Sunday, November 9, 2014

Apartment/Condo Prepping Winterizing Tips

        My niece and I were talking a few days ago and the subject of prepping for the next cold wave came up.  I was surprised she had forgotten a few tips she had learned growing up.  It happens.  She's only just thirty years old and caught up in her life and living, she had forgotten a few things that would have made her winters in New York City a bit less harsh. 

     She forgot the water can on the heater, the bed liner the plastic on the windows and the instant scarf.  We always placed a large coffee can which we had plenty of on the back of the kerosene heater filled with water.  The windows were lined with plastic, the beds were made to keep the heat in and a blanket was sometimes a poncho or a scarf and a poncho.  

     Often in winter we can suffer from dry sinuses, dry throat, headaches  and dry skin. Fire, heat, any concentrated source of heat, dries the air. Water in the can evaporates and replaces some of the moisture the heater dries out.  For dry skin, we use a light moisturizer.  Something like Oil of Olay or its generic cousins.  A heavy cream can weigh down the skin outdoors and cause more damage than a little dry air.  for the headaches, colds that some from viruses lingering on dry nasal passages and sinus pain and headaches, the preventive measure is water.  

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     Add moisture to the air by providing moisture.  A humidifier is the modern just-plug-it-in solution.  But since the days of my Gram and the kerosene heater,we always had a can of water on the top of the heater.  The water was checked daily to keep the level high and to teach us the science of evaporation.  Yeah, we were shown the water levels and we even measured the rates of evaporation throughout the day.  (Nerd families!)

     There are a few other things you can put on a clunky old radiator to help your winter comfort.  Try a large pot used for making coffee.  Yup!  place the pot on the radiator at night before bedtime.  Make sure it is full to the brim.  Get up in the morning and you have water hot for tea, cocoa or coffee.  Acquire a piece of ceramic tile or fire brick.  On top of a radiator, it won't burn or melt and you can use it to keep your coffee warm.  Do NOT try to balance a cup, pan or muffin there!  The cup will spill, the pan will drop and the muffin will burn.  

Home Collection...
     The next tip she forgot was the bed liner.  You can buy a mattress cover for any price from twenty dollars to eighty.  Or, as I told my niece who is always strapped for cash, the everything for a dollar store offers a single layer of cover which is perfect for protecting the mattress from young bed wetters or insulating the mattress to keep your body heat from wicking away as you sleep.  If you can't find this item easily, try the bathroom department and choose a shower curtain liner.  It is a soft pliable plastic that won't make noise when you roll over on your mattress.  Place it on the mattress and below the sheet when making the bed.  I reminded her how we both hate to hit the sheets and be sandwiched in cold sheets waiting for them to warm up.  My trick to heat the sheets is to settle in, then I raise my foot about eight inches and suddenly drop it.  This releases my body heat into the bed, and creates a warm bed of air under the covers.  I do the same wit my arms.  I just raise them enough to clear my body but not enough to raise the top of the covers letting cold air in.  I heat up almost instantly and fall asleep.  

     Now, for the plastic on the windows.  We insulated drafty old wood framed farmhouses from the cold by stapling plastic to the interior of the windows to stave off drafts.  But, I have found a better easier tip.  It's bubble wrap!  It goes on easier than the old method involving staples and/or tape and it comes off better to be used again.   My niece pointed out it probably doesn't sound like a garrison flag flapping on the back porch.  We laughed. Our back porch made so much noise in the wind, a sudden draft against the loose plastic sounded like a gunshot!

     Every Christmas season there is a long line of non sewing geniuses trying to teach their children to make a gift instead of buying one all lined up at the fabric counter in my local fabric store.  They buy fleece to cut into fringed edges and give lap blankets or double lap blankets as gifts.  Splendid!  Extra fabric ready to make into an emergency poncho, a scarf or a head wrap and scarf.  It's just a wide strip of fleece cut and wrapped around the head or neck.  And, thanks to this years British fashion designers, a blanket over the shoulder is now urban cammo.  Stay warm and fit right in, it's no longer a sign of poverty fighting the cold.  It's fashion.Who knew?  


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