To the editor:
Being stationed in the great state of Alaska for three winters gives one a great respect for and some knowledge of dangerously cold weather. So allow me to pass on a few areas of concern.
- If you do not need to be out in bitterly cold weather, don’t.
- Cover all skin and try to use a two-person system; keep an eye on the other person to look for signs of confusion, as it may be hypothermia. Small white spots on the skin is a warning to get inside and warm up.
- If you start to shiver, go to a warm place — do not wait.
- Bitterly cold air is dry air, inside and outside; if someone has breathing problems use a humidifier, and absent a humidifier place a container of water next to heating vents (not on top), but in a way to allow the air to pass over the water. Put water in sinks or tubs not in use. The elderly and children, especially very young children, are susceptible to breathing problems in dry conditions.
- Look to pets; ensure outside pets have a place out of the wind, and heated if possible.
On a lighter note, I had the occasion to talk with a person in Point Barrow, Alaska, well north of the Arctic Circle one winter; when I asked him what they did for fun in winter, he said we mostly stand around and try to get our cars started.
Be safe stay warm, this is dangerously cold weather.
— Robert M. Traxler, Dorr