Wednesday, December 5, 2012

LIve in the North? Driving or playing in the back country? Make sure you can start a fire!

Fire = Life in the North. That's a truism. 

A couple of pieces I've been writing recently dealt with people in the far North, so, in keeping with my former role as an educator, I tried to add useful information to the narrative.

Like I stated above, Fire is life in the North.  Being Canadian, cold is nothing new, but us modern folk take for granted heated cars, heated buildings etc. I remember years ago when I worked in an office downtown Ottawa, I would drive 1 hour in, during the Winter, and frequently would do so in dress shoes, and without proper gloves etc. I was in such a rush to get to work, I neglected my safety.

Thankfully I never had a crisis. I did break down on a 30 mile stretch of frozen road, but a tow truck came within an hour (thank the Gods! The police had just closed that road!). In that situation I could have died for want of warmth.

I was out for my daily 3 mile walk in the Ottawa Valley last week (End of Nov), and there was a good wind blowing, and the temperature was below freezing. I came home with massive red welts on my legs, which were burning and itching like crazy. This is called Frostnip, or 1'st Degree Frost Bite. If this happens repeatedly in the same locations, you can suffer permanent nerve damage. I remember this happening weekly when I was a kid. We'd go tobogganing in jeans, and be soaking wet for hours, and frozen to the bone. Little did I know this was Frostnip - I thought it was good fun!

My point to all this, is that it' very easy to prepare to be warm. Obviously dressing warm is a key, but I won't go into that. (remember to layer!)

A simple tool that I never leave the house with in Winter, is a fire-starter. The best kinds have a little rod and perhaps a magnesium block. These can start fires in high winds, wet weather etc.

A Basic fire-starter

Even better - Adds Magnesium Block (for tinder)

My personal choice is a combination Knife / Fire-starter / Whistle / Flashlight from Tool Logic.

The flashlight isn't much use, but the other features are great. A whistle is an added bonus. If your voice is hoarse from yelling or from dehydration, a whistle can help you get rescued.

A knife has so many uses, I'll leave that for another article (I never leave home without a knife of some kind, whatever the weather).

So, leave home prepared if you live anywhere with Cold weather! Remember, in the North, Fire = Life.

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