Floridians Have Thinner Blood- Cold Weather Tips


• Wear a hat and gloves and keep your feet warm. Dress in layers.

• Follow portable heater instructions carefully. Take the word “space” literally. Keep the heating unit 3 feet from other objects to avoid starting a fire. Avoid using older units that don’t have a tip-over switch. These switches are a safety feature that turn off the unit if it falls over. Check that the cords are not frayed or damaged. Do not use with extension cords. Kerosene heaters must be used in large rooms with a steady air supply. Use in small, sealed rooms risks carbon monoxide poisoning.

• Don’t put them near flammable materials, such as beds and clothes. Use a good extension cord, not a flimsy or torn one. If using kerosene heaters, open a window for ventilation. Make sure heating units that have not been used recently are grease- and dust-free before they are turned on.


• Use appliances and heaters sparingly. The power surge can cause a blackout. Try not to use appliances from 6 a.m. to 10 a.m., or 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. Florida Power and Light suggests that instead of turning the heat down at night, keep it at the same level– four degrees lower than usual– all day.

• Never use charcoal grills for heat inside. Fumes are deadly.

Your pets

• Bring them inside.

• If you don’t let your pet inside, make sure there is a place out of the cold and wind where it can sleep.

Your plants

• Bring in potted plants.

• Give extra protection by covering them with burlap or another fibrous cloth. Don’t cover them with plastic because it draws heat from plants. If the plant is too big, douse the ground around it with water before nightfall. Cold-tolerant plants left outside include junipers, hollies, ligustrums.

• Don’t worry about citrus trees or hardy vegetables such as broccoli, but irrigating or covering them won’t hurt as long as there is no water sitting on the plants overnight.

• During the day before a possible freeze, get as much water into the ground as you can but don’t get water on the plant after sunset. While commercial growers sometimes turn on sprinklers to protect plants during a freeze, it can backfire and ruin plants if you don’t know exactly when to turn them on and off.

If your plants have suffered damage from the cold, these steps might help:

• After the cold has passed, resist the temptation to prune cold-damaged plants for a few days until the full extent of the damage is known. Wait a few days and see how the plant recovers. You may only need to trim away damaged parts

• Check the plant’s buds if leaves have shed because of the cold. The plant should be fine if the buds are still green.

• Give the plant only moderate amounts of water. If possible, keep exposure to the sun to a minimum.

Your heater

Even if the heater isn’t on all the time, heating your home can be two to three times more expensive than cooling it. Florida Power & Light Co. offers some ways to keep your bill down during a cold snap:

• Keep the thermostat set at 68 degrees or lower and adjust it to 65 degrees when going to sleep or when you are away from your home. Keep air filters clean to help make the heating unit run more efficiently, and do not turn up the thermostat to heat your home faster -that doesn’t work.

• Turn off all nonessential lights and things such as pool pumps. Use dishwashers and other major appliances only when necessary. Try to refrain from taking longer showers, which people often do when the weather is cold.

• Close windows and blinds to hold heat in. Also, use ceiling fans to distribute heat around a room.

• Use space heaters, but be careful: Use the proper fuel and read the instructions before turning one on. Keep space heaters away from curtains, bed linens, furniture and anything else combustible. Keep heaters away from water to avoid electric shock and make sure they automatically shut off if tipped over. Use a good extension cord, not a flimsy or torn one.

• Don’t sleep in any room with an unvented gas or kerosene space heater. Keep children away from space heaters, and turn them off before you leave the room for a long period of time.

How to dress warmly

• Dress in layers. The more, the better. They trap insulating air when you’re cold and are easy to peel when it gets warm.

• Start light and go heavy – Say a T-shirt, a shirt, a sweater.

• Silk may be thin, but it’s great at keeping you warm.

• Long underwear is a good layer too, if you own it.

• If you’re going to work up a sweat, like go skiing for example, (unlikely here, but just for discussion) cotton is not the best first layer because you will sweat and then the cotton will hold on to it.

• Wool and down make great outter layers.

• Cover your head, even if it doesn’t feel cold. Your body is sending heat there to insulate your brain. When that heat gets there, keep it there.

• Now is not the time for open-toe shoes. Keep feet warm by layering there too… wear both socks and shoes.

• A scarf isn’t just a fashion statement, it fills the space between the coat collar and the hat you’re going to wear.

• Turtle neck shirts and raised collars also suit this purpose.

Do Floridians actually have thinner blood?

It’s as predictable as January following December. When the season’s first blast of wintry air arrives, northern and midwestern transplants lament how, having become South Floridians, their “blood has thinned,” rendering them less tolerant of cold weather. So, is this a real phenomenon or old wives’ tale?

The latter, according to Dr. Ashok Kumar, a professor of family and community medicine at the University of Texas Health Science Center. “What happens when you go to a cold climate, the blood viscosity – the technical term for the thickness – doesn’t change,” he said. However, at high altitudes, where it often is colder, your blood can thicken as it produces more red blood cells. But, said Kumar, “It’s not the temperature doing it — it’s the altitude.”

Kumar and other experts tend to agree: The human body simply becomes accustomed to the temperatures it’s most often exposed too – and unaccustomed to the ones it’s not.


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