It may not feel like it yet, but cold weather is on the way again! To keep yourself safe in the fall and winter, be sure you know the basics of cold weather safety. Start preparing now, so that your home, car, pets, and wardrode will be ready by the time the temperatures really drop.
For your house:
- If you’re in a position to have the house insulated, do so, especially in the walls around outlets, in the attic and crawlspaces, and anyplace water pipes are exposed to areas which get cold. If you can’t insulate the house, there are some inexpensive and removable fixes which will make an impact on the temperature, but not on your wallet or your lease:
- Plastic cling-film over windows. A clear plastic film with adhesive tape comes cheap at most home improvement stores- you affix the film to the window frame with removable tape, then use a hair dryer to tighten the film. This can reduce heat loss by up to 15%. If visibility is not a concern, you can spray bubble wrap with a light mist of water and stick it to the window, to similar affect.
- Adhesive strip-insulation, for the gaps between external doors and windows and their frames. This comes in both foam tube style, and adhesive felt. Both are easy to apply and to remove, and significantly reduce drafts.
- Curtains, or other fabric over windows. You can even tack up a blanket if you need to- this method also works to cover doorways without doors, so that you can break up your space into areas more easily heated with a space heater.
- Draft-guards for the cracks under doors; these can be purchased at home improvement stores, or constructed out of pool noodles cut into quarters and adhered to a backing. A rolled up towel will do- you just need something to keep the draft from getting in under the door. This trick also works for ill-fitting windows.
- If you have a furnace, check the filter (or have your landlord do so) before you first activate it. If the filter looks dirty, replace it. This can make central heating more efficient.
- If you have a fireplace that you don’t use, stop up the chimney with an inflatable plug, or just wad up some insulation up there and make sure nobody lights a fire.
- If you have a fireplace that you do use, make sure to prepare it for use. This includes opening the flue, cleaning it, and educating others on fireplace safety. Ensure that the flue is tightly closed when the fireplace is not in use, and remember to practice fire safety.
- If you lack central heating, a fireplace, or a woodstove, consider a space heater. Space heaters work best in smaller areas, like single rooms. Make sure the room is insulated, first.
- Most US states have some form of Energy Assistance. Here is the link for Virginia’s Energy Assistance Programs, where you can learn how to qualify and apply.
How to Dress:
- Layers. To successfully dress for cold weather, you should have three layers: a wicking layer, an insulating layer, and a weather resistant layer. (These links describe clothes to pack for backpacking; unless you have to carry your clothes with you most for the time, you can disregard the weight concerns of each item.) This means, a snug layer to move moisture, like sweat, away from your body, a layer of warm clothes, and a shell which can resist rain, wind, and snow, but still breathe.
- Wear socks which will remain dry when wet. Cotton is out, wool is good if you can get it, and has the added benefit of enduring multiple wears without picking up odor. Don’t wear too many pairs of socks, because it can restrict your circulation- which will ultimately make your feet more cold and raise your risk of frost bite.
- Waterproof shoes. If your shoes are not waterproof, but you need to spend an appreciable amount of time in snow or rain, you can take plastic garbage bags, put one on each foot over the socks, and tape firmly (but not tightly) in place. Then, slide the shoe on. This will keep your feet dry, but is an odd sensation. You can also waterproof your shoes, with a spray available at most grocery stores. Leather shoes should be treated, paying special attention to the seams.
- Remember gloves, scarves, and hats/ear muffs.
- Just because it’s cold doesn’t sun safety is less important! In fact, you are at greater risk of sun burn if the sun is reflecting off of snow. Apply sunscreen to exposed areas, especially under your eyes and on your lips. Despite misconceptions, sun protection is necessary for dark as well as light skin; nobody is immune to sun damage.
- Hypothermia can strike even in urban areas. Be on the alert for people showing symptoms- if someone is showing symptoms like shivering, clumsiness, slurred speech or inability to speak, confusion, and fast breathing, assist them. You may need to call 911. Infants with hypothermia are lethargic, with red, cold skin. It is unlikely that you would realize if you have hypothermia, because of the neurological effects, so watch out.
- Look out for frostbite at the extremities, especially toes, feet, and ears. Frostbite happens when tissues freeze- you can treat some mild frostbites at home, but serious frostbite requires emergency treatment.
- Install a carbon monoxide monitor in your home. Some forms of heating, used improperly, can cause a buildup of an oxygen-displacing gas, which is colorless, odorless, and deadly.
- Cold winter air leaves your mucous membranes especially vulnerable to communicable illness. Get your flu shot, wash your hands often, and avoid people with communicable illness.
Out and About:
- Follow these safe winter driving tips. Make sure your car is ready for snowy or icy conditions, and use best judgement on when to drive. Pack emergency gear in the vehicle in case you become stuck or stranded, including a blanket. Foil emergency blankets insulate very well.
- Drive with extra caution if visibility is reduced, or if the road is icy. If you are a pedestrian, proceed with extra caution near roadways.
- Do not walk on bodies of water which appear frozen, unless clearly marked safe. If you do so and hear a crack, lie down immediately on the ice to distribute your weight. Never attempt to rescue someone who has fallen through ice along- it’s at least a two person job.
- Salt walkways, outside stairs, and sidewalks to prevent icing.
- Most school districts will excuse a child’s absence if their parent or guardian decides, despite a lack of school closure, the conditions are too unsafe for the child to attend school.
- Be alert for others suffering from cold weather injury. If you see someone who is in distress, ask if you can help. If they are unable to respond, consider it an emergency.
- Beware of leaving antifreeze out in the open!
This chemical, a necessary part of weatherizing your vehicle, is sweet and appealing to animals, but very toxic! Dogs and cats will try to consume it! While antifreeze (ethylene glycol) poisoning in humans can be counteracted with ethynol (alcohol which we drink), never give a pet alcohol, as this is also toxic to them.
- In the cold months, cats enjoy sleeping on the warm engine blocks of recently parked cars. Knock on the hood or honk the horn before starting your vehicle to startle napping cats and prevent their deaths.
- Your dog or cat may require a sweater. Look out for frost bite of ears and tails.
- Wipe the feet and belly of animals which may have walked through road salt.
10:02 am • 1 October 2014 • 4 notes
Every Monday, from 2-4pm, in the conference room at Crenshaw House (919 West Franklin Street, Richmond VA), the VCU Department of Gender, Sexuality, and Women’s Studies holds Jail Mail, an event to write letters, make zines, and prepare care packages for prisoners in the Richmond City Jail and LGBTQ prisoners across the United States.
The event is always open to the public, meaning, you don’t have to be a student to participate. There’s also no need to be familiar with prisoner letter correspondence, or already have a penpal- if you’re new, the process will be explained.
Note that Crenshaw House is not wheelchair accessible.
12:51 am • 1 October 2014 • 1 note
12th Annual Gabriel Forum
Friday, October 10th, at 5:30pm, at Richmond’s African Burial Ground (intersection of 15th and East Broad Streets, Richmond VA 23219), the Sacred Ground Historical Reclamation Project of the Defenders for Freedom, Justice & Equality is holding the 12th Annual Gabriel Forum.
This event will commemorate the 214th anniversary of the execution of the great slave rebellion leader Gabriel. From the event description:
“The 24-year old enslaved blacksmith and brilliant and courageous revolutionary was executed on Oct. 10, 1800, at the town gallows, located in Richmond’s African Burial Ground. Each year since 2003 the Defenders have held a ceremony there to remember the sacrifices of those who have come before and rededicate ourselves to the struggles ahead, including the ongoing campaign to reclaim and properly memorialize the former slave-trading district of Shockoe Bottom.”
This year we will be joined by a delegation of officials from the city of Segou, Richmond’s sister city in the Republic of Mali in West Africa. These sisters and brothers will share their thoughts about standing on the very ground where many of their own ancestors are buried. We will also hear from Omowale Deane, president of the African Ancestral Chamber; Weluna Queen Earth of the Nation of Gods and Earths; Phil Wilayto, editor of The Virginia Defender; and others moved that evening to share their thoughts and feelings at this sacred site. The gathering will be led by Ana Edwards, chair of the Sacred Ground Historical Reclamation Project, which sponsors this annual event.
Gabriel was the last of more than two dozen revolutionaries who in 1800 gave their all in a bold attempt to end slavery in Virginia. It’s likely that in his final moments he was surrounded only by jeering militiamen and racists. Come stand with him this Oct. 10 as we rededicate ourselves to the struggle for justice and freedom.”
RSVP through the title link.
4:46 pm • 29 September 2014 • 1 note
Today is National Public Lands Day, a day to celebrate public lands and parks. On this day, many regional, state, and national parks waive their entry fees or provide discounts. It is also a day to volunteer to help improve and maintain public lands, parks, and historical sites.
See this link to find a site near you and sign up to volunteer.
12:01 am • 28 September 2014 • 6 notes
The Defenders Present: “Occupation 101: Voices of the Silenced Majority.”
Friday, September 26th, from 6:30-9pm, at the William Byrd Community House (224 South Cherry Street, Richmond VA), the Defenders for Freedom, Justice & Equality are holding a screening of the documentary “Occupation 101: Voices of the Silenced Majority.” The film is an exploration of the history of Israeli apartheid and occupation in Palestine, and is a good primer for people unfamiliar with the.
The film will begin at 7pm, and will be followed by a discussion. Light refreshments will be served. Free, but donations appreciated. Children are welcome, but some images in the film may not be appropriate for young kids. The venue is wheelchair accessible.
If you are not confident in your knowledge of this struggle, please attend this event.
RSVP through the link.
I don’t like to do long text posts unless absolutely necessary. This is absolutely necessary.
There was really low attendance tonight, and yet again, a particular lack of white attendees specifically, which is of concern to me considering that about 2/3rds of this blog’s readership is white. This isn’t an issue of unfortunate scheduling or poor publicizing or ambiguous announcements, it’s a clear trend which has been evident since July, when the demonstrations against the attack on Gaza began. I was literally one third of the white attendees tonight, and I don’t even really count because I’m a member of the group that put it on.
This is a problem. America is responsible for the situation of the Palestinians- our government is funding the occupation and its attendant brutality, shielding Israel from sanctions and investigations when it breaks international law, and arming the Israeli army. Because of that culpability, Americans have the best access, second only to Israelis themselves, to the structure of the apartheid system. That access means that we have a political and moral imperative to do something about it and support the local Palestinian community in the actions they take- but we can’t if we’ve only got a handful of people who even know there’s something wrong. The widespread non-response of progressives in Richmond is isolating what efforts exist and killing the possibility of new mass campaigns.
The Defenders are holding another showing at the end of October, because the response tonight was so small. If that doesn’t work for you, I have an alternative proposition- if you would like to hold a showing, at your house, religious institution, school, wherever you can get permission, I will bring the film and help you do it. If you want to see it by yourself, you can get a 7 day instant rental for $2 from Amazon here.
Stay tuned for further information about the repeat showing next month. Contact me if you would like to arrange a showing.
1:30 am • 27 September 2014 • 4 notes
The YWCA and VCU Institue for Women's Health Present: Empowerment Through Education
The YWCA and VCU Institute for Women’s Health are holding a series of brown bag lunch educational events, on Thursdays in October, from 12-1:30pm, at the YWCA of Richmond (6 North 5th Street, Richmond VA). The schedule is as follows:
October 2nd: Dating Violence on College Campuses.
October 9th: Abuse of Persons with Disabilities.
October 16th: Forensic Nurse Examiners: Responding to Intimate Partner Violence.
October 23rd: Intimate Partner Violence Within the LGBTQ Community.
These events are free and open to the public, but registration is strongly recommended and can be completed through this link.
11:32 pm • 24 September 2014 • 4 notes
Watch Out: the Annual "Forty Days of Life" Anti-Abortion Campaign Begins Today
The yearly anti-abortion event, in which anti-abortion churches and political groups mobilize volunteers to protest outside of clinics, begins today, September 24th. It will run until November 2nd. You can check through the link to see if clinics in your city will be targeted.
While official policy of the Forty Days of Life organizers states that anti-abortion protesters are not to harass, impede, threaten, or assault clinic workers or patients, it is very common for participants to do exactly those things. Some events will involve only silent prayer on public thoroughfares in front of the clinic, while others will invariably include screaming obscenities at patients, grabbing women entering the building, and the display of graphic images.
In Virginia, there are anti-abortion vigils and demonstrations planned for the cities of Richmond, Alexandria, Charlottesville, Newport News, Falls Church, Manassas, Roanoke, and Virginia Beach. More details, from the Forty Days of Life website, are available through each link.
If the clinics being targeted in your city have Clinic Defense teams, now would be a good time to contact them to see if they need extra volunteers during this period. Richmond’s weekly clinic defense at the Richmond Medical Center for Women does not currently need extra volunteers.
3:53 am • 24 September 2014 • 8 notes
Today is Celebrate Bisexuality Day, a day for the celebration of bi- and nonmono- sexuality. The above image in the bisexual pride flag.
12:01 am • 23 September 2014 • 29 notes
"Anti-Gay Bullying Leads to Brutal Beating of Henrico Teen"
Fourteen year old Eric Martin, a student at Highland Springs High School in Henrico County, was hospitalized earlier this month with a broken arm and a concussion after being beaten by attackers (not identified in this article) who used homophobic slurs as part of their campaign of abuse. The school was evidently dismissive and disrespectful to his mother when she called to address his treatment.
His father says that he has been informed that Eric, who has a broken arm and a concussion, may face assault charges for fighting back while being beaten.
I’ve been in touch with the family’s advocate, and they are accepting letters and cards of support for Eric at this address: Letters for Eric, P.O.Box 993, Sandston, Virginia 23150, USA.
10:06 pm • 22 September 2014 • 17 notes
LGBTQ End-of-Life Planning (Because Stuff Happens)
Wednesday, October 15th, from 7-8:30pm, at the Gay Community Center of Richmond (1407 Sherwood Avenue, Richmond VA), SAGE is holding an event centered on End of Life Planning.
The event is open to the public, for people of all ages and, although tailored for an LGBTQ audience, all orientations. Certified Senior Advisor Harvey Chambers will explains end of life planning for all ages- you can use the information for yourself, your partner, or your parents.
The event is free. The venue is wheelchair accessible.
RSVP through the link.
10:01 pm • 22 September 2014 • 1 note