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Stay Warm, Stay Alive!

December 20, 2010
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Special to Camping Life by Brian Brawdy

With the days grown short and the mercury having retreated from its summertime highs, most living things have changed their behavior and prepared for the wild winter weather ahead. It’s that time of year.

We humans have two choices. We can basically hibernate, hunkering down in our homes longing for the days of spring, or you can stand and face winter full-on. Now, if an early onset of cabin fever isn’t for you, then you’re with me. I love the challenge of plummeting Fahrenheit. Facing winter’s full punch is the only way to go.

That said, freezing temperatures can be deadly if you take them for granted or fail to prepare for sub-zero conditions. Any threat to your 98.6-degree body temperature can ultimately be fatal. So what can we do to survive the frigid months ahead?

Believe it or not, beating winter begins in your brain. It’s a mindset, once you master a plan and a simple secret. Staying warm in winter comes down to knowing and employing this one tiny bit of tucked away survival knowledge. Winter-proofing your body and your home depends on this forgotten expertise.

Surviving winter comes down to keeping your heat in, NOT keeping the cold out — period. Whether you’re hiking, backpacking, camping, RVing, or even in your home, trapping your heat in is the key to beating the cold. A warm body, any warm body attempts to donate its heat to the colder environment surrounding it; in this instance it pays off to be selfish and miserly. When it comes to freezing, only the uncharitable win.

Ask yourself, “Where am I losing heat?” and “How can I trap it?” If you’re hiking you focus on a hat, scarf, waterproof gloves and boots along with a sturdy coat. In an RV trailer you must use insulation of a different fashion.

1) Reflective Bubble Insulation: Silver sheets that come in rolls. Perfect for fitting, cutting and placing on interior walls where heat might try to escape.

2) 3M Window Insulation: It’s a great way to trap heat around windows yet still allowing the radiant heat from the sun to enter. Keep the hair dryer needed to secure the window film handy – we’ll get to it in a bit.

3) Door Trim Insulation: This fills the cracks where heat can pour out if let unchecked.

4) Better Tanks: Professionally manufactured propane tanks are a must. I use Manchester Tanks exclusively. They are the sturdiest and safest tanks I’ve found, and won’t freeze up.

5) Ultra Heat Wraps: UltraHeat 12-volot heater wraps round out my RV “apparel.” I use them in a variety of locations in both of my RVs to keep sensitive components warmed up so they don’t freeze.

6) A standby hairdryer is the final piece of gear. Sometimes water lines can get a bit chunky. Hitting them with a quick blast of heat from a hair dryer can make all the difference between a flushing toilet and a slushy backflow.

As winter settles in, there is little need to go dormant. With the proper attitude and a few pieces of specific gear, the snowy, icy, frigid months can be a time of great adventure and exploration.

Visit Brian’s website, www.brianbrawdy.com, for more great information on survival through self-reliance.

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