CityOpinion

Burlap sack: The cold

We all like to complain about the unpleasantness of winter, but these extreme temperatures are also a danger to our safety and well-being.

I cannot be the only one thinking: “what is up with this cold? And is it ever going to go away?”

If there is one thing I am grateful for during these times, it is that we conveniently don’t have to commute to school since the semester was temporarily shifted to online delivery. That being said, people have to go outside eventually, either to get groceries or go walk their pets and get minimal vitamin D from sun exposure. Due to the cold, the new year starts off in a terrible way, with dangerous roads, broken down cars, and potential health risks — giving everyone a bad taste in their mouth about 2022.

Look, I get it. We are in Canada, and of course, in the Great White North, we are obligated to have colder seasons and lower temperatures. Instead of just getting up and going in the morning, you have to either plug in your car the night before or a few hours before you leave, otherwise your battery may die from being too cold. 

Without these winters, we would not be able to enjoy the many fun things about winter like skiing, snowboarding, and city festivals like GLOW Edmonton. Having consistent cold snaps, however, is enough to drive people insane — especially if they have to commute to work for an important meeting or write an exam and their car won’t start.

Without taking proper precautions to ensure that your vehicle is ready for the Alberta winter roads, it can lead to nasty maintenance and repair bills. It is recommended to use synthetic oil to help your engine turn over even in the coldest temperatures. Additionally, it is a good idea to double-check that your gas tank is filled more than halfway, otherwise you may have to look into purchasing gas-line antifreeze. This is crucial, especially if you don’t have consistent parking spots in a heated garage. Tires also need to be inflated properly because they lose pressure when subject to the cold. 

I have not met anyone that looks forward to these expensive extra precautions — especially after Christmas.

The cold does not just impact traveling accommodations, there is so much more it can do, such as potentially damaging everyone’s health. During such cold temperatures, it is recommended to dress warmly when outside. This includes having proper winter boots, a winter jacket, hat, gloves, scarf — basically, the whole ensemble. When the university goes back to in-person classes, these cold snaps may cause students to be subjected to extreme temperatures if exposed to the cold for long periods of time, especially those that have to take transit to get to school, such as myself. 

Even when dressed properly for the weather while waiting for the bus, being in -40 C to -50 C weather is extremely dangerous because you can potentially get frostnip which can lead to frostbite — a common occurrence in the past few weeks. The only way to stay warm is to limit the amount of time spent outside and keep moving constantly, like an emperor penguin.

Lastly, this cold can affect one’s mental health. We are about to head into the second year of COVID-19. The university has us attending classes online for three weeks and many of us spent most of our time cooped up in our homes over the holidays as cases rose. The cold snaps just kept us inside to take away any last stitch of freedom we would get to go outside — even for a small walk. Having that little break helps your mental well-being, especially if you are grinding through never-ending assignments, or when life just gets to you and you need to step back from it all. Everyone just needs to have that moment to breathe, but the cold suffocates us on top of everything else that is happening.

In general, these cold snaps are making everyone’s life more difficult than they should be. Cooler temperatures can affect the mental and physical health of an individual and cause hurdles in one’s day-to-day life. We should take a moment to acknowledge that there is a light at the end of the tunnel; the cold snap is finally ending this week and the weather is warming up. 

That being said, we have to remain vigilant — we are not out of the woods completely since winter is not done just yet. We have to keep our guard up and remain prepared for when the temperatures inevitably drop again.

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