Keeping Track of Wind Chills

This is the time of year when wind chills become especially problematic for those of us who spend substantial time outdoors. The wind chill doesn’t actually make things any colder. If your thermometer reports that it’s –9 degrees outside, then no matter what else happens, anything left outside long enough will cool to –9. However, the wind chill affects how fast the item cools. Obviously, staying outside until you body cools to that temperature will be deadly. In fact, the risk that you’re trying to avoid by monitoring the wind chill is hypothermia—a condition where your body cools faster than it can produce heat. Your normal body temperature is about 98.6 degrees. When your core temperature reaches 95 degrees, you begin experiencing hypothermia.

A simple way to monitor your risk is to take your temperature before and after you’re outside. If there is a risk of hypothermia, your temperature reading will go down. Of course, you can take an easier route by using any of the charts available for assessing your maximum time outdoors.

Using a Wind Chill Computer will help you determine how long you can stay outside if you’re absolutely healthy in every other way. You input the temperature and wind speed outside your door, rather than the temperature and wind speed reported on the radio. The wind chill will actually differ based on your location. For example, I live on a hill where the wind speed tends to be higher than it is in the nearby town, so the wind chill also tends to be higher here. If I used the wind chill reported in town, I could stay outside too long. I waited to go out this morning until the temperature rose to –7 and the wind gusts were at 12 mph. That made the wind chill –26 and my maximum time outdoors 30 minutes.

The wind chill charts assume that you’re in great shape and that you don’t take any medications that could affect your body’s ability to produce heat. If you have health issues, then you must reduce the time you spend outdoors when wind chill becomes a factor. Unfortunately, I can’t seem to find a resource that speaks to these issues, possibly because trying to calculate an outdoor time under these conditions would prove to be too complex. The best idea is to exercise caution and always stay out as little as you can.

My winter work coat is roomy. I bought it that way on purpose to make it easier for me to work. However, the roominess also lets me wear two shirts under my coat. I also wear a knit cap under the hood of my jacket to reduce heat loss through the top of my head. The gloves I wear are quite heavy and I wear long johns under my pants (which are also cut roomy for winter use). It’s essential to cover up if you want to avoid getting hypothermia.

Taking care outside is an essential part of surviving the winter. Always assume that something could happen to keep you outdoors longer than you planned and act accordingly. Make sure that someone knows where you’re at if at all possible so that help could arrive in time if you get into trouble. When in doubt, the work can probably wait until tomorrow, so wait until then to complete it when possible. Let me know your thoughts about wind chills at [email protected].


Winter Storm

It pays to be prepared for winter weather when you live in the country. Each year we winterize the house by checking for drafts, sealing doors, getting a roofing company Raleigh to check for any repairs that need doing, and ensure we have enough food stocked for a few days. This week we had a winter storm that was simultaneously beautiful in the extreme and quite deadly if approached incorrectly. The storm itself started with some heavy snows that draped the trees in a pretty covering that glistened even in the subdued light.


Watching the storm take shape was amazing, but I was also smart enough to know to limit my time outside. We carefully monitor wind chill so that we don’t end up frostbitten. For example, at a temperature of 5 degrees Fahrenheit and with a 20 mph wind, you can only stay outdoors safely for about 30 minutes before the possibility of frostbite intrudes. Dressing warm helps quite a lot, but getting the end of your nose frozen is no fun. Due to the fact that I knew the storm was coming, I made sure I had contacted an HVAC company like Valley Service to make sure that the heat would not go down in weather and that we could be reassured that we were safe and warm whilst we were indoors. There is nothing worse than being stuck in a winter storm with no heat available to keep everyone safe from the extreme weather.

The storm was severe enough to keep the roads clear. We saw a single car early in the morning before the storm reached it peak and then the road remained clear. Of course, it helped that most businesses and all schools were closed for the day. There is something to be said for the silent isolation of a storm. You look out the window and the road is missing from view (as is the case in this picture-yes there is a road there under the snow). You’re transported to a different time and can daydream of times past when life seemed simpler (and often wasn’t).


The serene landscape is so quiet, so hushed, you could easily get lost in it for hours at a time. Even so, there is activity if you look for it. Our local birds were quite busy at the feeder and seemed to hardly notice the snow at all. We love to watch them during the winter months as a reminder of the life that will return in the spring.


Another storm is past and soon life will return to normal. Today I’m exhausted from working in the cold to plow the road out so we can go to town tomorrow. I have yet to look for any potential damage to our house, but from a quick glance when I was clearing out the snow, everything seems to be in order. It is important that you check for any damage, as whilst you think that you have escaped unscathed, one clogged drain could seriously increase the chances of you experiencing water damage throughout the night. It happened to my friend not so long ago, and while he had insurance, his company took ages to get back to him and so he ended up contacting someone like this public adjuster Doylestown to help get the money he deserved so he could start the repair and cleanup process. Just seeing what he went through has made me make sure that it doesn’t happen to us, so I’ll have another check in the morning and we’ll go from there. Tonight I’ll sleep the most wonderful sleep there is and dream of the winter wonderland beyond my window. Our animals are all happy in their enclosures so carefully constructed to keep them safe and happy, the wood stove continues to heat our home, and our pets are inside as a source of comfort. Nothing is quite so cozy. What are your happiest thoughts of winter? Let me know at [email protected].

Preparing for the Storm

So far, our winter in this part of Wisconsin has been absurdly mild. In fact, we don’t have any snow on the ground. The temperatures have been up to 20 degrees above normal for most of the winter as well. All of these conditions might sound perfect to some people, but they had me worried. Over the years, I’ve learnt a lot about how to prepare our homestead for a harsh winter. I have had to learn which fuel is better for heating purposes, make sure we’ve got enough food supplies, and keep our land protected. However, I’ve also learnt when things are too good to be beneficial. The lack of snow means less moisture in the spring when we really need it to get annual plants going. The lack of a deep freeze could affect some of our perennial plants as well because they depend on the deep freeze. Consequently, despite the hardships that a storm will cause, I’m actually looking forward to the storm that will arrive on our doorstep tomorrow. The weather service is currently predicting temperatures in the teens (cool, but not quite cold yet), 7 to 9 inches of snow, and relatively high winds (which make for some dandy snow drifts). Of course, we won’t actually know what the weather will be until we see it.

The storm warnings are important, even if the weather service has missed the mark by a mile (they often do). Rebecca and I need to prepare for the storm because we could be snowed in for several days. Things have improved since we moved in here-we do get plowed out a bit earlier than in the past, but even so, we don’t take any chances. I have a checklist of things I do to prepare for a winter storm.

  • Test the snow blower
  • Test the generator
  • Check wood levels
  • Check gasoline levels
  • Check propane levels
  • Ensure we have enough salt and sand
  • Check perishables in the refrigerator
  • Check on pet food levels
  • Verify that we have fodder for the outside animals
  • Strap everything down

Our generator can run for about eight hours on a single tank of gas and we normally stock enough gas to fill it twice. We won’t run it continuously even if the power fails to ensure we have enough to maintain the refrigerator and freezer, and to pump water (we have our own well, so having electricity to run the pump is important). Of course, the septic system also requires electricity to run its pumps. I do run the electricity while working because naturally, computers require power. If you don’t have a back up electricty source, you may need to contact a local electrician melbourne cbd for example.

Fortunately, we don’t need electricity for quite a few other requirements. For example, because we use wood heat and don’t rely on a blower to distribute it, heating our home doesn’t require electricity. We also got rid of our electric stove, so we can cook food on our gas range without any electricity.

What does all this mean for you? Everyone should have a plan in place for storms, both summer and winter. You should create a checklist of items that you need to check before a storm hits. Take time to create one nowat a time when you have the time to think things through carefully. Maintain your list so that it remains pertinent to your requirements and to improve it so that there are fewer holes in your storm coverage. Consider issues for your particular situation. For example, I don’t need to store large quantities of water because I have my own personal well and my generator can supply power to it as needed. However, if you don’t have a well, then you need to consider storing water for use during a storm that knocks out the water supply. Because I live in a rural area and always need a good medical kit, I don’t have to check it as a separate itemthis is something we’re constantly checking anyway. If you live in the city and rely on the availability of local health care, you very likely need to check your medical kit to ensure that nothing is outdated or missing. It’s worth noting down the details of a few contractors too, like, so you know who to call should your home sustain any serious damage.

Creating a checklist of this sort is an essential part of being self-sufficient. Self-sufficiency during and after a major storm is one of the few forms of self-sufficient living that everyone can and should participate in. What sorts of things do you consider for your storm needs? Let me know at [email protected].