Sunday, July 8, 2012
Frozen in Florida
My lovely wife and I often found ourselves frozen during our winter Florida visit. How could that happen to a couple of New Hampshire people? It was actually a warmer than usual winter in Florida, a place not known for cold. We spent a lot of time outside adapting to the warm temperatures. It takes a couple weeks, but after that the warm days didn’t bother us much anymore.
What bothered us was air conditioning. It seemed that businesses and homes were kept at temperatures better suited to hockey rinks. We’d come in from outside dressed for warm weather and the temperature difference was a shock.
It’s surprising how many people who live in warm climates are not heat adapted. They move from air conditioned house to air conditioned car to air conditioned job. Then we get something like the recent storm that took down power for millions of people -during a heat wave. Those people are not adjusted at all. Their don’t don’t know how to live without AC. In fact, some die.
It’s like they’ve been living in an artificial northern climate. They are like snowbirds that fly down to Florida for a week’s vacation. After leaving the frozen north, 70 feels really warm. A Florida golf course owner told me when temperatures get to 80 or above business drops way down as they lose all their snowbird customers. It’s too hot for them to be chasing a little white ball around the grass.
Of course, when the grid goes down, more than AC is lost. All those electric labor saving devices no longer function. A person has more physical stuff to do just when it’s really hot to do it.
Some of the less affluent might have an advantage. They are the ones driving around in older cars with busted AC units. If they have AC at home, it’s set at higher temperature to save on the electric bill. They are more likely to have jobs requiring them to work outside in the sun.
If you’ve lived your life in the AC climate controlled bubble, and it suddenly goes away, don’t expect to adapt in a day. Take it easy. Realize it takes time to adjust. Drink water, stay out of the sun, move only during the cooler times of the day. Some areas establish cooling centers, places with running AC where people can spend the day. People with health problems should take advantage of them if they can.
People have gotten used to living in a constant temperature environment. When it’s hot out, there’s AC. Here in the north, it can be just as bad but at the other extreme. Some people go from their heated house to their heated car to their heated job. Many who live in northern climates lack a good pair of boots, a decent warm coat, or even warm hats and mittens.
Our modern technological world can be fragile on times. It can let you down just when you rely on it the most. Getting a bit more adapted to the natural world won’t hurt anybody, especially if done when it’s not an emergency. Consider it part of being prepared.