The recent plunge of the Polar Vortex deep into the American Midwest should serve as a wake-up call for those who are preparedness-minded. Here are some recent headlines:
- Polar Vortex Triggers Coldest Arctic Outbreak in at Least Two Decades in Parts of the Midwest
- Minneapolis could break low temperature records originally set in the 1800s, and Chicago could challenge its all-time record low of minus 27 F, set on Jan. 20, 1985.
- (BBC): Polar vortex brings deadly cold snap to US states
- (BBC): Polar vortex: Ice quakes, burning railways and other quirky effects
- Polar vortex brings coldest air in a generation
Briefly, I’ve observed eight lessons from these recent weather events:
1.) Cold kills. Quietly. When traveling any substantial distance in winter, you should carry a sleeping bag for every passenger of your vehicle.
2.) Severe weather can create huge, multi-hour of even multi-day traffic snarls. Keep your vehicles’ fuel tanks at least 3/4ths full, as a matter of habit. (Most preppers already do so, year-round.)
3.) Slow down. Ice-slick roads can put you in a ditch so fast that you’ll find yourself asking: “What the heck just happened?” If you don’t have studded snow tires, then carry chains. Also: Carry a tow strap/chain, jumper cables, a snow shovel, and a bag of traction sand.
4.) Folks living at 30 degrees latitude and northward should seriously consider installing engine block heaters. These are already pretty much standard for folks living in the American Redoubt. Folks living in Indiana and Arkansas night equip their most winter road-worthy vehicle with one of these, of they don’t have a heated garage.
5.) The wind chill factor makes a huge difference. With a 30 mile per hour wind, a temperature of 0 degrees F has the same physiological effect as -26 degrees F in still air. If there is substantial wind chill, then do not go outdoors unless it is absolutely necessary. Frostbite of any exposed skin can develop in just a few minutes.
6.) Extreme weather can drastically affect public transportation. There were plenty of flight delays and cancellations. Some train and bus systems simply ground to a halt. Plan accordingly.
7.) Desperate people will rob you of your warm clothing, at gunpoint. It happened last week in Chicago. I’m certain that it could happen in the suburbs, in really hard times.
8.) The motto of “Have a Plan B, and a Plan C” also applies to sources of heat. Many people were without heat when local grid power failed. Their natural gas or propane whole-house heaters were essentially useless when there was no electricity to operate their fans to push hot air through their house HVAC ducts. So always have a second source of heat and store plenty of fuel for it.
As preppers, we should use this recent weather event as a “teachable moment” for discussions with family, friends, co-workers, and a fellow church congregants. Urge them to prepare for the next big weather event. If something like this doesn’t convince them to take steps to prepare their families, then we must conclude that they are beyond convincing! – JWR