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Old 02-24-2015, 08:49 AM   #1
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Lucked out During the FREEZE

I just survived the worst 10 days in my Airstreaming life. Temperatures in the low teens down to zero, and me with a terrible (cold? flu? plague?)I was down HARD for 9 days. I am still a bit congested.

I live alone, fulltime, and suddenly I'm sick enough that it's a PROBLEM. Do I need one of those "I've fallen and I can't get up buttons?" Maybe it's time, but can they do "mobile?" Where do you GO in my situation when you look and feel like hell, but aren't quite sick enough to be in a hospital?

I have a new strategy for surviving "next time"

I basically abandoned my Airstream and stayed at my office - where we have 24/7 people who could call 911 if I'd gotten any worse. Taking Mucinex and gargling with Listerine (YUCK!) helped keep me coughing "productively" until I started healing. The alcohol burn of the original formula Listerine instantly creates mucus - nasty but you can cough it UP.

Stuff I realized:
  • be proactive - have a medicine cabinet full of everything you'll need for a severe cold/flu... you might be too sick to go TO the drug store
  • be rude to sick people who cough without a handkerchief. I'll wear a surgical mask next year and insist that people wash their hands before I shake hands with them.
  • get the pneumonia shot - only 50% chance you'll get one of the strains it covers, but probably still worth it
  • germs cause illness not the weather, avoid crowds in the cold season
  • eschew junk food, good nutrition won't make you bullet proof, but being under the weather vs. being on death's door?
  • have your Airstream ready for a DISASTER in bad weather

I got very very lucky with my Airstream. I could have ended up with frozen pipes and burst water heater if the power had failed. I was nearly out of propane, and only due to the kindness of a work camper, did I get someone to go to the trailer, take the tanks to the refill station, and put them back on. I'd set up two small space heaters on low because it was too cold for the heatpump to work, but a power outage would have cut them off. When I came back they hadn't failed but it could have gone SO wrong. The only thing I'd done right was to turn off the water and disconnect the supply hose.

PLAN FOR NEXT YEAR:

I'll get an ugly old 100 lb tank and hook it up for the two months I'm in winter quarters. This will back up the two regular 30 lb tanks.

I will have a RUNNING space heater aimed directly at the door. When I went back to my trailer the door was covered with ice. I literally had to "crack the shell" of ice to get the door open. How would YOU like to be using a spare tire wrench trying to break the ice without denting the aluminum? Luckily most of it slid off in one or two big sheets. Waxing the Airstream might help with this.

Guess what happens when the ice storm covers all of the refrigerator's outside vents? Rotten lettuce and grapes anyone? All I salvaged was a bottle of vodka kept in the freezer, one bottle of wine in the bottom drawer, one bottle of balsamic vinegar that hadn't been opened yet.

Maintenance work - replace the cheap plastic low point drains with good easy to grip metal ones, and mark them clearly so someone else can find and drain them if necessary. Ditto for the water tank.

HAVE A BUCKET OF SAND OR KITTY LITTER - why? Ice covered steps to get into or out of the Airstream. Sharpened stick or ski poles - walking over an ice crust to the truck. Rubber mallet, "massaging" Ice off of your steps, the car door, the Airstream door, etc.

Most important - hitch up and head for Key West before this s*** hits!

Paula
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Old 02-24-2015, 09:03 AM   #2
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I am glad you are doing better. I have thought of getting one of the 100lb tanks. We have a Costco and they will fill it for about $45. If you go to a propane dealer they would want $100. That furnace will suck a 30lb dry in a couple days.

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Old 02-24-2015, 09:07 AM   #3
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Do I need one of those "I've fallen and I can't get up buttons?" Maybe it's time, but can they do "mobile?"

Jitterbug offers a mobile help button with their cellphone service. Haven't tried it yet, but they do say it's mobile. I'm sure this is within cell tower coverage, though.
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Old 02-24-2015, 09:29 AM   #4
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Glad you're on the mend, Paula. Those who live by themselves have a few more "what if" things to think about than those who have someone else with them. Most of us don't think about the times we are alone until something happens. Planning ahead is a good thing.
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Old 02-24-2015, 09:31 AM   #5
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Wow, scary situation, Paula! Glad it ended as well as it did. Definitely a wise move to use it as a way to improve your "nest".

It just struck me that you are slowly amassing the information to write a super book!
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Old 02-24-2015, 09:36 AM   #6
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i seem to remember lewster posting that there is a setting on the fridge that keeps the interior light on to heat up the fridge interior. if the fridge temp drops below a certain point it thinks it has no need to run.

give the door gasket a fresh coat of silicone before the freeze. heater pointed at the door might make it sweat more.
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Old 02-24-2015, 09:44 AM   #7
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Hate to be the downer here and certainly sorry you were sick but is exposing your fellow employees to your serious illness the prudent thing to do?
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Old 02-24-2015, 11:47 AM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Foiled Again View Post
I live alone, fulltime, and suddenly I'm sick enough that it's a PROBLEM. Do I need one of those "I've fallen and I can't get up buttons?" Maybe it's time, but can they do "mobile?" Where do you GO in my situation when you look and feel like hell, but aren't quite sick enough to be in a hospital?
I've been single all my adult life, and it's every bit as much a problem in a stick-and-brick home as it is as a full-time RVer. Take a Red Cross first aid course. There are a lot of first aid treatments that you can administer to yourself if need be.
Quote:
be proactive - have a medicine cabinet full of everything you'll need for a severe cold/flu... you might be too sick to go TO the drug store
A "marine trauma" first aid kit supplemented by over-the-counter medications is a good idea. "Marine Trauma" kits (West Marine sells a good one) start from the assumption that trained medical aid is many miles away. It may not just be that you're too sick to travel; you might be too injured to get yourself to medical aid as well. Especially true if boondocking.
Side note: Even though I'm a lifelong bachelor, I supplement my first-aid kit with some Kotex pads. Best emergency bandages to be found anywhere, designed to soak up blood without the blood soaking through. Advice given to me by a paramedic who was teaching us a workplace safety course on avoiding blood-borne pathogens. Actually got a chance to put it into practice once when a coworker accidentally amputated the tip of one finger with a circular saw.
Quote:
be rude to sick people who cough without a handkerchief. I'll wear a surgical mask next year and insist that people wash their hands before I shake hands with them
Disposable dust masks from Home Depot work just as well, and may be cheaper. But as for the hand-washing, it's unfair to put the burden on others. Carry a pocket-sized bottle of hand sanitizer, and wash your own hands with it after shaking hands.
Quote:
germs cause illness not the weather, avoid crowds in the cold season
Sudden changes in the weather don't cause illness, but they can reduce your resistance to illness by throwing your metabolism out of whack.
Quote:
have your Airstream ready for a DISASTER in bad weather
My Airstream is part of my bug-out kit for hurricane evacuations, so keeping it stocked is second nature for me. And that includes a supply of trail mix and other munchies that are nutritious but requires no cooking at all, not even microwaving. Hot food may be a comfort while you're sick, but not if you have to stand there and heat it yourself instead of being in bed where you belong.
Quote:
PLAN FOR NEXT YEAR:
I'll get an ugly old 100 lb tank and hook it up for the two months I'm in winter quarters. This will back up the two regular 30 lb tanks.
Backwards. Use the 100-pound tank as the main tank, and the 30 lb tanks as backup. That way the 100-pound tank is more likely to be empty by the time you're ready to leave winter quarters.
Quote:
When I went back to my trailer the door was covered with ice. I literally had to "crack the shell" of ice to get the door open. How would YOU like to be using a spare tire wrench trying to break the ice without denting the aluminum?
A plastic ice scraper, just like you use on your tow vehicle windshield, should work just as well on your trailer, with much less risk of dents; though there still might be a risk of scratches. But a "heated" windshield scraper, that you can plug into your tow vehicle power outlet, would make a faster job of it. You can get extension cords for 12v power outlets if your heated scraper cord won't reach from where you have to park. Though I've lived on the Gulf Coast for more than half my life, I still have a heated scraper for traveling to colder climes.
Quote:
Guess what happens when the ice storm covers all of the refrigerator's outside vents? Rotten lettuce and grapes anyone?
A 12v Dometic portable refrigerator might help with that. They make three different sizes that I know of; I have the smallest size to provide cold soft drinks while I'm driving since I can't reach the Airstream's fridge from the driver's seat. And best of all, it came with not only a 12v power cord, but also a 120v adapter so I can plug it in at home to pre-cool— or use it as a supplement to my Airstream's dorm-size refrigerator. If you have a portable fridge, you can simply shut off the built-in one if you're expecting ice.
Quote:
HAVE A BUCKET OF SAND OR KITTY LITTER - why? Ice covered steps to get into or out of the Airstream.
Kitty litter, definitely. It works as well as sand for providing traction, but can also be used to soak up spills of RV antifreeze, motor oil, gasoline, and what-have-you. It is designed to be absorbent, you know! You can even use it in the event of an accident while dumping your black tank, to make the mess a bit less offensive to clean up.

On the subject of absorbency, for big jobs forget paper towels. There is nothing in the world more absorbent than a disposable diaper. As with the maxi-pads, the stuff soaks in without soaking through. We've used disposable diapers for cleaning up small hydraulic oil spills at work and they work well.
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Old 02-24-2015, 12:08 PM   #9
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at home we keep our sick bag of food, crackers, chicken soup, ginger ale and real coke to flatten and smoother.
We also have all the cold remedies, and keep doses in the sick bag. Paula your tips were all great.

That is some illness not bacteria related. Glad you are better.
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Old 02-24-2015, 12:44 PM   #10
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I caught a dose of the crud from Chili Charlie's Tuesday taco nite back on 1/27. Overheard a waitress/collage student, something about can't afford to take time off because of illness.
Next day I was loading up to go kayaking, along with a migraine style headache with increasing pain, I bailed @ 1 pm. Then the flem started flying that nite, now I'm only 95% good.
I was surprised on how "small" my rig got, the old 40'er not so bad. I can't see being a couple in this thing, & sick, nowhere to hide. I wanted to hide from myself!
I did spend two years in Flagstaff, (40'er), the "snowman", 100 gal propane tank was very handy. rented it from the propane delivery guy that serviced the park, worth it, kept the 8' gas line, screws into the regulator.
Got the ice storm once, refer would quit @ 5*, colder outside than the heat exchanger would work, incadesent bulb to heat the short section of fresh water line that would freeze between the heat tape/coach.
Wouldn't do winters like that with this colder AS.
Even though we got snow on 12/31, it has been warmer than normal out here on the west coast of Az. Even to the point of running the ac set @ 80*

Not bragging, just sayin'
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Old 02-24-2015, 01:57 PM   #11
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Don't shake hands with people. When we visited our doctor to get flu shots last fall, we got a fist bump. He says it transfers less germs. Also, don't touch your face, eyes, nose or mouth; as these areas are highly susceptible to germs.

When we exited the building, my wife and I immediately used hand sanitizer. By the way, we aren't germaphobes. However, many patients are there because they're sick; so it just seems like common sense.

For non-emergency care, many health care and insurance companies now have "urgent care" facilities for handling colds, stitches and minor stuff. Also, in Phoenix, many Walmart Supercenters, Walgreens, CVS, etc., have on-site nurse practitioners who treat colds and minor problems. Plus, the pharmacy and OTC meds are right there.

Paula, hope you're feeling better soon...
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Old 02-24-2015, 03:20 PM   #12
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Yikes, Paula!

Sorry for that nasty illness, and glad you are on the mend.

Sounds like the stars were in your favor re the trailer, in that nothing seriously went wrong in your absence and you had neighbors to help.

Being alone when you are really ill must be dreadful, and going into your office sounds like it was an excellent plan.

Were that not an option, I wonder how quickly a Doctor could write an order for some sort of home health care? Someone to check in on you, take your temp, etc., who would know if you needed an increased level of care.


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Old 02-26-2015, 10:21 AM   #13
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Eddie Bauer - reality vs the vision.

Dear Protag - thanks for the tip about the marine disaster kit. There's a West Marine about 1/2 mile from here, I'll be there when they re-open (we have another storm & six inches of snow on the ground... that closes a city in the south DOWN). Also you're right about using the 100 lb tank as the primary. I'll definitely have to get a local propane co. to furnish and refill one regardless of the price. It's still a LOT cheaper than re-plumbing the Airstream and as a full timer where would I store a big tank? Plus there could be the "I've fallen with the tank on top of me, and I can't get up" scenario. I miss being young and strong and well-nigh bulletproof, but I'm glad I have most of my marbles left and can admit that there are a lot of SMART compromises that will allow me to enjoy the "titanium years" (the golden years have given way to titanium for the knees, elbows, etc. according to PrudencePB, my sister.)

Note: bringing my sick self to work. 1) guess where I caught this crud? 2) I HID in my corner office, and Lysol'ed the bathroom religiously. Note: Lysol the seat, but then dry it off with a paper towel if someone is waiting eagerly to use the facilities!
----------------

Here's another "I hate to admit it but". The Eddie Bauer is so COOL! It's effen frigid in winter, even compared to the bare walls Safari Special Edition. If I had it to do over I'd say NOPE, NOT a good full time rig if you're going to have any WINTER in your life. I don't want to say I'm "stuck" in mine, but it would be accurate to say that my new Indian Name might be "Sleeps with Prodex! I started out by using some reflective windshield covers and adapting them to fit the wrap around windows in the bedroom... I've since bought a huge "garage door kit" of Prodex and am making "winter living" changes to the EB. Come milder weather I may actually disassemble the rear hatch and see if I can re-insulate (or maybe even just INSULATE) the whole thing with Prodex. Between now and then, I'll Velcro a Prodex cover over the whole thing. I get ice on the inside of the window right now. Here's the "winter cocoon" version of the EB. Make a Prodex curtain that is velcroed behind the garage door & leave in place 12 months. It needs to cover the whole area below the bedframe. That's going to be fun installing - I think I'll yank the mattress off and unscrew the plywood on the bed. I already made lower wall liner for the rest of the bedroom from some machine quilted fabric I had - it hangs from clear plastic Command hooks placed at about 1 foot intervals along the walls (really simple to make - and in spring should store nicely in a vacuum space bag) The curved side windows in the bedroom - simply used bubble windshield covers, cut them to fit the window, slid them behind the curtains - used command adhesive to stick directly to the frames on the top (loose on bottom to check for condensation!) Didn't do the window at the bottom of the bed or the center window, just to avoid having a cave... but the one at the head of the bed is the next target! I must have flipped a pillow over in my sleep and it was so damn cold it woke me up with a shock two days ago. The little bottom one is going DARK for the duration.

I'm seriously wondering if I should simply put Prodex in the back of all of the overhead cabinets. I don't see why not as there are no water lines that might freeze as a result - and it could stay there year around. (Note I use "dead" space in my bedroom closet - I put a cargo net in the top of the closet, and stored my socks and undies there. I found out that I need to pull out the undies and set them on the bed before I take my shower to avoid an unpleasant shock! brrrrrrrr!)

I haven't done so much to the living area except for the fan and skylight. The hatch is the next target, and the curved windows aren't far behind. I'll probably leave the big windows alone because they are south facing and do gain some heat during the day. But since the first big freeze I seem to have a new problem. The bottom of the door is now standing out about 1/4 inch. I'm guessing that the icing and dripping and icing again has actually pushed the door out of alignment, and I can definitely feel a draft coming from there. Yuck. I know it is a bad idea to have everything hermetically sealed because of condensation and the need for fresh air, but I'm kinda stuck living with this until the temperature will allow me to work with an open door for an hour or so. Any chance this is just the lock pin in the frame getting a little loose? BTW, I did notice that just closing the sliding panel on the screen cuts some of the obvious breeze. Wish I'd made the lexan "storm windows" for the screen too. If all else fails, there will be some kind of velcroed curtain hanging inside that door until spring.

I've always made up a winter water hose (foam insulation and a heat tape along the hose) but I worry about it's reliability. Power outage when I'm not there? Frozen pipes aren't cheap. Better to disconnect the water hose whenever I leave the area. I always carry a gallon or two of water in bottles in the rig. Should keep an extra gallon or two on hand. Worst case I can still drink, flush and even sponge bathe with water heated on the hob.

Paula
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Old 02-26-2015, 11:20 AM   #14
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Sleeping in microfleece, with heavy socks, does wonders for keeping one warm during terribly cold nights in our Airstreams.

Silk long underwear does the same, for cold of lesser depths.


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