Snow Joke..? – The Second Frostbite Report

Snowdive

It seems that winter has finally arrived in the UK.  As usual the press is full of horror stories about huge freezes and apocolyptic snowstorms – well, six inches anyway.  Why in Britain do we take such a sensationalist view of out natural climate..?

The Meteorological Office has extensive records which show the lowest recorded UK temperature as -27.2 C in Braemar and Altnaharra in Scotland, which sounds bitterly cold, but this pales into insignificance when you look at Oymyakon (the worlds coldest permanently inhabited location) at -89.2 C..!  So what makes the UK grind to a halt at -2C with a dusting of the white stuff..?

A very simple view is that many people are not prepared or skilled enough to cope.  I still see people walking on icy paths in trainers, feeling the cold because of poor clothing and not taking care when driving.  Let me break these down a little more…

Grip – Ice is slippery stuff..!  Why do you think climbers wear crampons..?  We understand the conditions and don’t want to fall off the mountain.  Now I’m not saying that the high street is like the North face of the Eiger, but slips, trips and falls on snow and ice accounted for over 4000 hospital admissions during 2011/2012.  I always keep walking boots or wellingtons at hand, and happily wear them where needed. If it’s really bad, I use a set of Pogu Foot Spikes.  Take responsibility for your own safety. Do you really want to hurt yourself..?

I’ve got enough injuries from the cold as it is, and I don’t want to add any more…

Insulation – Down jackets and good quality gloves/hats/socks etc make one heck of a difference in cold weather.  Unfortunately people tend to put them on when they are already cold.  This only keeps the cold in.  You need to wrap up when you’re still warm and keep the heat in..!  Your extremities are affected first, so finger tips, toes, earlobes and nose (believe me, I’ve been there), so protect them.  You only get one set (been there too). Smoking and alcohol consumption don’t help, due to their detrimental effects on circulation, but diabetics and sufferers of Raynauld’s Disease also have problems.  The issue is that sufferers tend to take better cafe of themselves.  I always keep a selection of gloves and hats above a radiator in my hallway, warm and ready to go…

Travel – People will not let go of their cars for love nor money, but the modern worker may have to travel miles to their job and will go through anything to get there.  I rarely find the roads a problem, it’s more other drivers.  If you own a 4×4, you’ll have better grip, but you still can’t stop.  I was passed by a huge chelsea tractor recently, doing 50mph in a snowstorm, which then slid across the lights as they applied their brakes 20 yards from the white line.  I could say things here, but I’ll hold back for now…

As soon as november comes I load a snow shovel, jetboil, chocolate and warm clothing into my car.  I always keep my fuel tank full and my windows clear.  I did 24 hour standby for over 10 years, and the calls usually came in the middle of the night in awful weather.  I had a 2WD saloon car and never got stuck, because I took my time, thought about my route, and walked when I needed to.  The RoSPA website has more information…

Being an Engineer in the Electricity Industry makes many demands on you, as people rely on their lights working day and night.  Few care if you’re the poor sod stood in a field at 03:30 pulling the wires back up, but it’s one heck of a training ground for serious adventure…

There is one other thought I have about people and the weather – people lack effort.  It’s too convenient to complain, blame others, close schools, not bother, take responsibility etc.  Headlines like this don’t help.  Perils my backside, put some effort in..!  Many schools are frightened of being taken to court because someone might hurt themselves.  If children don’t learn about the weather conditions when they’re young, how are they supposed to learn at all..?  I never had a day off school, because of snow, I just put my wellies on and waded in.  Panic buying has also been seen, as people (obviously) expect a month long siege.  I wonder how much will end up in the bin..?  Two words – Grow Up…

Thankfully I love snow..!  Every time it falls I run around like a three year old, dive in it, sledge, ski and have a great time.  We must embrace the weather and work with it, rather than make it an excuse not to live.  I have just passed as local hillside full of children screaming with delight as they slide down the slope.  It did my heart the world of good…

Ending on a sad note, when I was researching this piece, I typed ‘slips, trips and falls’ into Google and the top two hits were for Accident Claim Lawyers.  What has become of the country I love..?

4 thoughts on “Snow Joke..? – The Second Frostbite Report

  1. Great, agreed. Love the ‘Headlines like this’ bit, and when you click on it the caption saying, ‘Above, this picture of snow falling on the A52 near Brailsford was taken by Rod Kirkpatrick’, comes up with a picture of a railway sidings in snow.

    “Brailsford, but not as we know it Jim…”

    Magic!

  2. Nigel absolutley true. I have been making my way into work for over 30 years and never let the snow get in the way. Now I find at the first few flakes the only qustion people are asking is if we are closing the office early.

    • I agree Adrian. Unfortunately society thinks we owe it everything, but wants to give nothing in return. My engineering work shows the attitude of apprentices who think that they can do as they like, when they like. It’s not good for the economy or the people. They need to put some effort in…

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