immediately.

Stay warm and be careful - that kind of cold can be deadly.


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