We are almost two-thirds of the way through autumn now here in the northern hemisphere, so it's that time of year once again. It's time to put a some thought into dealing with frigid temperatures at inopportune moments, and being able to avoid cold weather injuries in the process if something goes wrong.
When the temperature outside our front door has dropped to the point the most common liquid on this planet has become a solid, if you haven't already done so, it's time to take a few minutes to winterize your daily set up. There is a very simple reason for this. Exposure to such low temperatures for extended periods of time – such as any unexpected long delays during an evening commute without a way to warm up – can easily turn another of the more common liquids on this planet to a solid, the very blood that flows through our veins. Having experienced severe frostbite personally, and having seen and felt some of my own flesh frozen solid, I can assure you it is a very unpleasant experience.
As far as contingency plans go, simply putting an extra layer of warm clothes in a bag in our vehicle is one of the least expensive and least time consuming insurance policies we will ever manage. And unlike a life insurance policy, this one can actually pay off by keeping us alive. An extra sweater, thermals, and socks weigh very little and take up very little space, but they can make a huge difference when stranded on a long cold winter night.
The various iterations of hand, foot, and body warmers on the market these days take up very little space as well, and they're hardly noticeable weight-wise in a brief case or day pack. Yet when activated and shoved into pockets, socks, and inside a jacket can provide enough warmth to keep our extremities warm enough to not be susceptible to frost bite, and keep us warm enough in general to not fall prey to hypothermia. If the situation occurs under icy road conditions, Uber and Lyft may well be off the table all together, and it may take a while for any other help to arrive. With enough layers of clothing to trap the heat they produce, the hand warmers can keep us warm enough to avoid cold weather injuries even if we drift off to sleep while waiting on help to arrive.
Thawing frozen door locks, so that we can get in out of the weather, is another task where the hand warmers can be good to have around. With so many modern vehicle keys having chips inside, or being attached to small plastic boxes filled with electronics, heating the metallic part of a key with an open flame may not be as good of an idea these days as it once was. The hand warmers can be used to warm the key, and even repeatedly so, much more safely than a flame that may well overheat the key and cause a malfunction.
Benjamin Franklin once said that an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. With all the inflation that has occurred since his day, and looking at the cost of the average emergency room visit, or worse yet the average funeral, it's probably worth a few pounds of cure in some cases by now. So if you're one who has a long daily commute to and from work, or anywhere else, through desolate or questionable areas do yourself a favor. Take a just few minutes to make some contingency preparations for the winter temperatures. If something goes wrong you and the people who love you will be very glad that you did.
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The term “surf and turf” usually relates to a dinner entree consisting of one protein from the land and one from the sea. Most of the time, this means steak and lobster or some form of red meat and shellfish or crustacean. If you’re looking to dine out on the frugal side, this menu item is usually on the other far side of the menu. I’m going to take some liberty with the term “surf and turf” and extend “surf” to the rivers and tributaries of the great lakes for the purpose of this monthly blog. I’m writing this and I get to set the rules. Trust me, this story is going to be worth bending the terms. You see, I’ve just had an epic week of hunting and fishing so this article for Fiddleback Forge was certainly going to include the amazing bow hunting experience in Kent, Connecticut and catching monster fish in Albion, New York. Granted, the cost of the gear and travel to get these menu items is far from frugal but the taste is priceless.
I've received requests for more information on the small pocket emergency kit that appears in my articles now and then. Some want to know more about it; how it developed and what it contains, so I thought I'd dedicate this article to it.
My work takes me to some interesting areas, especially lately. Some are more questionable than others, and it's usually late night or early morning prior to sunrise. To avoid disruptions and distractions I try to not draw attention. I try to just blend in with the environment, go gray so to speak and be uninteresting, but be prepared for mishaps knowing some could be life or death depending on environment and/or season. So these little kits have developed to contain a variety of contingency items, chosen based on their likelihood of use at the time and place, and still discretely disappear into a pouch or cargo pocket until needed.
Knives & News
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