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home : opinion : columnist January 28, 2021

1/9/2021 8:14:00 PM
Guest Column
Let It Snow

Tom Dyson, LC Extension Director
NC Cooperative Extension

No matter what is said about the globe and warming….there are still no tropical orange groves or banana plantations in Lincoln County.  It gets really cold around here, and we have to be smart about it.  

When the weather outside is frightful and a fire seems so delightful, if there is no place you HAVE to go,  stay at home and let it snow….let it snow.   

But in the unfortunate event of a power outage during extreme cold, you need to think about more than bringing corn for popping.  You need to think about safety.  Alternative heat and power sources indoors can be even more frightful than the weather. 

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A grill indoors for heating means the fire may not be “slowly dying”, but “my dear”, you will be.  If a grill is not specifically designed and labeled for indoor use, don’t use it indoors.  Generators are the same.  Outdoors the carbon monoxide put out from generators and grills dissipates into the vastness of the atmosphere.  No big deal.  Inside the house, the carbon monoxide does much less dissipating and much more concentrating, with tragedy soon to follow. 

We always read warnings about carbon monoxide and running engines and grills in enclosed spaces.   But we don’t often read why.  Here is the reason.  The carbon monoxide they produce connects with your blood much more strongly than oxygen does.  That means it takes the place of the oxygen in your blood, and won’t let go.  So soon your blood is no longer carrying oxygen from your lungs to your body!  I hope it is obvious that this is not good news.  You cannot live without oxygen in your blood. 

Because carbon monoxide has no odor or color, it sneaks up on you.   That is REALLY bad news. You might get the warning signs of fatigue, headache, dizziness, or depression, but DO NOT DEPEND ON GETTING WARNINGS.  Just please don’t play around with heartbreaking tragedy just to stay warm.  Carbon monoxide can efficiently kill you and those you love.  Better to show up at a friend’s house who has heat, with a sleeping bag.  Tell them you brought some corn for popping.                

Once you are safe, please think of neighbors and any elderly folks.   They are in particular danger when it gets too cold.  A simple visit to an elderly neighbor, or anyone you are worried about, can have a great effect on them.  Even if you haven’t really gotten to know them, you will surely be welcomed if they are in trouble.  You might even be able to prevent a tragedy from the cold, or even from unwise use of alternative heat or power sources.   

Now, even when the power is on, and you are all settled in for your long winter nap in your cozy, toasty warm house, you need to think of those little cold little noses out in the yard that love you so.  A utility room, garage, or even a spacious cage in the house on an icy night is a great way to tell your outdoor pets that they count too and keep them safe.  Alternatively, take your favorite pillow out to the dog pen and show a little empathy.  Cuddling up to Fido on that concrete pad will surely convince you to let him in the house next time.  Concrete slabs are COLD.  And please be sure to keep all your animals water from freezing when they are outside too.  They can’t drink ice any better than you can.            

Anytime you MUST go out in the severe cold or snow, it is a good idea to travel with your phone and charger, some blankets, water, and a tin of Christmas cookies or maybe some figgy pudding in case you have a breakdown, or bad weather conditions strand you.   (Ok, I don’t know what figgy pudding is either). 

So, until there are orange groves growing along Rt. 27, and our Apple Festival becomes a banana festival, be ready and smart for the winter cold. 

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