To think that British people need to get better at winter?

(279 Posts)
honeytea Sat 01-Dec-12 16:40:01

I have noticed lots of people worrying about the cold weather and their DC coming to harm due to eating/sleeping/playing outside.

I am confused as to why in a country that we all know has miserable weather for much most of the year some children don't have clothing that enables them to spend time outside. The risk of vitamin D deficiency, the higher chance of getting ill when inside and childhood weight issues could all be made better if kids were encouraged to spend more time outside.

I know it isn't all families, I have just been supprised at the amount of people worrying about thier children being damaged by winter weather. It doesn't even get very cold in the UK, nothing a pair of breathable woolen thermal underwear and a good coat/all in one wouldn't solve.

I am British but I now live in Sweden, here the kids at daycare/school have to spend at least 2 hours outside by law, it doesn't matter if it is raining, snowing or -10 the kids are still out playing/eating/sleeping. The schools only shut due to weather when the temp drops below -40.

AIBU to think that we need to get better at winter, it does after all happen every year for about 6 months

spoonsspoonsspoons Fri 07-Dec-12 18:13:55

I can still remember on one occasion where it snowed and it had originated in Siberia. You couldn't build anything with it which was rather disappointing, just throw handfuls of the stuff around. It was a novelty to come inside and find you weren't soaked through after playing in the snow though.

Acekicker Fri 07-Dec-12 18:00:42

Fair enough fryone, I'm used to people claiming it's illegal to clear the snow in the UK (had a colleague tell me that only this week) which frustrates me no end after having seen it all done properly in Germany so I took your post the wrong way - sorry.

AndABigBirdInaPearTree Fri 07-Dec-12 17:45:26

In the states you are usually liable for snow removal from public areas around your house. In many municipalities if you don't remove the snow from the footpath then they can do it and charge you for the cost. Many people that can't or don't want to do it will pay either an enterprising teen or a company to do it for them. I have stayed with families and when it snows everyone goes and shovels. It took all of us about 3/4 hour to clear a driveway and footpath.

Salt and grit aren't the same thing. Often in areas that stay below -10 will put grit or sand down for traction but not salt.

One thing that I see that is really different here is that people prepare their cars better. It is common practise to carry a small shovel, a bag of cat litter and tire chains/cables in the back of the car for if it gets really bad. In some areas you are required to carry chains and the police can make you put them on and will stop you to check. They also prepare themselves better. My snowboots have crazy amounts of tread on them and many people have studs that they can fit over their shoes/boots for when it gets icy.

Mathanxiety, Utah snow is known for being dry and power, but I have pictures of my kids building snowmen (in bare feet, crazy kids!). Graupel on the other hand is no use to kids, but is a lot easier to clear so I prefer it!

FryOneFatChristmasTurkey Fri 07-Dec-12 17:40:49

Acekicker I know about the guidance, but I also know some arseholes who do clear paths badly, which is why I said you can be liable.

I carefully clear my path whenever necessary, and have not yet seen any need to pour water on it...

Going back to an earlier comment of mine about the sheet of ice on the road, seems the extension built on the house opposite this summer has had an unexpected consequence. I can see water welling up from beneath the pavement and trickling across the road in the same way as the water ran when the previous householder washed his car. I may need to contact the water company for advice. We are definitely going to get some ice on the road at some point.

mathanxiety Fri 07-Dec-12 17:30:37

As I see it, councils can spend money keeping roads clear or they can take their chances with local tax money and hope there won't be a massive pileup that would require spending money on emergency services. Either way it is going to cost the locals. I would prefer to see money spent to prevent tragedy instead of clearing up the aftermath.

Acekicker Fri 07-Dec-12 17:30:04

fryone That's only true if you clear it like an idiot, eg by pouring water on which then refreezes and creates a nice ice rink! The Government guidance has made it clear for the last couple of years that sensible clearing ie shovel/brush the snow then salt it is fine. HSE and RoSPA both also say similar and point out that individuals have a responsibility to take care themselves on paths even if they look clear. Unfortunately the myth that if you clear it and someone slips you will be sued seems to be too deeply entrenched.

mathanxiety Fri 07-Dec-12 17:27:47

LittenTree -- there are many different textures of snow in the US depending on where you live and even in one place you can get different textures/weights/ water content depending on where the snow comes from/what weather systems produce it. Sometimes a change of wind direction during a single snowstorm will produce different kinds of flakes with varying moisture content.

In the great lakes area 'lake effect' snow is always wet, sometimes too slushy to even make a snowman but normally it is ideal building snow. The small pellets that accompany a blizzard (normally sweeping in from the west, northwest or southwest) will normally make good building snow once settled and especially if the temp changes upwards.

You see plenty of snowmen, but after the third or fourth storm children get tired of them and turn to forts or sledding. Plus, schools tend not to close and so homework and life in general (normally involving indoor sports or dance or music practice) go on. There isn't the mad frenzy of excitement and 'Gotta get out and build' impulse when snow arrives. Snow is predictable and it lies on the ground for a few months a year. There is plenty of time to get around to that snowman before the end of March.

In the northern midwest US city where I lived you could be held liable for slip and fall accidents if you cleared your sidewalk. Britain is not the only place where liability laws make little sense. However the municipal authorities reminded residents and businesses every year to clear the sidewalks and in 99% of cases the desire to be good neighbours overcame the fear of any kind of liability. While the theory was that you could be sued, most people living there would not sue unless they were spectacularly curmudgeonly.

FryOneFatChristmasTurkey Fri 07-Dec-12 16:25:52

While elsewhere it's considered the proper, even legal, thing to sweep your path clear of snow, in the UK liability seems turned on it's head. If you clear away snow here, you can end up being more liable for an accident than if you leave the snow alone.

ouryve Fri 07-Dec-12 16:17:43

And I don't know where you live, - OK - just reread. Definitely not up here where we had so much snow for so long.

ouryve Fri 07-Dec-12 16:14:58

Littentree - we didn't manage to achieve the essential journey of getting the kids to school today because of the ice. We didn't get very far before DS1, who has ASD, started to panic and we then found out that the road further down was even icier, so turned back before HE melted or one of us hurt ourselves because it was so slippery and he was beginning to flounder.

And I think it's rather offensive to suggest that pensioners are only off buying cat food. They need to buy fresh bread and milk like anyone else, plus withdraw money to top up their electric meters etc. Many elderly people here live pretty much hand to mouth, so there's no chance on them stocking up on food early if they don't have the cash in hand to do that.

And I don't know where you live, Littentree, but we had 2 winters in a row when we had snow or ice on the ground for over a month. The council ended up having to get farmers out with snow ploughs on their tractors so that they could get lorries through to empty the bins.

And even in a utopia where everyone has huge stores of food and can work from home, emergency services still need to get through to do their jobs. People still need to get to medical appointments they may already have been waiting for for several months. NEDL still need to get to power lines brought down by the snow and ice so that people can keep their electricity supplies. Many people can't afford the loss of income that comes with people not being able to get out. Gritting major roads is a pretty big priority.

IloveJudgeJudy Fri 07-Dec-12 15:24:05

In fact, I checked online and the airports that were having trouble were in Stockholm, Geneva, Paris, Munich and Amsterdam!

IloveJudgeJudy Fri 07-Dec-12 12:37:50

I thought of this thread when I listened to the news this morning. Flights to Europe were delayed because of snow in Europe, not here! So Europe can also be caught out! I agree with the poster who said we don't get snow regularly enough to invest millions in equipment. Don't need winter tyres either as our winters aren't cold enough. One last thing - DB was in a part of France where there's skiing and the roads, etc were shut cos of adverse weather.

honeytea Fri 07-Dec-12 12:10:24

I have not seen any snowmen, but I did see a snow penis, much more fun!

LittenTree Fri 07-Dec-12 12:06:27

"It's not just a bit inconvenient though, is it? People have car crashes and get injured or worse, and even walking on icy pavements means that you can slip and break a bone. I don't think it's unreasonable to think that councils should make an effort to stop that happening.".... yes, but the reasons people give as to why they were out and about when 'the authorities' have asked that only essential journeys be made are gob-smacking. Driving slowly through Winchester, a couple of winters ago, on my essential journey to work as a front line HCP, I counted an alarming number of pensioners tottering along, slippy sliding, presumably to get Tiddles catfood BUT the snow hadn't arrived unannounced, it had been predicted for at least 24 hours. There were people on bikes weaving in and out of cars, there were people staggering to semi-snowed in cars, laden with Xmas shopping. 2 days later it was all gone!

Re making people sweep the pavement outside their house (as in Germany)- somewhere way earlier I detailed how me and another au pair used to do that in Bavaria as teenagers. Took half an hour to sweep the powder snow off the length of the pavement outside our Gasthof. 2 English winters ago, it took me well over an hour to chip through the inch of ice beneath the snow on my drive to cut a foot wide path, 10 yards long to the road outside.

A test: How many snowmen do you see in continental Europe (or central USA for that matter)? Practically none. Why? Because the snow is so dry and cold it doesn't stick together. English snow does. Because it's only a couple of degrees below freezing and, at some stage during that day, the temperature is likely to rise above zero, before freezing that melt water again overnight.

Personally I'd prefer the council not to spend thousands of pounds maintaining a fleet of snow ploughs but only emptying my often stinking general waste bin fortnightly in summer. My bin will smell every summer; my road won't get snowed under every winter.

mathanxiety Thu 06-Dec-12 21:52:23

The temp under the snow remains at freezing point but not much lower. In the midwest US snowbelt salt trucks go out in fleets and salt streets and highways when snow is expected, with the hope of keeping it from sticking and making the ploughs' job esaier. The presence of salt makes refreezing a slower process. A lot of the time it is not going to go down below -10 C anyway, so salt is pretty effective.

redlac, there is such a law in Germany: people are responsible to clear the pavements outside their houses. If they don't, they are liable if somebody falls and hurts themselves. I used to wake up in the morning during snowy winters to the sound of my dad' snow shovel scraping away smile.

Salt only works to a certain temperature; it cannot replace actually removing snow. The problem is not so much fresh snow, but half-melted slush that then freezes.
It baffles me how many people will not even clear their ONE front step which then turns into a lethal wedge-shaped ramp. I visit people at home as part of my job and I often cannot believe that people don't do a very simple thing, but then moan forever about how dangerous and difficult things are.

I think cold feels so much colder here, not just because of the wind, but also because it is a moist cold, not dry. I have been to -20 C in Canada and it was lovely (with the appropriate kit, mind).

I wholeheartedly agree with the OP re children (or adults for that matter) spending time outside. Yes, Vitamin D levels might be a bit negligable in the winter (certainly in Scotland they are), but fresh air does everybody good.

mathanxiety Thu 06-Dec-12 19:48:16

That's what I thought. Hence putting down salt when snow is forecast to make shovelling easier

HazleNutt Thu 06-Dec-12 16:04:02

technically salt is salt and grit are tiny stones. so salt melts the ice and grit gives you more grip. Salt and grit are often mixed though and therefore people use the terms interchangeably.

FryOneFatChristmasTurkey Thu 06-Dec-12 15:58:46

mathanxiety I have no guilt about using a tumble dryer. I have simply stopped using it because they cost a lot to run, when I can either dry outside or use a good indoor rack set over a heated floor. I think it's got cobwebs inside I've not used it for so long grin

Meanwhile, I am sooo grateful the people across the road moved house last year, because the chap would insist on washing the car regularly. Nor normally a problem, but the water ran off that driveway, and down the hill/across the road in a wide stream. He would wash the car in winter, leading to a large sheet of ice forming over the whole width of the road.

I asked him not to do it, several neighbours asked him not to, but he carried on because a peculiarity of the slope meant he could drive off his driveway and without going over the ice so it didn't cause him any problem.

It caused several near misses, and I was always worried I'd go out in the mornings to find a large dent in my car from someone who'd slipped on the ice. And we're in a cul-de-sac, so the local council don't grit our street. angry

FlaminNoraImPregnantPanda Thu 06-Dec-12 15:23:06

Salt and grit are different words for the same thing. It's not used much in other places (my area of Sweden never use it) because it's useless below -10C.

mathanxiety Thu 06-Dec-12 15:08:03

I notice people outside the UK are saying 'salt' while those in the UK are saying 'grit' and wondering what is the problem with rock salt and is it the same idiocy that makes British women feel guilty about using tumble dryers in the intermittent rain/ scattered showers/ isolated showers that British weather mostly consists of?

FlaminNoraImPregnantPanda Thu 06-Dec-12 12:57:10

In theory slippyshoes she could restore the original windows and install removeable secondary windows behind them. (Wouldn't want to if it were me mind).

My Swedish double glazed windows (from the 1930s) are as drafty as hell. My house is nice and warm though, but then so was my house in the UK.

slippyshoes Thu 06-Dec-12 12:49:16

For those posters who have said there is no reason not to insulate your house in the UK - please tell that to English Heritage. A friend of mine is currently locked in an argument with the listing people who insist that she removes the (lovely wooden, in keeping with the period) double glazed windows and doors from her listed house and replaces them with single glazed units as "listed houses cannot have double glazing". She lives up on a hill in northern England where they get snowed in every winter and have regular gale force winds... Would be better off moving to a lovely warm house in Sweden.

SugarplumMary Thu 06-Dec-12 11:52:23

redlac I'd settle for people not throwing water at their cars - which then runs down, we are on a hill, and freezes on the pavement making an ice rink for us walkers.

Last Year DH cleared our drive - dumped it on our grass we one of the few still with a garden. Next door has all drive - they cleared that by dumping the snow on our cleared drive. We shruged and started walking down the grass then they started moaning their vistors who go up our drive when theirs is full of cars - were slipping our drive.

sieglinde Thu 06-Dec-12 11:34:13

I just ordered a down overcoat... on sale at Lands End. And snow boots. And for the first time, we ran the heating all day yesterday. I think it's not that we are crap at winter - it's the ridiculous prices we pay the government.

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