Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Hypothermia

The bitter weather of the last month reminds me how dangerous chill can be in this damp climate. Monitor the end of your nose. If it's cold, you are cold. Do something right away. Stalling will impair cognition that is already impaired.

The essence of Seattle culture is to protect oneself from damp chill. I don't doubt that is why The Great Big Hiking Co-op is the dominant force in local fashion. Development, central heating, and reliable electricity are all recent technical innovations. Emergency preparedness is a way of life. Ordinary weather on the street can leave one as exposed and at risk as losing one's way on a trail through the woods. The Co-op's merino wool balaclava and tank top are compact enough to carry as emergency back-up. Layer from beneath to look urban. The balaclava makes a good improvised turtleneck.

Central Puget Sound has mercurial weather that can change from brisk to deadly with a shift in the wind. I stood at a South Lake Union bus stop with a local tribeswoman not long ago. It was damp, cloudy, and about forty degrees. The wind picked up slightly, and she acted immediately to cover her head and prevent loss of body heat, just as my mother, grandmother, and hiking instructors had all recommended. Others at the stop toughed it out, but they risked depleting their reserves by doing so. 

Late afternoon is a vulnerable time during the dark days of winter. Recharge at home by scheduling a tea break, arranging extra heat and light, setting out healthy snacks to bring blood sugar up, and showering and changing into fresh clothing. Keep the windows clean. Taking time to respect the challenges our unique climate offers will fend off seasonal depression and foster good morale at home -30-

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