Do you feel like it has been an endless rainy season in what is notoriously a dry season? You would be right. We have some of the oldest records for weather in the country right here in Mass. Blue Hill records date back to the late 1800’s and as of November 26, 2018 we had achieved the wettest fall on record. With more rain on the way it is shaping up to be a wet one.
This rain can have a big impact on winter storm damage to homes and businesses. How can that be you ask? Here are just a few examples.
Freezing: Water is unlike any other element on the planet. It expands as it cools rather than shrink. This causes all sorts of problems. If you have a small leak in the home from all this rain that is out of sight. When the cold weather sets in it will freeze. Many times, this freezing will occur and cause a lot of damage. Since water expands as it freezes any area that is saturated will expand either allowing more water in or cracking any materials that is stuck inside of. Be it a roof, wood framing, corner of a home or foundation, etc..
So, what can you do: Have a trusted contractor walk around the house look into the attic, basement, crawlspace and work on detecting anything out of the normal. Any edges of your home that show signs of rot, or water damage, Check inside the attic for any damp or wet insulation. Look in the crawl space for any signs of water coming through the foundation. Damage to any flooring, place any insulation over pipes that may have fallen off. Clear out all the gutters so that nothing is blocking the down spouts either from the top or at the output on the bottom.
Saturated soil: Soil that is unnaturally wet for extended periods of time can have damaging effects on trees. Many times, the roots have a hard time holding onto the soil and in high wind events can cause the tree to topple over many onto a home or car. There is also the effect water has on the roots themselves. If the tree is not prone to doing well in significantly wet soil the roots can start to rot. This rot can happen in even a healthy-looking tree causing it too to fall over.
So, what can you do: Walk your property ideally with a tree care professional. Have any leaders removed. Trim any branches that seem precarious. Inspect the trees and roots for any thing that looks like it will not hold during a storm.
Water intrusion: All this water has to go somewhere many times it does not have the ability to run off or be absorbed by the ground at the same rate when frost starts to set it. This allows the water to travel further than it normally would. Meaning there could be flooding events in areas that there are not normally any. It may also travel for a distance then a cold snap will freeze it in place. This causes a crack in a foundation. Allowing the warm air from your home to get out thawing out the water. This water will travel into your home as it thaws if left unnoticed you will have a major problem on your hands
As we continue to see rivers rise during a time of year that they normally slow to a trickle we have to be worried about what will happen. In the spring when all the snow melt, and runoff drains into already overloaded springs, streams, and rivers. We will see a lot more flooding events and now is the time to prepare.
Winter is not over yet folks.
It is New England and while the weather so far this season has lent itself to being a mild one we are not out of the woods yet. Typically a mild December lends itself to wild weather at the end of January and February. Many days have allowed those die hard New Englanders to continue to tough it out with shorts and tee shirts. That being said it is a good time for a reminder about how quickly our weather can change and what you can expect in the new two coming months.
This is a very big concern that many all too often through caution to the wind. We wear the shorts, do not use the gloves, grab the flip flops and socks (WHY WHY JUST WHY), those high fashion shoes that go with your outfit that you cannot even walk on and if it is not a baseball hat who needs it. Well you do!! We have had a lot of wind this season. The wind takes those mild temperatures we have had and drastically alters them. The wind pushes the air allowing it to move through clothing easier. It also brings the real feel temperature down. If you do not have the right clothing. When you are trying to look a part you run the risk of some very severe consequences.
What is frostbite and how to tell if you have it.
There are two stages to frostbite Superficial frostbite and traditional frostbite. With any frostbite the extremities are more susceptible. Fingers, toes, nose, ears, cheeks, and chins. Some of the first indicators of frostbite are extremities start to turn red. You may also have a feeling of pins and needles in the area being affected by the cold. It can start to sting, burn or even become itchy. Looking at the color is essential it can initially be red but will start to turn gray or white maybe even a little yellow looking as the tissue becomes more damaged. If you do not rectify these issues soon enough and in the right way your skin may start to become hard and feel waxy as the cold gets into the deep parts of the tissue. Blisters may start to form especially you try to warm up the affected area the improper way.
What you should do if you suspect you are getting frostbite. First and foremost get out of the cold. Get any wet clothes off, and also get any jewelry off as it will be cold. You can put the affected area into warm water between 100-105 degrees to warm it up slowly. You can also individually wrap the area with a gauze. If your hands or feet were affected it is important that you wrap each one separately. If you are unsure about how your feeling always check with a professional and seek out emergency help right away. Once color changes start to set in you can have permanent damage up to and including amputation.
This type of issue is much more drastic and affects the entire bodies core temperature when the core temperature drops to 95 and below is when trouble starts. The body tries to protect itself but routing blood to vital organs and extremities. This can result in a dangerous situation. As with any uncertainty it is imperative to seek out professional medical assistance. Until that happens there are steps you can take to help the person. Remove any wet clothes, get them into a warm environment. Surround them with warm layers of blankets and pillows for insulation. Make sure you are covering feet, hands, arms, head. It is also important to lay them down to make sure that the blood can flow easily and reduces how hard the heart has to work to move the blood around. Do not move anyone suspected of hypothermia too quickly because they are more susceptible to a cardiac event. Should something happen CPR may need to be administered until help arrives.
There are 3 stages of hypothermia they are all based on the ambient temperature of the body.
Mild: 90-95 degrees: The body tries to protect itself by increasing rate of breathing to pull in more oxygen to improve blood flow. It will also start to make you feel tired and fatigued so that major organs get more care. Blood pressure will tend to rise and shivering will commence. Coordination and judgment will begin to be impaired.
Moderate: 82.4-90 degrees: At this stage the blood pressure tends to start falling, your reflexes are more affected. Breathing heart rate and coordination become more labored and more difficult.
Severe: Less than 82.4 degrees: This is a highly critical stage in which breathing is much more difficult as the body tries to protect the brain. Your pupils will become less reactive heart attacks and full heart failure are more predominant at this point. Risk for a pulmonary edema is likely at this point.
Keep an eye out for any of these issues and try to get into a warm safe place as soon as possible. Once memory becomes impaired there is a tendency and desire to remove clothes. They can become combative and irrational.
While we are hardy New Englanders we can be too hardy and stubborn at time. The desire to look fashionable and show we can handle the cold. This can prove to have dire consequences. Please pay attention to the weather, include the wind chill in your assessment, stay alert (you are not being a baby), be smart. Making winter fun requires a little bit of safety awareness.
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