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Save Yourself from Cold
Survival in a cold climate, indoors. Practical ideas.

Around the start of the winter of 2008, folks on TV were saying that old people were going to have to choose between eating and heating, and that many pensioners would turn the heating thermostats down. There would be about 10,000 deaths in the UK because of fuel poverty. The arguments between politicians generally centred around MONEY, and really that's not the main issue.

I am not poor, but there have been several occasions in the past where I have nearly died of cold (hypothermia). Some of these events have been to do with diabetic problems, and some (surprisingly) have even been in hot climates, a combination of hypothermia and hypoglycaemia. However, I have also travelled in cold conditions and slept in a bed in a van in which I could see ice forming on the ceiling! So, I can tell you a few things I know about ideas of survival in the cold.

For one thing, the basic argument you'll see politicians arguing about makes the shocking assumption that in order to stay warm, you need to heat the house! That's obviously expensive, and even though I'm now quite well-off, I gave up heating my house long ago! Instead, when living in the UK (a notoriously cold climate), I heat one room, a small room at that, and I close the doors (but I don't bung up all the holes, (a problem which tends to result in breathing problems)).

It's possible to take this a stage further, as I found when I was sleeping in a metal van. It was impossible to heat this, so instead I put on warmer clothes, and didn't worry so much about the fact that my breath was visible as cloud, or the fact that ice crystals were forming on the inside of the living space, or that my lemonade was freezing solid in the bottles while I slept. Now when I say "warmer clothes", I don't just mean an extra jumper. What I found most effective was a complete set of long-sleeved long-legged Damart underwear, of the highest quality insulation grade, and a fleecy-lined jumpsuit of the type that fishing shops sell. We are talking 50 for the Damart and another 50 for the jumpsuit. This may not be glamorous, but it is certainly effective against the cold. Plus, it's cheaper than heating!

Another thing I have found effective against the freezing cold conditions inside an unheated house in the UK, is Hot Water Bottles. What happens is that a kettle full of hot water, in a hot water bottle (in a hot water bottle jacket so it isn't dangerously hot to the touch), costs a minimal amount. It's then possible to carry this about, and it heats the body. Heating the body is much cheaper than heating the room, which is in turn cheaper than heating the house. (You also need to keep a spare hot water bottle in case the first one perishes)

If all else fails, it's possible to go to bed, preferably in a thermal sleeping bag of the type that Millets and other outdoor shops sell. Military surplus shops are also worth a look, as military-grade arctic conditions sleeping bags are available for sensible money.

By having good insulation and a hot water bottle, it is possible to survive in conditions which might otherwise be too cold.

Other handy survival items include a phone (so you can call for help), and some chocolate, in case of "running out of energy". In the UK, if you call for help, you will generally be rescued.

A lot of this stuff applies to anyone having to survive in a cold climate. As well as making your own plans to save yourself from cold, it's worth knowing that mountain climbers don't climb icy peaks alone. They have people with them so if anyone has a problem they can help each-other. If you are having trouble, talk to other people about it.

Now here are a few things to avoid:

* Candles. These are not cheap. Electric light is much cheaper, especially if you have economy bulbs. Candles are a fire risk, especially if you trip over, have a fall, etc.

* Bunging up all the holes. It is not a good idea to stop all draughts by bunging up all the gaps and holes in order to stay warm. You need air to breathe.

* Gas boilers that smell funny. If you feel ill, headachey, listless, or you have a headache when near that gas boiler which smells a bit odd, beware! It might be a blocked flue, and there is a risk of death through carbon monoxide. I've nearly died of that, too! Get the emergency experts in to mend it. If instead they put a "condemned" label on your boiler, phone the police and point out that you have been "condemned" to a likely death. Newspapers, charities, and hospital staff, are all keen to hear about this sort of thing.

* Missing meals. It's interesting to note that polar explorers carry loads of greasy fat and other nutritious stuff in those sledges they drag about. Eating is required, even if heating is unavailable. (Polar explorers also tend to wear lots of multiple layers of thin clothing).

* Brandy. It might make you feel warmer, but medically it makes you colder. Hot tea is much better for beating the cold.

* Eating solid snow. Costs energy to melt it. Better to warm it up before consuming it.

I realise that by writing this page it's very likely that a great many old people will live rather than die. As well as saving lives, this will also cost the UK government a huge amount of money! With all those pensioners surviving another year, and then another, the pensions they will continue to claim will not help the credit crunch at all. I might even cynically suggest that the government would rather like to see old people die, to save the government pension budget! Well, we'll not let them get away with such a cost-cutting measure! We live on, and spite them!

Never mind the Environment! Print this page out on paper made from trees and give it to someone to help to save them from freezing to death! (not everyone has the Internet, you know)

Published on the website Zyra.org.uk on the page Zyra.org.uk/savefromcold.htm

Please put the good word in for good causes and charities such as Age Concern (now combined with Help the Aged) and other noble Charities