Washington Evening Journal
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Neighbors Growing Together | Dec 18, 2014

One more before winter

By David Hotle | Nov 20, 2012

I managed to slip one more in before the winter. That’s right. On Sunday, I grilled out.

It was a nice 50 degrees or so. I wore a light jacket to cook my steak over the bed of hot coals and wood for flavoring. I really enjoy grilling and try to, every chance I get. After the last few weeks we have been having where temperatures dipped into the 30s, I figured that it was time to put the grill up for one more year. Who knows? I may even get the chance to do it again next weekend before winter rears its head.

Still, the chill in the air when I come to work says that winter is imminent. Along with grilling, I also took my air conditioner out of the window for the year. At the risk of sounding negative, winter will be in full swing in probably just a few weeks. I’m predicting — with the unseasonably warm winter last year and the dry weather over the summer — we will have a particularly cold winter, but not a lot of snow. I’m not a meteorologist, so that is just a guess.

The falling temperatures mean one thing. It’s time to get ready for winter. Since I’ve been in Washington, which has been quite a few years now, we have had quite a few winter events. We have had an ice storm that knocked the power out of the better part of the state. We have had temperatures drop well below zero. We’ve gotten lucky that those two incidents didn’t occur at the same time. In any event, this means that we should at least put a little thought into taking a few simple precautions that could make all the difference this winter.

I think the first thing is to get cars winterized. Let’s not forget that some really bad things can happen if cars break down in the middle of nowhere. Murphy’s law also dictates that where the car will break down will also be a dead zone for cell signals.

Personally, I keep a winter survival kit in the trunk of my car in case I have to stay out overnight. This last spring, I snagged an old piece of carpet off someone’s curb. I also cut it in two. It now sits in my trunk ready in case I need to get some traction. I also have a somewhat interesting little device in my trunk that reminds me of a light sleeping bag with arms. I believe it was designed for Swedish pilots. The interior is lined with a surface that reflects body temperature. It will keep someone relatively warm in minus 50 degree temperatures. I saw this on a table at a gun show and decided it was just the thing in case I ended up stranded after dark during the winter.

How about homes? I suspect that plastic sheeting to keep window drafts to a minimum is flying off the shelves at the local hardware stores now. In fact, I need to remember to go and get some. Does everyone have plenty of blankets and candles and some canned goods in case there is a blackout? A good weather radio is also very handy.

Watching the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy is reinforcing to me that it is better to be able to take care of yourself than to wait for some alphabet soup agency to come and help you. A few simple precautions are all that is really needed.

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