Have we forgotten how to dress for winter?

Today is predicted to be one of the coldest days we have had in this area in a long time. Extreme cold worries me. It fact, it scares me because frigid weather is just so unforgiving.

On top of that, the relatively mild winters of late have led us all to some bad habits.

Look at what the teenagers are wearing when they arrive at the local high schools. Few opt for gloves, scarves or hats. Heaven forbid that they wear a hat because it might mess up their hair. I’ve even seen shorts in past Januaries.

And it is not just the young people.

I know of a couple in their 80s who are also not dressing warmly enough. These two shall remain nameless or I will get coal in my stocking next year. They have an attached garage and even in the coldest weather they wear light jackets without hats or gloves.

Other people tell me that they dress lightly if they are just running to the grocery. I watch folks tucking their fingers under their arm while they pump gas.

I want to grab them all by their short sleeves and ask, “What if someone runs you off the road? What if you get stuck in a ditch full of snow? What if you get a flat tire?”

That cozy leather upholstered interior with the great sound system is not going to keep you warm for long.

Local EMS and fire personnel are familiar with this situation.

“Keep in mind that nobody thinks this is going to happen to them,” said Lt. Brian Halk of Bethel Township.

He explained that accidents and car breakdowns can happen to anyone.

“And it can happen when you are not within walking distance of help,” Halk added.

Salt, he explained, is not as effective in the extreme cold. We need to remember this when the temperature approaches zero. (And we all know that some folks just drive too fast for the conditions and cause accidents. It is not us, of course.)

Halk stated that having an extra blanket, coat, gloves and a cell phone can make a big difference in driver and passenger comfort while waiting.

And be prepared for a wait. During difficult weather, tow trucks can be overloaded with calls — resulting in delays that can be uncomfortable for those waiting in a cold car.

Halk also advised being careful about carbon monoxide.

“If you’ve got the car running and the heater going, crack the windows just half an inch to keep fresh air in the car,” he advised.

Enon-Mad River Township Fire and EMS Chief Tracy Young said that in the past he has seen people not hurt by a crash, but suffering from being “exposed to the elements.”

“It goes with the line of preparedness,” said Young. “Have a disaster kit in the vehicle, an extra blanket, an old coat, extra gloves, scarves and ear warmers.”

He also recommends keeping a flashlight in the car and acquiring an emergency kit at an auto store.

I think they both have great advice.

Your fingers will not mind if you keep an old mismatched set of gloves in the back seat or even an old pair of socks. They just want to be warm.

And while you wait, it might be good to repeat this phrase: “If winter comes, can spring be far behind?”

I’m not a big fan of the poet Percy Shelley, but I think when he wrote this he was right on.

Stay warm folks and think daffodils.

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