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Turn Up the Heat!
1/9/2014 10:51:09 AM

By Beverly Gadson-Birch

Burrr! I don’t know when it’s been this cold in Charleston. The weather channel issued a plant and pet warning with temperatures in the low teens. I decided I had too much invested in my porch plants to let the cold destroy them; so, I threw on a coat and grabbed a couple of covers to keep them warm. I may be wrong but those plants looked like they were waiting for me to rescue them from the cold. The leaves had begun to droop. Old folks used to say if you talk to the plants they thrive better. Well, this was not a night for plant talking. I did tell them y’all better be glad I am home ‘cause y’all would be on your own if you were waiting for hubby to cover you up. Then I made a mad dash out the door and made a mad U-turn.

The icy cold weather met me at the door. I had to make a hurried decision. Do I leave the plants uncovered and just replace them in the spring or face the cold head on and risk getting pneumonia or compromise my already fragile health? I decided to face the cold and was I surprised. The weather man was not exaggerating. It was bone chilling cold.

My thoughts immediately turned to the homeless. What’s going to happen to them? Where are they going to stay? It’s time like these that you really appreciate having a roof over your head. It’s no joke not knowing where you are going to lay your head and whether your family will have heat. This country needs to do more to help those that are homeless—many of whom the system has had a hand in forcing out of their homes while illegally foreclosing on their homes.

Seniors beware! The wind makes it much colder than it really is. Do not remain outdoors for extended periods of time during extreme cold spells because y’all already dealing with “Ritis” and “Bursitis”; and, your knees lock up when the temperature drops making it difficult to walk. There is also the risk of frostbites, hypothermia and even dying.

Baby boomers, can we talk? We can hardly get out of a shower of rain but we are just too vain to use a cane or walker without being court ordered to do so. I am not there yet but when the time comes I am going to find myself a really cool cane.

Have y’all ever been to Chicago during a cold snap or Polar Vortex as the meteorologist so affectionately calls this extreme cold front? What in the hamsandwich is a Polar Vortex? According to, “a Polar Vortex is a large pocket of very cold air, typically the coldest air in the Northern hemisphere, which sits over the polar region during the winter season.” And, generally the cold weather does not make it this far south. Meteorologists say this is the coldest it has been in 20 years. I don’t know about y’all but cold weather does not agree with me and I don’t agree with it. I am a fair weather girl.

Minneapolis was bracing for a minus -26/-54° and Chicago -18/-48°. And you think Charleston is cold at 18° with wind chill factor between 0-10°? For awhile, I attended school in the north and lived through some really frigid weather. Cold weather is only good for ice and Polar bears so I decided to return to the south where the weather was moderately warm year round. Tonight, I am applauding that decision. Good choice! I can remember rounding the corners in Atlantic City and the winds slapping me dead smack in my face. And, my trips to New York and Philadelphia were even more memorable. When I rounded corners, I would back up into the winds. I could never face the cold head on.

Cold weather brings out the worst in heating systems. If your system is going to break down, it will during extreme temperatures. Be sure to have your system checked for carbon monoxide leaks. Carbon monoxide is a silent killer. It is an odorless gas and it kills! It almost killed my mother and her children were in and out of the home on a regular basis. We did not detect that something was wrong until she started acting having headaches and acting confused. Some sources of carbon monoxide are coal, gasoline, kerosene, oil, propane, wood, automobile engines and natural gas water heaters. The elderly and young children are highly vulnerable. Be sure to watch for any changes in behavior (see symptoms below).

According to an article published in the New York Times Health Guide (Jan 7, 2014) Symptoms are: breathing problems, including no breathing, shortness of breath, or rapid breathing.
• Chest pain (may occur suddenly in people with angina)
• Coma
• Confusion
• Convulsions
• Dizziness
• Drowsiness
• Fainting
• Headache
• Hyperactivity
• Impaired judgment
• Irritability
• Low blood pressure
• Muscle weakness
• Rapid or abnormal heart beat
• Shock
• Nausea and vomiting
• Unconsciousness

If you have a local emergency, get the person out in the fresh air and call 911 or the National Poison Control Center @ 1-800-222-1222 for more information.

Be warm and hunker down! This too shall pass.

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