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"Unconscious woman suffered severe frostbite to hands and feet and may lose at least one of them."

Duluth student suffers severe frostbite, but survives frigid night on porch

Minnesota can be a very unforgiving place. Here are some thoughts on surviving, and being prepared to be irresponsible.

1. When a person is dropped off, wait until that person gets into the house. Always. A key can break off in the door or someone could slip on the ice. I'm sure the driver that dropped the UMD student off feels awful, so I don't want to dwell on this one too much.

2. If a person has been drinking, be prepared to help them from the car to the couch. Take care of people who are drunk, even if you're drunk yourself. Three people with half their wits about them equals 1.5 wits, probably enough to prevent three cases of hypothermia.

3. Wear your hat and mittens, even if you're just running from the car to the door. I'm sorry to say that this is one I break a lot. I think I'm going to put a string through my jacket to keep my mittens with me.

4. Think about risk assessment when your head is clear. What would you do if you were trapped outside in the cold? Bang on every door on the block? Break into a garage for shelter? Please, go ahead and break into my garage if you need to. I'll be pissed in the morning, and I'll want you to pay to fix the window, and there will be hassle and inconvenience. Fuck it, your fingers and toes are worth $200 and some hassle. The absolute worst case would be if I called the cops, and you made no plea agreement at all, you'd then be guilty of a misdemeanor. Your fingers and toes are worth $200, some hassle, and a few hours of community service. Eventually, we'll both have a colorful story, and all of our fingers and toes.

5. A cellphone is not enough of a contingency plan. Batteries are shit in the cold, something dropped in the snow in the dark is nearly impossible to find, and you may not have a good enough signal, even outdoors.

6. Keep emergency blankets in your car or your purse. Here are some for less than 70 cents each. They're very reflective and easily seen, and they're great insulation from radiant heat loss. If you need to use a blanket, try to get some insulation between the blanket and the ground if you can, the blankets are not good at retaining heat lost to conduction. Dollar Tree often stocks them, and they take up very little space. If they're in your car, there should be one per seat (a five passenger vehicle should have five blankets).

What are some other good rules for being prepared to be irresponsible?
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January 2017


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