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June 10, 2008

Sumer Is Icumen In (Lightning Strikes)
Posted by Jim Macdonald at 08:58 PM * 211 comments

Yesterday it was 100 degrees in Manchester, New Hampshire. So it’s time to remind folks that heat stress (hyperthermia) can kill you.

We’ve talked about Heat Stress before, and I’d like to invite everyone’s attention back to that post and comment thread.

Here’s the short version: Drink water. Even if you’re not thirsty. Eat salty snacks. Then drink some more. Wear a hat. And get out of the hot environment if you’re starting to feel the effects, because by the time you start to feel it, you’re already in heat stress.

We all know about sun screen, and sun block and such.

So, what else shall we talk about? Accompanying hot weather (which can kill you all on its own: old folks in unventilated apartments, kids in cars, and anyone else) you can see other damaging weather. Heat energy in the atmosphere has to go somewhere, and one of the places it can go is into storms.

We just had a storm here in northern New Hampshire that knocked power out for about four hours.

Everyone has their flashlights and candles and wind-up clocks and battery-operated radios and such, right? Know where they are, checked to make sure the batteries are okay? Very good.

Last Sunday there was a lightning strike in Connecticut at a beach that took out five folks (1 dead, 4 injured). That’s a not-unexpected casualty rate: Lightning strikes are around 20% fatal. In a thunderstorm, if you can hear the thunder you are already in range of a ground strike.

Lightning strikes are one of the cases where prolonged CPR is indicated. What do I mean by “prolonged”? Think “hours, if necessary.”

Lightning characteristically creates an interesting fern-like burn pattern on the patient’s skin.

Okay, say you’re outdoors and it gets all thundery. That’s a hint that it’s time to go inside. If a house isn’t convenient, your car is as good if not better. The rubber tires don’t insulate you from ground (there’s enough energy to push a spark through thousands of feet of air — two inches of rubber won’t help), Rather, the metal skin of the car acts like a Faraday Cage and routes the energy around you.

Bad places to be in a thunderstorm: An open boat in the middle of a lake. All by yourself on a golf course. Being the highest thing around no matter where you are.

Under a tree isn’t very good for two reasons: One being that if the tree is struck, the lightning is coming your way. The other being that in high winds (or a lightning strike) a branch can come off the top of the tree and clonk you on the noggin.

No house, no car, what to do? Get into a stand of low brush or saplings half-way up a slope, hunker down, and wait it out. Another good place is in a cave, well back from the cave mouth (provided the silly thing won’t collapse or flood on you). Electricity, after it strikes the ground, sometimes flows downhill. You don’t want to be in the flow path. And since lightning is often accompanied by heavy rain, you don’t want to be in ditches or gullies (or dry washes) in any case. No slope, no brush, just dead-level ground as far as the eye can see? Squat down into a ball with only the soles of your feet touching the ground and with your hands over your ears.

Speaking of that — only flash floods and river floods cause more severe-weather-related deaths than lightning strikes. Moving water has a tremendous amount of energy in it. If a road is flooded with moving water, Do Not Enter. Don’t try to drive through it, even if it looks like it’s only a couple of inches deep. Trying means that you might get to feature in a Reader’s Digest Drama In Real Life (AKA Too Stupid To Live) article. Stay away from flooded streams in general unless you’re personally trained in swift water rescue, or you want to meet some nice gentlemen who are.

If someone nearby is in a stream and you aren’t, don’t try to enter the water to rescue him unless you’re trained to do it. The rule is throw, tow, row, and go. That is — throw a line, extend a stick they can grab onto, get in a boat (and don’t do this unless you know what the flip you’re doing in a boat), and only get in the water after you’ve exhausted those options and if you’re tired of life yourself.

You might invest in a weather radio that sounds alerts if you live where tornadoes, hurricanes, floods, and other such things can be expected. Being somewhere else is the best defense against any number of unpleasant happenings.

So far this has been a nasty year for storms and the season is just beginning.

Okay, kids. That’s it for right now. Heat energy = potential hurt. Stay safe.

Index to Medical Posts.


Comments on Sumer Is Icumen In (Lightning Strikes):
#1 ::: Greg London ::: (view all by) ::: June 10, 2008, 09:37 PM:

an interesting fern-like burn pattern...

Woah. That's freaky weird.

#2 ::: Larry Brennan ::: (view all by) ::: June 10, 2008, 09:45 PM:

Here in Seattle, we currently need guidance about what to do if stuck in a snowstorm on a mountain. So far, we've had approximately 2 1/2 days of warm weather, and as I write this, it's 55 degrees and raining, with an expected overnight low of 45. Snow is expected in the Cascades.

Another bad place to be in a thunderstorm is on a motorcycle. (And it's not much fun, either.)

#3 ::: Caroline ::: (view all by) ::: June 10, 2008, 09:46 PM:

No slope, no brush, just dead-level ground as far as the eye can see?

So what is the answer to this question? "You're screwed"?

I once ran off a beach before a large, violent thunderstorm. We threw ourselves into the car and thanked the universe for the laws of physics. As we waited to get off the island, an ambulance came tearing onto it. That beach extends several miles beyond the last access point, and if you go down to the wild part, there is pretty much no getting off the beach -- it's beach, dunes, and marsh behind them. A man had been caught down there when the storm blew up, and had been struck by lightning and killed instantly.

I've often walked down to that end of the beach in the summer. If I were ever to find myself in his situation, is there anything I could do to avoid being struck?

#4 ::: joelfinkle ::: (view all by) ::: June 10, 2008, 09:54 PM:

Lightning's a bummer -- we keep finding electronic corpses from Saturday's storm: 52" TV, HD DirecTiVo, VCR (no big loss, haven't used it in a year), and doorbell transformer.

#5 ::: JESR ::: (view all by) ::: June 10, 2008, 09:56 PM:

Larry Brennan, Cliff Maas from UW Atmospheric Sciences said this morning that this has been the coldest spring in Washington since 1917. I'm sorely tempted to move back to the flannel sheets.

#6 ::: Lila ::: (view all by) ::: June 10, 2008, 09:57 PM:

Thanks as always for the great info, Jim.

I was once on a ferry when lightning struck a nearby island and I got a pretty good jolt from the metal ladder I was stupidly holding.

We have this nice hand-cranked weather radio. It also has a siren, a flashlight and a cellphone charger (with adapters for several different types of phones). It can run off house current, regular batteries, its own built-in battery (which charges as you crank it) or, when all else fails, crank power. Gets weather radio, AM, FM, and UHF TV audio.

#7 ::: James D. Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: June 10, 2008, 09:58 PM:

If I were ever to find myself in his situation, is there anything I could do to avoid being struck?

If it were me, I'd hit the dirt half-way up the side of one of the dunes and hope for the best.

#8 ::: Rikibeth ::: (view all by) ::: June 10, 2008, 09:58 PM:

So if a thunderstorm blows in when I'm at Warped Tour this summer (parking lot of Nassau Coliseum, the date I'm going to), head for the indoors, and if the building's locked up, bolt for my car (or the nearest friendly tour bus)?

I don't remember if it was the Detroit or Cleveland date last year that had the tornado. Cleveland, I think. Friends of mine were there for it. Scary!

#9 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: June 10, 2008, 10:14 PM:

Weather radio: has (or should have) the capability of bringing you bolt upright out of a sound sleep.
However, after the third or fourth time in one night, you may prefer sleeping in the storm cellar. With the weather radio off, risky as that might be.

There's at least one case in my family - not recent - of a kid being killed by lightning that struck a tree, went down it and into a fence, and got the kid, who was next to the fencepost.

#10 ::: Lila ::: (view all by) ::: June 10, 2008, 10:27 PM:

Whoops, I meant "VHF" not "UHF"; channels 2 to 13.

#11 ::: Seth Breidbart ::: (view all by) ::: June 10, 2008, 10:28 PM:

If you're standing near a tree, make sure both feet are equidistant from it. If lightning hits the tree, the potential in the ground depends on the distance from the tree, and if your feet are at different distances, there's a large voltage across your legs.

#12 ::: Rikibeth ::: (view all by) ::: June 10, 2008, 10:32 PM:

Ooh, and now there's a weather service warning for a thunderstorm that could include PENNY SIZED HAIL. First thunderclap heard now!

The good news is that it's supposed to make it ten degrees cooler tomorrow. If it's still unbearable in here, I'm using the free wi-fi at Panera.

#13 ::: C. Wingate ::: (view all by) ::: June 10, 2008, 10:33 PM:

re 5: It was bad enough that I needed a sweater on May Day, but needing one two weeks later was just too weird. By that point we should have had our first serious heat wave.

I have been caught out in the Chesapeake Bay in a 17' sailboat in a major storm. Scary stuff, which leads to another rule: take the jib down first. That boat had a jumper cable to hook to the mast and trail in the water. It had already been struck once, on land.

#14 ::: Tim in Albion ::: (view all by) ::: June 10, 2008, 10:47 PM:

In a thunderstorm, if you can hear the thunder you are already in range of a ground strike.

What??! The sound of thunder carries for miles beyond the storm itself. But maybe you meant the thunderclap, which generally you only hear if you're close. It's plenty scary when the flash and the clap coincide; been there twice, no fern-like pattern to show for it.

#15 ::: Rikibeth ::: (view all by) ::: June 10, 2008, 10:55 PM:

Strm seems to have passed. No hail. Where's my cool breeze?

#16 ::: Chris Lawson ::: (view all by) ::: June 10, 2008, 11:01 PM:

Jim, are you sure that hearing thunder means you're in the strike zone? I mean, you can hear thunder from many kilometres away. If you hear the distinct "clap" of thunder then you're going to be within a kilometre or so, but if it's that low rumble then you're probably well out of range. Having said that, thunderstorms move and if you happen to be dangerously exposed, you ought to think about moving ASAP.

I've actually had the experience of being extremely near a lightning strike. I never saw exactly where the bolt hit as I was in a car at early evening driving through a tall forest and all I experienced was the flash of light, a simultaneous (within the error bars of my perceptual capacity) thunderclap, and felt a surge of static in the air. One thing that I've never seen described before but which I noticed was a sudden smell of ozone, almost as if air freshener had been sprayed in the car.

#17 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: June 10, 2008, 11:08 PM:

The reason the pattern is fernlike is that both are fractals.

Rikibeth 15: Something about the terseness of this post made me want to rewrite it thus:

Summer storm has passed;
Penny-sized hail did not come.
Where is my cool breeze?
Also, I guess you must live in the NYC area, like me.

#18 ::: Leva Cygnet ::: (view all by) ::: June 10, 2008, 11:09 PM:

Jim -- What I've been taught in various wilderness survival courses, if you're caught in the open during a lightning storm, is that rather than lying prone, you squat and make as small a ball as possible. What you don't want to do is put a lot of conductive surface (skin) on the ground. If lightning strikes nearby you can pick a charge up from the ground. You're less likely to get a lethal jolt if you're on your feet (curled in a ball) vs. lying on the ground.

Ahhh ... this is "in theory." Lightning does what lightning wants to.

If you're with a group and caught in the open by a storm, the general advice I've heard is that you want to separate everyone by a hundred feet or so. That way, if someone's struck, the uninjured members of the party will be able to help them. If you're all bunched together, you're all going to get zapped.

(Also, just speaking from experience -- a very close lightning strike will fry a cell phone even if the phone itself is not actually zapped. The EMP is fairly significant off a lightning strike. You shouldn't bet on being able to call 911 if someone in your party's hit.)

As far as heat stroke goes, there's a very interesting book that tallies all known deaths in the Grand Canyon in modern times. (Death in the Grand Canyon: Over the Edge)

I was surprised to read that a very significant number of the deaths were from water intoxication, not actual heat stroke or dehydration. It was rather distressingly common for bystanders to think someone with water intoxication was dehydrated or had heat stroke, and push water on them, and then they would croak. (Falling over the edge wasn't as common a method of death as you would expect; a lot of the deaths were due to people underestimating the elements.)

#19 ::: James D. Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: June 10, 2008, 11:10 PM:

Thunderstorms are big, thunderstorms move, conditions that create one thunderstorm may create many; therefore, if you can hear thunder it's time to seek shelter.

#20 ::: Kes ::: (view all by) ::: June 10, 2008, 11:18 PM:

How about staying out of the shower during a storm? True or old wife's tale?

(I'd love to shower, but the thunder is still rumbling in the distance.)

#21 ::: Magenta Griffith ::: (view all by) ::: June 10, 2008, 11:21 PM:

I am very aware of the dangers of flooding, both in a car and elsewhere. Much of southern Minnesota, Iowa, Wisconsin, and parts east are flooded. I don't know how many of you have seen the footage of a house falling in the Wisconsin river and floating away, and another film of half a house falling in. The Mississippi will be closed for a couple of hundred miles because raw sewage has been washed into the river.

Don't drive into water on the road, no matter how well you know the spot, no matter how low it looks. Be prepared for flooding if you live on low ground, and find out ahead of time if you *do* live on low ground. This looks like it will be a very wet year in some parts of the country.

#22 ::: fidelio ::: (view all by) ::: June 10, 2008, 11:36 PM:

Not to carp, because this is the same sort of valuable, you-really-need-to-know-this-stuff you always deliver in these things, Jim, but we need something on tornadoes. Per the Weather Channel today, we have already had over 1100* tornadoes reported this year, some in areas that have them only rarely, and a lot of what people think they know about what to do in a tornado is old and out of date information. So, please. Pretty please, with a side of molasses pie. And ice cream on top, even.

By the way, it's still possible to get Dr. Franklin's wonderful invention, the lightning rod, installed on your home. Surge protectors are a good idea, too.

*The previous record for tornadoes reported through this date was 1067, in 1999. There's nothing to this climate change business, of course.

#23 ::: Rikibeth ::: (view all by) ::: June 10, 2008, 11:37 PM:

Xopher, central CT actually, but same storm front, I think. It was a big one.

And I like it as haiku! I wish I'd thought of posting it that way, but I haven't yet cultivated the ML talent for extemporized verse.

#24 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: June 11, 2008, 12:18 AM:

If what you're seeing and hearing is FLASH!! BANG!! RUMBLE-rumble-rumble ... you're plenty close enough.

#25 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: June 11, 2008, 12:22 AM:

Chris @ 16

That reminds me of a Frisbie story.
He was driving down the Santa Monica freeway in a thunderstorm (yes, LA does get them) when all of a sudden there was a loud noise and the world lit up blue. He got off the freeway at the next exit and checked the front of the car for scorch marks, then drove over to the Pelzes (Pelzi?), where Bruce opened the door and said 'We were just thinking about you!'
To which the answer was 'Next time could you not think so hard?'

#26 ::: Mary Frances ::: (view all by) ::: June 11, 2008, 12:38 AM:

Last week we were up north, and we had high winds, driving rain, lightning--and no thunder. I honestly didn't realize that was possible, and found it, if anything, more unnerving than thunder-and-lightning would have been. Especially in the middle of the night.

#27 ::: Paula Helm Murray ::: (view all by) ::: June 11, 2008, 12:38 AM:

#20 Kes: I'd stay out of the shower and off the landline phone if the thunderstorm is overhead/approaching or receding. If they're going off over your head, being in something affected by the plumbing is a scary thing.

I will admit I have violated that but I HAVE turned the water off when I don''t need it in that case.

In the last couple of thunderstorms we've had lightning/thunder that were close/vigorous enough to shake our 1912 house's windows. It's scary.

On the positive side, we have a television mast, the KCMO tower, that takes a fair amount of really big bolts for us. It's up on the ridge, where this side of KC reaches it's peak and then goes down the bluffs to the river. I can see that mast from my north window of my little office and the displays of the lightning are amazing. if they hit the mast they usually rattle the windows with the thunder, but better that than a house around here.

#28 ::: Alan Bostick ::: (view all by) ::: June 11, 2008, 12:51 AM:

Lhude sing Goddamm

#29 ::: Dave Trowbridge ::: (view all by) ::: June 11, 2008, 12:58 AM: might get to feature in a Reader’s Digest Drama In Real Life (AKA Too Stupid To Live) article.

Many years ago I heard from a ranger in the Sierra that they called situations like that "INS" rescues: Interfering with Natural Selection.

That may have been the time I saw a body bag coming down from Trail Camp on Mt. Whitney in July--someone who thought that a Sears kapok sleeping bag would keep them warm the previous 12,000 feet above sea level. On that same trip I saw someone smoking a cigarette at about 14,000 feet or so.

#30 ::: Marilee ::: (view all by) ::: June 11, 2008, 01:05 AM:

Yes, I have been inside since Saturday afternoon because of heat advisories and Air Codes Orange and above. The only good part of this is that the parking lot was being topped, and I don't walk well enough to go back and forth to where the van was parked all the time, and I had either stomach flu or food poisoning during that time. So I would've had to stay inside anyway. Nice of them to clump up like that.

The storm finally hit and when it had gone, it was much much cooler and I brought the van back to its parking spot so I can run errands tomorrow.

#31 ::: Adrian ::: (view all by) ::: June 11, 2008, 01:14 AM:

In an attempt to compensate for a manufacturing area that cannot be air conditioned, with two enormous furnaces, my employer's safety officer is keeping the break room stocked with free Gatorade this week, and encouraging people to drink it at frequent intervals. There's a choice of several flavors, but it all has glycerol ester of wood rosin (ie, the slightly opaque Gatorade.) Does anyone know if this has a purpose, other than making me throw up? It seems to be added to a lot of beverages one is supposed to drink when dehydrated, when throwing up would seem to be even less of a good idea than usual. Wood rosin ester makes me throw up without feeling especially sick before or after, which the kind of a benefit I'll take if no better options are available.

#32 ::: T.W ::: (view all by) ::: June 11, 2008, 01:45 AM:


Get yourself a good homemade switchel recipe.

For camping I mix orange/pinneapple juice frozen concentrate with some honey, split lemon wedges, kosher salt, cider vinegar, ginger or mint tea bag and tiny sprinkle of cream of tarter in 4L batches. You can serve it cut with carbonated water and it will go down fairly smoothly.

#33 ::: Jon ::: (view all by) ::: June 11, 2008, 02:15 AM:

P J @ #9

Some weather radios can be configured to cut down on nuisance warnings. The one I bought from Radio Shack a few years ago (which I can't find on their web site now) can be connected to a PC via USB cable; a program on the PC lets you set the radio's response for each type of weather alert. So for example, I'll get woken up in the middle of the night for tornado warnings & watches, but not for floods. It doesn't completely eliminate the nuisance factor - one recent afternoon it seemed like NOAA was sending out alerts about every 10 minutes or so that were all saying basically the same thing over & over - but it does cut down on them.

#34 ::: oliviacw ::: (view all by) ::: June 11, 2008, 02:41 AM:

in re numbers 2, 5, and etc...according to the evening news the high temperatures in and around Portland (OR) today were record low highs...that is, on June 10th, it has never before been as cold as 56 degrees at the warmest point in the day.

I'm still using my electric mattress pad!

#35 ::: Bruce Cohen (SpeakerToManagers) ::: (view all by) ::: June 11, 2008, 02:44 AM:

I can speak to the safety of automobiles in thunderstorms from personal experience. When I was in high school* I spent a summer working in the desert just north of Albuquerque. I was part of a survey crew re-laying out the markers on a vast subdivision on top of a mesa, where it rained fiercely for about half an hour on many afternoons. On one afternoon the storm was especially powerful; the four of us working together that day stayed in the car because the rain was coming down so hard. This part of the mesa was very flat, with only an occasional cactus or yucca plant, none of which were as tall as we were, so staying inside the car turned out to be a very good idea.

The rain started falling very hard; within a couple of minutes there was at least a couple of inches of water on the ground all around, and the car couldn't get enough traction to go anywhere**.
About ten minutes after the rain started, and after we'd heard some thunder in the distance, there was a loud bang and a very bright light. When the rain stopped a few minutes later, we left the car and walked around. About thirty feet from the car was a large scorch mark in the sand where a bolt of lightning had hit.

Then we drove off to go back to the office, about 8 miles away. Our route had to cross the largest arroyo on the mesa, about 20 feet deep and a couple of hundred across. On the way out it was bone dry, and we just drove along the road down into, across, and out of the arroyo. On the way back we had to stop and wait for a half hour or so; the rain had flooded the arroyo ten feet deep, making it impassible. I'm really glad we weren't driving across it when the rain started.

* Sometime in the Upper Devonian, IIRC.
** Early '60s Detroit 4-door beater, I don't remember the make; rear wheel drive, standard differential, and crappy tires on deep sand with water on top. Kill the engine, put on the parking brake, and wait awhile, because you're not going anywhere.

#36 ::: Wirelizard ::: (view all by) ::: June 11, 2008, 03:28 AM:

Hot weather? Sunstroke?

What is this "sun" you speak of? What is "heat"?

The Canadian west coast has had the lousiest spring in years to date - rain, cold, overcast, rinse and repeat. It's vile, and it's lousy flying weather... rain around here usually means stratus below a thousand feet...

On the subject of hot-weather drinks: lemon tonic is awesome. 4 parts tonic water, 1 part lemon juice, over ice. Mouth-puckeringly awesomely refreshing. Gin optional. Now, if only we had some of this mythical "heat" to enjoy it in!

#37 ::: dcb ::: (view all by) ::: June 11, 2008, 03:51 AM:

"Everyone has their flashlights and candles and wind-up clocks and battery-operated radios and such, right? Know where they are, checked to make sure the batteries are okay? Very good.

Don't forget the old-fashioned telephone that doesn't need power except for what comes down the 'phone line. Your electric-powered handsets won't work. We had to fish ours out (along with the wind-up and battery-powered radios) when we lost power on Sunday morning (fire at a substation; they cut off power to a fair chunk of south-east London for a while (turned out to only be three hours).

At least we have a gas cooker/stove/hob (sorry, can't remember the proper trans-Atlantic term) so I could boil water for my morning tea.

#38 ::: Nenya ::: (view all by) ::: June 11, 2008, 05:27 AM:

Wow, that lightning-struck human back is *amazing*. Wow.

#39 ::: Sylvia ::: (view all by) ::: June 11, 2008, 08:17 AM:

Leva @18 and Death in the Grand Canyon: Over the Edge

I found that book fascinating. Another interesting aspect was that no children have ever fallen off/run off the edge although at least one adult did while in the process of teasing his child.

#40 ::: John L ::: (view all by) ::: June 11, 2008, 08:25 AM:

The Weather Channel also warns that if you can hear thunder, you are within range of a lightning strike. Lightning can form out ahead of a thunderstorm as well as after it has passed.

When I was in Navy bootcamp down in Orlando, we would form up for meals on a huge paved parade ground that had metal poles sticking out of it for lights and basketball goals. Thunderstorms would tend to form right around when we'd assemble for evening mess, and the parade ground often had large puddles of water an inch or more deep we would stand in. Lightning awareness was important; we were told to head for the nearest building (NOT the women's barracks!) at full speed whenever the storm siren sounded.

Only had it happen twice; once the lightning struck the far end of the parade ground BEFORE the warning siren sounded, and we all broke and ran anyway (with the DI leading the way). The other time was after Sunday church service, and we had to take shelter while lightning repeatedly struck the water tower just a few hundred feet away.

Heat; Raleigh just had four consecutive days with the high over 100 degrees. The only other time this happened was August 1947. Surprisingly there've been few reported cases of heat exhaustion.

#41 ::: Lila ::: (view all by) ::: June 11, 2008, 08:41 AM:

Red Cross lightning quiz addresses the "really, if you can hear thunder?" question, among others.

#42 ::: Kevin Reid ::: (view all by) ::: June 11, 2008, 09:06 AM:

On not getting hit by lightning: I keep hearing about beaches and woods. What if I'm standing on a city sidewalk? If there are at-least-two-story buildings and the occasional tree around, how unsafe is it?

#43 ::: Keith ::: (view all by) ::: June 11, 2008, 09:09 AM:

I'm also concerned about heat stress in animals, specifically, cats.

My wife and I are moving from Georgia to Oregon in three weeks(!) and we have two cats. We're towing the car behind the moving truck and our plan right now is to put the cats in the car with battery powered fans and the widows cracked to allow air circulation. They'll be in a medium sized carrier with water. So my question is, is this a horrible, no good, very bad idea or not?

If not, how can we make the cats comfortable and ensure they don't end up puddles of melted fur by the time we hit the Rockies?

#44 ::: R. M. Koske ::: (view all by) ::: June 11, 2008, 09:12 AM:

#32, T.W.

I've been tempted by and afraid of switchel for quite some time.* Tempted, because something that I make myself with real ingredients sounds like a vast improvement over gatorade. Afraid, because a drink that sounds delicious and sweet but contains salt and vinegar is scary. So I never tried making it myself.

I finally ran into some at an SCA event and tried it. It wasn't hot out, so I wasn't in need and maybe that had an effect, but my reaction was that it was not bad but not especially good. Which is the way I feel about gatorade, actually. I may try it again some time.

Did you find that you had to acquire a taste for it? And were/are you one of those die-hard "gatorade is better than heatstroke, but only barely," people?

*I think this fascination may go all the way back to my pre-teen days, when I read about Ma Ingall's mixture to refresh Pa while he was haying. She didn't call it switchel, but it was the same concept.

#45 ::: R. M. Koske ::: (view all by) ::: June 11, 2008, 09:25 AM:

#43, Keith -

I don't know how good/bad an idea that is but I did recently read an idea that might help keep them more comfortable if it turns out to be feasible but unpleasant. The idea was to freeze plastic bottles of water and put them into the cage/carrier so the animal could cuddle up to the bottle to cool off. You'd want there to be room to avoid it as well, so the cat can control exposure, but it sounds like it could help.

(I'd also plan on leaving the windows all the way down and just rolling them up to "cracked" on the rare occasions when no one can stay with the vehicles to safeguard them. I say this because *I* would find a long car trip with windows only partly down hellish, and I'm not wearing a fur coat.)

#46 ::: Rikibeth ::: (view all by) ::: June 11, 2008, 09:26 AM:

I always liked the idea that Ma Ingalls' ginger-water "wouldn't make you sick, the way plain water would."

I have the Little House Cookbook, if you want the recipe.

#47 ::: Spam deleted ::: (view all by) ::: June 11, 2008, 09:34 AM:

Spam from

#48 ::: Keith ::: (view all by) ::: June 11, 2008, 09:51 AM:

R. M. Koske @ 45: Ice bottles are a good idea, thanks.

Rolling the windows down most of the way might be better, as it would eliminate the need for the fans, which could fall over and be useless. Though it would add more drag, raising fuel costs. But then, we're hauling a car and a metric ton of household stuff so it might not be enough to matter.

Whose bright idea was it to raise the price of gass over $4 right when I decided to move across country?

#49 ::: R. M. Koske ::: (view all by) ::: June 11, 2008, 09:51 AM:

#46, Rikibeth -

I'd love to see a recipe, if it wouldn't put you to too much trouble.

(And I'm really surprised and startled to see spam on a current, active thread. Someone really didn't check the lay of the land, did they?)

#50 ::: Joel Polowin ::: (view all by) ::: June 11, 2008, 09:51 AM:

Re: lightning rods, I heard a news item the other day that the latest common target of copper thieves is the heavy copper wire that grounds lightning rods. A local rod installer commented that a building with a rod installed, without it being grounded, is more at risk than it would be without the rod.

#51 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: June 11, 2008, 09:53 AM:

#47... Work with a company who focuses on building people


#52 ::: R. M. Koske ::: (view all by) ::: June 11, 2008, 09:55 AM:

#49, Keith -

The car will be sort of drafting anyway, so it might not be as much of an issue as if you were driving the car separately.

#53 ::: R. M. Koske ::: (view all by) ::: June 11, 2008, 10:00 AM:

Keith, another random thought -

It might be worth the trouble to get some cardboard and masking tape and shade all the windows you can - really close up the windshield and rear window, and if you don't open all the side windows, get those too. That would keep the sun out and reduce heat. It would be some trouble, because you'd have to do it after the car's on the tow rig, but shade makes an enormous difference.

#54 ::: Keith ::: (view all by) ::: June 11, 2008, 10:08 AM:

R. M. Koske @ 54: we have a sun shade for the front window and all the other windows are tinted to within the legal limit.

And I hadn't thought about drafting. We have three drivers, so it might be worth it just to drive the car separately. Then the cats won't be an issue because we'll have the AC.

#55 ::: Charlie Stross ::: (view all by) ::: June 11, 2008, 10:18 AM:

Keith: alternative suggestion -- if there are three drivers, have one of them ride in the car with the cats for the first hour or two. That way they can make sure the temperature's comfortable and/or adjust the windows, shades, etcetera. If they can't make it comfortable, cut loose the car and drive it (with a/c on) -- drinks more gas, but keeps the feline owners happier.

Is it possible to borrow/hire a truck with extra seating? Then you could have the cats travel in back where you can keep an eye on them.

#56 ::: Janni ::: (view all by) ::: June 11, 2008, 10:32 AM:

One thing about drinking water: it means water. Soda isn't water, tea isn't water, coffee isn't water; none of them will hydrate you as well as water can, and some will leave you thirstier. (Gatorade, on the other hand, is sorta water.)

I never knew how good water tasted until I moved somewhere where the humidity can get down around 4 percent in summer--made staying hydrated a lot more intuitive than it had been. But the same principles apply in more humid places where it's less intuitive--all that changes is the quantity you need to keep feeling okay

Also, by the time you're thirsty, you're probably already dehydrated.

#57 ::: Keith ::: (view all by) ::: June 11, 2008, 10:50 AM:

Charlie Stross @56: we've looked around for a truck that had a partition to the back cab so we could arrange the cats to be close to us and near the AC but no such truck exists in Georgia, as far as we can find. Limited resources and the moral repugnance by many natives at the suggestion that there are better ways to do just about everything are just some of the reasons we're moving. I've had locals tell me to just stick the cats in the car and quit complaining because hay, we can always get new cats, right?

I'm leaning towards driving the car. The more I think about it, the more hassle it seems to rig something that would be comfortable for them and not drive me bonkers worrying about them. Cruelty to animals is one of my pet peeves. Plus, my back of the napkin figures show that renting the rig to tow the car will be about the price of the gas to drive it 3000 miles.

But thanks everyone for the advice! Keep it coming. Anything to make the trip more enjoyable for cats and humans would be appreciated.

#58 ::: Thel ::: (view all by) ::: June 11, 2008, 11:00 AM:

@5: We still haven't switched away from the flannel sheets yet. I hear it may get up over 65 degrees by the end of the week, though! Yee-haw!

#59 ::: Keith ::: (view all by) ::: June 11, 2008, 11:05 AM:

Thel @ 59: Could be worse. The heat index here in GA reached 100+ yesterday with humidity over 80%. I'm looking forward to 65.

#60 ::: Chris J. ::: (view all by) ::: June 11, 2008, 11:07 AM:

Out here in the Rockies I've personally taken care of quite a few folks struck by lightning. Usually it's hikers (invariably tourists from Texas or some such place) above tree line on a summer day in the afternoon. The literal "bolt from the blue" from an apparently cloudless sky (the cloud may be on the other side of the peak) is often the first sign of trouble. There have been a few interesting ones, including a kid who got hit in the head (his ball cap looked like one of Wile E. Coyote's) and had the bolt leave via his foot, where it melted his synthetic sock to his sneaker. He did fine. I've not had a fatality, yet, actually. But lightning can do some serious harm.

#61 ::: Debbie ::: (view all by) ::: June 11, 2008, 11:10 AM:

Keith --

Most of the time the weather here isn't hot enough to need air conditioning, except for a very few weeks in the summer. My kids especially had a hard time getting to sleep. I had a brainstorm and wrapped one of those ice substitutes for coolers in a terry cloth bag and let them take it to bed with them. Maybe this would also be somehow helpful for the cats? The cooling units could possibly be refrozen at motels along the way.

#62 ::: Sarah ::: (view all by) ::: June 11, 2008, 11:11 AM:

Keith @ 43:
I was going to tell you about the frozen water bottles, but it looks like that's been covered. Do use the two-liter soda bottles, though - the extra bulk means they will last a lot longer. And wrap them in a towel.

N.B. - Don't overfill the soda bottles before freezing; it gets messy. Water expands when it freezes, donchaknow.

I'll also add my voice to the PNW "I'm cold" subthread.

#63 ::: Faren Miller ::: (view all by) ::: June 11, 2008, 11:33 AM:

One other thing about filling bottles if you're going to be crossing anyplace that's a mile or more high: things filled at sea level expand at altitude. That's why a few of my mother-in-law's home-made jams didn't make it safely from Maine to mile-high Prescott AZ. (Argh, oozing blueberry....)

#64 ::: guthrie ::: (view all by) ::: June 11, 2008, 11:38 AM:

JOel #51- people have been stealing lightning conductors for years here in the UK, although it has probably gotten a bit worse in the past few years. Of course it doesn't help that a lot of them are made of Aluminium these days. Its still a lot of work to fit new ones.

#65 ::: Steve C. ::: (view all by) ::: June 11, 2008, 11:38 AM:

Keith, here's a portable a/c unit that runs off 12 volts and an ice chest. I haven't used one, but it looks like it would work.


#66 ::: R. M. Koske ::: (view all by) ::: June 11, 2008, 11:46 AM:

#58, Keith -

I've had locals tell me to just stick the cats in the car and quit complaining because hay, we can always get new cats, right?

You've also had a local tell you that cracking the windows wouldn't be good enough. Georgian =/= uncaring about animals.

#67 ::: Keith ::: (view all by) ::: June 11, 2008, 11:48 AM:

Debbie @ 62: we have a bunch of those cooler packs, so that might work.

Thanks for the link Steve, C. I'll check that out.

#68 ::: Lori Coulson ::: (view all by) ::: June 11, 2008, 11:49 AM:

Joel Polowin @51: Been there, done that.

Our lawn service accidentally disconected the wire from the ground. We had a power surge after a storm, and our washer and dryer both lit up like Christmas trees and died.

The power surge also killed everything with a "brain," except the computer, TV and DVD player -- they were on a surge protector. (The refrigerators were old enough that it didn't bother them.)

It cost about $2K to repair or replace the appliances, and we had the electrician install a whole house surge protector. (It goes between the breaker box and the incoming wire.)

One night last week, at 12:30pm, I awakened to what sounded like a bomb going off -- lightning took out the transformer behind the house next door. Much to my surprise, when we got the power back, the LEDs on the surge protector were still glowing green...I thought it might have had to sacrifice itself to save the rest of the house.

#69 ::: Noelle ::: (view all by) ::: June 11, 2008, 11:49 AM:

I just returned from Vancouver for a conference where the outside info desk person (who was originally from Mexico) was wearing mittens and a toque. It was pretty early in the morning, but I didn't think it was that cold...

I'm now back in Hamilton, where the heat hit 32 celcius, 42 with the humidex. I think I prefer the cold. But we did get beautiful thunder and lightening storms. Watched safely from the front porch.

#70 ::: EClaire ::: (view all by) ::: June 11, 2008, 11:57 AM:

Having moved from Portland to Illinois last July with two cats, I would say keeping them a little more available to you would be good. I hadn't heard the water bottle trick, but we ended up with our two carriers stacked between the two seats in the moving truck, with the AC on, and still had one of my cats overheat because he got so worked up from being in the carrier.
Cats don't pant. If your cat seems to be doing something *like* panting - not good. A little cold water, rubbed on his face, to try and get him to drink a bit, and letting him sit on my lap for the next two days managed to solve the problem. Not a great solution, but panicking in the parking lot of a Perkins in Wyoming wasn't really working either.
Good luck!

#71 ::: Leigh Butler ::: (view all by) ::: June 11, 2008, 12:00 PM:

Storm watching has always been one of my favorite activities. One of the most annoying things to me when I lived in L.A. was the almost total lack of thunder.

When I was a kid, my mom and sisters and I were standing on our porch one day to watch a thunderstorm when lightning struck the tree directly across the street from our house - a distance of maybe 50 feet.

The craziest thing about the experience, other than the ozone tang and seeing spots for a hour afterwards, was the way the air had seemed to... bunch up a split second before the bolt struck. Like it was tensing for a blow.

So freaky.

#72 ::: Keith ::: (view all by) ::: June 11, 2008, 12:01 PM:

Thanks EClare.

I'm mostly concerned about our girl cat. She's skinny and high strung at the best of times. Our boy cat is a big ol lunk who'll just chill out in his cage and sleep.

#73 ::: fidelio ::: (view all by) ::: June 11, 2008, 12:12 PM:

Keith, I'd say go with your inclincation to just drive the car. For one thing, the truck with the trailer will be less manageable (hilly/mountainous terrain on your route?) than the two vehicles separately, and having to pull the trailer will increase the fuel costs for the truck. Also, if there are three drivers, packing all three of you into the truck cab for that long a drive can become too much togetherness very quickly.

A cat panting is a bad sign. Also, like dogs, they don't sweat. I have had some luck cooling cats down by soaking them down*, but you can rest assured this will not make you popular if you have to do it. Even with a driver in the car and the air conditioning on, freezer blocks/frozen bottles might be a good plan.

*In fact, I had one who would go and lie down under the attic fan after I did this, although she would explain at length that I was going to burn in hell for what I'd done as she reclined in the airstream.

#74 ::: Lin D ::: (view all by) ::: June 11, 2008, 12:20 PM:

Keith, a friend of mine moved from Tampa FL in July, came across US40, Uhaul truck with tow hitch for car, two drivers, five cats in the car.

Besides the windows cracked for air circulation, friend spliced some wire to lengthen the "outdoor" end of an indoor/outdoor thermometer, and strung it from the cab of the uhaul to the towed car-with-cats. Every time the temp in the car got to 100, they'd find a place with shade to pull over and cool the car. Cats arrived healthy.

#75 ::: Sarah ::: (view all by) ::: June 11, 2008, 12:27 PM:

Keith @ 73:
For a trip that long with a high-strung cat, maybe your vet can prescribe a sedative? That might make her more prone to dehydration, though.

#76 ::: Ginger ::: (view all by) ::: June 11, 2008, 12:27 PM:

Keith, I also vote for keeping the car, so you can put the cats into an A/C environment.

When a cat pants, it's unusual so it's something to be noted. Cats can pant because of stress or because of heat. If you know one of your cats is easily stressed, you can talk to your vet ahead of time to get a sedative pill for her. The old standard is "Ace", or acepromazine. I've had decent luck using chlorpheniramine maleate (aka Chlor-Trimeton), which is an over-the-counter antihistamine with sedative properties. Other vets like to use benadryl for this reason. The basic principle is to (1)sedate or tranquilize the nervous animal and (2) prevent motion sickness -- and yes, cats can get motion sickness.

Make sure they get plenty of water to drink along the way. This will help keep them cool, and will help keep them from getting urinary tract infections (females) or blockage (males). Anything you can do to prevent a trip to the emergency vet on the night after you arrive in a new town is good. ;-)

They will not be happy campers until well after you've gotten to the new house, as cats are very territorial creatures and don't deal well with the necessities of moving. My suggestion is to put them in a small room with no holes for them to disappear into, along with food, water, litter box and a hiding box with at least one semi-used towel. By "semi-used" I mean it's a towel you used on yourself a few times, so it has your smell on it. It's a reassuring smell for cats, and indicates that this is still your territory. Cats like to hide when they're upset, as you may have noticed, and having an extra box to hide in may be just what the doctor prescribed. ;-)

Catnip, if they like it, will also be helpful. Tuna -- if they like it -- will be very gratefully consumed, once they get over being mad at you.

Good luck with your move!

#77 ::: Keith ::: (view all by) ::: June 11, 2008, 12:34 PM:

A sedative for our high strung cat isn't really an option. We already ran it by the vet and because of her weight, and how she generally reacts to drugs, he said the largest dose he could give her wouldn't be that effective and keeping her doped for 3 days could have other side effects worse then just keeping her cool and relaxed.

We're planning on putting some towels and t-shirts with our smell on them into their carriers, along with water and cooler packs.

#78 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: June 11, 2008, 12:48 PM:

Sylvia, #39: Egad. Talk about mixed emotions!

#79 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: June 11, 2008, 12:57 PM:

Lila 41: I got them all right, due largely to this post/thread. So thank you Jim, and thank you everyone else!

R. M. 44: I've heard that if Gatorade™ tastes good, you need it. In other words, if you're NOT in need, it's kind of disgusting. Self-limiting medication not being the worst thing in the world, I think that's a good thing. Perhaps switchel works the same way?

Janni: How about water with one packet of TrueLemon®? In a quart of water? I find that enormously increases the I cutting its hydrating ability?

#80 ::: R. M. Koske ::: (view all by) ::: June 11, 2008, 01:06 PM:

#80, Xopher -

I wondered if that was affecting my perceptions at the time. I guess I'll have to make up a small batch of switchel the next time I expect to be in need of such a beverage, and try it.

Funny, I never noticed the "it tastes bad unless you need it," properties of Gatorade, probably because I almost never had it unless I was in a needful situation. This explains why for years I thought it was pretty good and didn't get what people were complaining about. Recently when I've had it and not been in need, I thought they must have changed the formula, because yuck. I hadn't noticed it as a pattern until it was pointed out here.

And I'm not Janni, but I think that plain water you don't drink is less hydrating than adulterated water you do drink. If a TrueLemon packet is the size I'm thinking of (about the size of a fast food ketchup pack, yes?) then I can't imagine there would be any harm in it.

#81 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: June 11, 2008, 01:11 PM:

It contains about the same amount of powder as a Splenda™ packet, or less.

#82 ::: John L ::: (view all by) ::: June 11, 2008, 01:31 PM:

I get up early every workday (VERY early) and go walk about 3 miles for exercise. When I get home I'm drenched in sweat, and I've found that those new little 12 oz. bottles of Gatorade are precisely what I want at that time.

Keith, have you considered putting both cats together in a larger carrier? That way they'll have company and you won't have to worry about keeping two sets of water/food/cooling going at the same time. I was going to suggest the sedative but you've already addressed that.

Best suggestion is start now with getting the cats used to being in the car. Put them in the car and drive them around and gradually increase the time; that way when you take off on your long distance trip, they're not being exposed to something brand new and you would have time to adjust how you make them comfortable.

#83 ::: Ledasmom ::: (view all by) ::: June 11, 2008, 01:36 PM:

Where we are, any time there's lightning in the area, it's here. We are in the highest residential neighborhood in our city. When it thunders our house shakes.
Last night there was a strange, short, fierce storm around, oh, eleven-thirty or thereabouts. The screens on the two windows that were facing into the wind popped off their tracks (resulting in the cat getting a sudden shower), and we could hear our garbage cans moving around the driveway. Now, normally the cans move but they don't travel far. The lids, though, can end up anywhere. So we grabbed our coats (feeling all fired-up and so on, because we'd just been watching "Deadliest Catch") and ran outside, where we were instantly drenched.
And I said, "Craig, we are standing on the top of a hill, in a thunderstorm, under a tree."
And we went back inside.
Regarding the cats, I agree that they should travel in the car, with AC. Cats are very bad about using frozen water bottles to cool down. The only way I can get ours to do it is if I'm on the other side of the water bottle.
If any of you have guinea pigs, they are very susceptible to heat stress. If the temperature goes above 75 degrees, and especially if the rise in temperature is relatively sudden, they need heat relief in the form of frozen water bottles, which they will lie on or next to. Blue cooler cold-packs can be used if your guinea pigs don't chew on them, which some do; wrapping bottles or cold-packs in a towel keeps the condensation from making wet spots in the cage. Watermelon rind, washed and partly frozen, also helps, as does ice in their drinking-water bottles (you can fill them partway, freeze and add water).
I am told that chinchillas also have a lot of trouble with the heat (makes sense, considering their fur), but I have no personal experience with them.

#84 ::: dcb ::: (view all by) ::: June 11, 2008, 01:56 PM:


When travelling with our cats we put a white sheet loosely over the cages to cut down the direct sunlight and to reduce sensory input from outside (big scary moving vehicles nearby, for example). One did start panting once when we were in start-stop traffic in hot (for the UK) weather (no, we don't have air conditioning in the car) and it was difficult to work out how much was stress, how much was heat (thery're usually okay in the car). As soon as practical I pulled over for a while, reassured them, let them out the carriers (windows closed, of course) and offered a drink and the litter tray.

Figure for longer-than-usual rest breaks to give them the chance to calm down enough to drink etc.

I'll second Ginger's suggestions for after arrival. Allow at least two hiding boxes if they don't like to cuddle up together.

#85 ::: T.W ::: (view all by) ::: June 11, 2008, 02:07 PM:


I used to give frozen peas and other iced veggies to our pet rodents during hot spells. They chewed them down like ice cream.

#86 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: June 11, 2008, 02:16 PM:

Because AKICIML: I've been following the switchel subthread with some interest because I find Gatorade and most other electrolyte-replenishment drinks to be VILE (and I don't believe the line about "if you need it, then it tastes good" either). But I notice that all of the recipes seem to include vinegar as a major ingredient.

I hate vinegar. There's something about the flavor of acetic acid that I just can't stand. I had a chance to sample hors d'oeurves made with Expen$ive 100-Year-Old Balsamic Vinegar once, and... they tasted like vinegar.

My usual substitute for vinegar in recipes that call for it is lemon juice, occasionally apple juice for a smoother flavor. Would this work for a homemade electrolyte-replacement drink, or is there some special virtue about the vinegar that lemon juice isn't going to duplicate?

#87 ::: Keith ::: (view all by) ::: June 11, 2008, 02:21 PM:

John L @ 83: have you considered putting both cats together in a larger carrier? That way they'll have company and you won't have to worry about keeping two sets of water/food/cooling going at the same time.

That's the plan. And I like the idea of driving them around a bit to get them used to the car. We're taking a shorter road trip to see my folks next weekend, so that might be a good test drive.

#88 ::: mary ::: (view all by) ::: June 11, 2008, 02:43 PM:

Electricity, after it strikes the ground, sometimes flows downhill.


#89 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: June 11, 2008, 02:45 PM:

Janni (57) and Xopher (80): Any non-alcoholic beverage will hydrate you. Caffeinated beverages don't do it as effectively, but they're still a net gain. The only advantage of water is the lack of extra calories. So TrueLemon shouldn't make any difference.

#90 ::: Keith ::: (view all by) ::: June 11, 2008, 02:56 PM:

So, in summery, the CW on how to move cats across country during the summer:

  • 1 large cat carrier they can share
  • ice bottles/freezer packs wrapped in towels to keep them cool
  • dry towels for comfort/absorption
  • human-scented cloths for psychological comfort
  • optional sunshade/sheet for blocking out large objects
  • water and water dishes for breaks
  • frozen pees as a snack
  • litter box

Have I left anything out?

#91 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: June 11, 2008, 02:56 PM:

Following up my #90: This is not the interview I remember on the subject, but it looks good.

#92 ::: Debbie ::: (view all by) ::: June 11, 2008, 02:59 PM:

Keith @91 -- frozen pees as a snack

You sure about that one? (Sorry, couldn't resist.)

#93 ::: Emily ::: (view all by) ::: June 11, 2008, 03:05 PM:

One thing about drinking water: it means water. Soda isn't water, tea isn't water, coffee isn't water; none of them will hydrate you as well as water can, and some will leave you thirstier. (Gatorade, on the other hand, is sorta water.)

This is very much a ymmv thing... if you're one of those oddities who won't drink plain water and guzzles tea by the gallon, drink the damn tea. Liquid in is more important. If you will drink water, by all means, drink water.

My usual substitute for vinegar in recipes that call for it is lemon juice, occasionally apple juice for a smoother flavor. Would this work for a homemade electrolyte-replacement drink, or is there some special virtue about the vinegar that lemon juice isn't going to duplicate?

I can't think of anything that would *require* the vinegar, and the recipe posted up-thread has cut up lemon wedges as well as vinegar. I can't see how more lemon would hurt. And most citrus fruit is a decent electrolyte source, so it's never a horrid idea in hot weather.

Matter of fact, I've been doing the prep for limeade concentrate while I read this thread. WI isn't as hot as the East Coast has been, but it's hot enough. I do a variant on Theresa's concentrate with less alcohol for zest extraction. Means we drink even more limeade than we would otherwise. Since we get around mostly by bike, lemonade and limeade are much loved in this household.

#94 ::: Linkmeister ::: (view all by) ::: June 11, 2008, 03:09 PM:

We have a VEC130B TV/Radio combination. My only gripe is that to change TV channels you have to throw a switch when moving from 6 to 7, 11 to 13, etc. (Actual channel numbers may differ.) Well, that and tuning it via an analog knob rather than a pre-set TV channel number. Radio is excellent.

#95 ::: Keith ::: (view all by) ::: June 11, 2008, 03:12 PM:

Debbie @93: Someone upthread suggested it. It sounds plausible, though in a more general way. My cats tend to be wary of things that are frozen and the only plant matter I've ever seen them eat is catnip. Though they have both tried cilantro, which they thought was catnip. They were disappointed.

#96 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: June 11, 2008, 03:17 PM:

Keith (96): I believe Debbie was reacting to the unfortunate misspelling.

#97 ::: Jane Smith ::: (view all by) ::: June 11, 2008, 03:22 PM:

Cats. Stress. Travel. Bad combination. Let me remember how it worked all those years ago in cat rescue.

I'd not put them in one carrier, no matter how friendly they are to one another, as they're likely to be a bit snippy and might well fight under such stressful conditions.

I'd invest in a Feliway (or perhaps Felifriend) spray: these are cat hormones, which help a cat feel relaxed, and so minimise stress, and reactions to it. They work with a cat which soils inappropriately, too.

I've seen a vet dose a highly-stressed cat with diazepam. Don't know the dose or the side effects, but it's worth considering if you have access to the drug.

I'd drape the carriers with wet cloths to keep the cats inside cool (and then they do at least get the satisfaction of watching you get wet and chafed: cats love revenge), while makign sure I didn't block the air circulation.

And yes, I'd definitely drive the cats so you can judge how they're reacting. This gives you the chance to listen for several hours to the beautiful songs that they will sing you (trust me, I know this game: I have three Siameses, all rescues, all disturbed, and a very confused Ragdoll who tries to keep up). Have a spare cat carrier and plenty of spare clean towels to hand in case of accidents, try to find those little drinking bowls that clip onto the wire of the carriers so that they can still get some hydration, and remember to breathe deeply, too.

Good luck.

#98 ::: T.W ::: (view all by) ::: June 11, 2008, 03:27 PM:

The vinegar in switchel is more of a preservative but it also cuts through the back of the throat gummy stickiness that thirst can cause if you have been working out in the heat and breathe through your mouth. I know some folks that drink a bit pickle brine before they glug down the straight water. I've have heard too many people complain about how Gatorade sours the stomach and the diabetics won't go near it's sugar content. Took me a while to clue in that cream of tarter is the potassium salt to go with the regular sodium salt.
(Years ago in Chem class we also discussed, I think it was buffering of ionic solutions, how sometimes adding more acid to an upset stomach can be just as effective as taking antacids.)

#99 ::: Charlie Stross ::: (view all by) ::: June 11, 2008, 03:35 PM:

If Gatorade is vile, see if anywhere close to home sells Pocari Sweat. Japanese, weird, water-of-life if you're out and about in Tokyo in August.

#100 ::: T.W ::: (view all by) ::: June 11, 2008, 03:50 PM:

You could just keep a jar of unsweeten baby dills next to the water and make sure to eat a pickle every time you fill you glass.

#101 ::: linnen ::: (view all by) ::: June 11, 2008, 03:52 PM:

Emily @94

Recently I tried a Orange-Coffee cordial. While the recipe is simple to execute, the steeping time is long (about a month and a half).

It does allow one to experience being caffeinated and blitzed at the same time.

#102 ::: bbrugger ::: (view all by) ::: June 11, 2008, 04:10 PM:

Keith @ 91: re cats, moving thereof

When moved from TN to OR in June a few years back I did it with two cats and a large dog. Flying was right out.

The dog was a trouper. He rode in his crate, got in and out at stops easily, generally thought it was a grand adventure. Well, he's a Golden, they think everything is a grand adventure.

I'd planned on giving the cats a mild sedative for travel. On my vet's advice I gave them both a dose a couple of nights before the drive started so we were within easy reach of the prescribing vet in the event of a problem. Both tolerated it well, or so it appeared.

Morning of trip, go to administer pills. Fend off spirited attempts at disembowelment, nearly lose a finger. Desist, decide cat REALLY does not want pill. Decide not to dose either cat as one drugged up cat, one agitated undrugged cat is potentially hazardous to all involved.

Install dog's crate in van, install dog. Install cats in carrier. Take to van. Set up wire show crate gotten from Freecycle as follows: ratty familiar blanket I will trash at end of trip on floor of crate. Low plastic rectangular container with cat litter. Water bottles, food dishes. The triumph of the trip- top half (or hood) of covered litter box set in back of crate, creating both a hidey hole and a place to be up. Drape another familiar ratty blanket on top of crate.

Install cats in new travelling home. Drove for 5.5 days. Spent one very long evening in Missouri taking turns at sitting in van with cats because moving crate into hotel room contraindicated by HUGE thunderstorm.

There are good resources out there for finding pet friendly places to stay. With a book on travelling with pets and a book similar to this one ( and a cell phone we did just fine.

#103 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: June 11, 2008, 04:12 PM:


Actually, it does make a difference in the flavor, if you need the stuff. I've noticed it with minerally spring water: if I need the hydration, it tastes wonderful, and if I don't, it's just 'eh'. That was with the same brand, both ways.

#104 ::: Keith ::: (view all by) ::: June 11, 2008, 04:51 PM:

Mary Aileen @97: Oh yes, frozen pee. Sigh. One of these days, I'll be able to afford that homonym transplant. Then all will be right with the world.

Thanks to everyone! I think we've got a pretty solid plan worked out.

#105 ::: B. Durbin ::: (view all by) ::: June 11, 2008, 05:17 PM:

There was one lightning storm where we were in class and it was lights flicker-flash-boom-SNAP. We all looked at each other, thinking, "Snap?" and then somebody pulled the fire alarm. We all trouped out— it was still dry at this point— and saw a column of smoke right behind the school. Apparently lightning had hit a palm tree, which was burning like a torch. Then the clouds opened up and drenched it and we went inside.

At this point we were having pigeon problems in our palm tree. I drove home that afternoon with visions of fried squab all over our lawn.

#106 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: June 11, 2008, 05:19 PM:

Keith @#91: The frozen peas were for TW's rodents. For cats, I think you'd want to freeze something else, like tuna.

Jim: I've heard that lightning-struck people often get a nasty delayed response, where nerves that were subtly damaged by the current start dying off over the next couple of years. Do you know anything about that?

As I've noted before, we get lots of thunderstorms here in VA, and they include lots of lightning. Fortunately, there are also lots of hills and trees around. I have had the power blink out a few times, but no long outages.

And I usually do carry a water bottle in my backpack. We've had a few "excessive heat warnings" down here, too.

#107 ::: FungiFromYuggoth ::: (view all by) ::: June 11, 2008, 05:20 PM:

If you do have the plastic bowls that clip on the side of the carrier, you can also pop an ice cube or two in the water to cool it down.

In the non-feline portion of the thread, I habitually dilute lemonade into lemony-flavored water and I have a friend who waters his soda.

#108 ::: B. Durbin ::: (view all by) ::: June 11, 2008, 05:20 PM:

P.S. My meteorologically-inclined friend reminds me that lightning converges, just like river systems. The thickest point is the end point, which makes most lightning strikes ground-to-air rather than air-to-ground.

And just for fun— lightning and fireworks! (The fireworks show got... well... moved up a bit. And it stopped almost exactly a minute before the rain started.)

#109 ::: Thena ::: (view all by) ::: June 11, 2008, 05:24 PM:

2005. Early May, so it wasn't hot yet (it had snowed in Wyoming the week before, actually.) Drove from Oregon to Maine with Number One Cat in carrier in the front seat and the rest of the car so full of crap it could barely go up hill.

Notes for future reference:

1) It is okay to stash the travel-size litter box under the driver's seat, but it is NOT OKAY to let cat out of the crate in the car to use it.

2) When the cat gets up under the driver's seat and refuses to budge, the only thing to be done is resume driving until you reach destination for the night.

3) "Do you have any welder's gloves?!" is an appropriate greeting between netfriends in certain parts of Idaho.

4) The cat will, eventually, figure out that you aren't going to the vet, and will settle into the routine of dozing in the crate all day and exploring motel bathrooms at night.

5) Motel beds are easily disassembled when the cat escapes from the motel bathroom and hides under them.

6) Always clean the litter box before stowing under the driver's seat, especially in warm weather.

#110 ::: James D. Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: June 11, 2008, 05:38 PM:

#107 Jim: I've heard that lightning-struck people often get a nasty delayed response, where nerves that were subtly damaged by the current start dying off over the next couple of years. Do you know anything about that?

No, but I do know that people who've been struck by lightning have a greater than normal chance of developing cataracts later on. Ruptured ear drums at the time of the event are common. Plus, PTSD is not unknown, with its whole panoply of associated symptoms.

In the immediate first aid line, if the person is pulseless/not breathing, start and continue CPR. Otherwise, treat for burns and treat for shock. Transport to an ER as soon as possible.

Here's another photo of the typical lightning-struck skin burn.

#111 ::: Mary Kay ::: (view all by) ::: June 11, 2008, 06:03 PM:

Gosh. Reading all that makes me wonder how I ever survived 30+ years in the southern Great Plains without dying. I mean hellacious heat and if we tried to actually observe those rules about thunderstorms, well, we'd have been indoors with everything disconnected from mid-March-sometime in July. Which we didn't, and yet I never knew anyone hit by lightning. Floods, sure you bet, and tornadoes, but no lightning strikes.

The closest I've come to heatstroke was last August when I got caught in the crowds for the Samba Festival Parade in Tokyo. No, I'm not kidding. The heat and humidity were awful, the people were 18 deep on the sidewalks and I couldn't find a way out. Whichever way I went, there were people and parade. McDonald's saved my life, perhaps literally, by appearing magically before me with cold drinks and air conditioning. I had hit the confused and disoriented stage sometime before that.

MKK--also damn cold in the PNW

#112 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: June 11, 2008, 06:04 PM:

I met someone once who worked at one of the camps where a large Pagan gathering was held. He'd sort of been hanging, what time he was off work, with the Asatru gang, and had just gotten a Thor Hammer and started to wear it sometimes, but he wasn't quite sure if Asatru was really for him.

It was high summer, and the camp was rented to another group for the week, but there were also kids doing the kids' camp thing. So he was out during a massive thunderstorm, digging a trench because a peculiarity of the ground had led to a large flow of water THROUGH one of the kids' cabins, and he wanted to keep the kids from being washed down the mountain, go figure.

By "down the mountain" I mean the nearest town was an hour's drive down windy uneven muddy country roads away.

Anyway, he got struck by lightning. At this point in his story I told him "Well, Thor was either saying "FUCK YOU" or "YOU'RE MINE!!!" Since he was telling the tale, though, I figured I knew which.

Know who the group was who'd rented the camp for the week? A convention of burn specialists. I told him "yeah, looks like you belong to Thor."

#113 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: June 11, 2008, 06:15 PM:

Xopher @ 113... " belong to Thor."

That person certainly wasn't Loki.

#114 ::: joann ::: (view all by) ::: June 11, 2008, 06:16 PM:

Keith (or anyone else): If you're travelling in summer with plants, under no circumstances leave them in the car. They are at least as fragile as the cats. We left a couple of airplane plants that even my black thumb had not managed to kill in the car in Tuscon around 11 am one mid-June. For all of *ten* minutes. When I went back out to retrieve them after getting other stuff into the motel room, they were already roasted brown. Even the aloe vera was looking kind of fried.

#115 ::: Soon Lee ::: (view all by) ::: June 11, 2008, 06:28 PM:

Meanwhile, on the other side of the world, the temperatures are dropping with the onset of winter, today's hi/low is 17/10 deg C (63/50 deg F).

#116 ::: Edward Oleander ::: (view all by) ::: June 11, 2008, 06:43 PM:

I only skimmed the comments, so this could very well be a repeat, but...

Jim was absolutely right... If you can hear ANY ANY ANY rumble of thunder you are in range of being hit by lightning.

The record verified range of a fatal lightning strike is FIFTY miles plus or minus. A man was killed while riding his bike (*** Remember what Jim said about rubber tires? ***) in Colorado, by a strike that originated 50 miles away in the Rocky Mountains. There were no storm clouds in sight when the strike happened.

Of course that is extreme and incredibly rare, but many strikes from lightning strokes completely out of audible range have been recorded.

#117 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: June 11, 2008, 06:58 PM:

Serge #114: If the levinstroke fried his hair off, he'd have been Balder.

#118 ::: James D. Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: June 11, 2008, 07:02 PM:

If you want to get struck by lightning, be a male, on a golf course, in Florida, on Saturday, in July, at four p.m.

Oh ... and this place looks incredibly cool.

#119 ::: Steve Downey ::: (view all by) ::: June 11, 2008, 07:42 PM:

re hydration:
The refrain at camp the last few years has been:

A hydrated Scout is a happy scout.
A dehydrated Scout is a dead scout.
And dead Scouts have no fun.

And we still watch very carefully for any kids who aren't sweaty.

#120 ::: Ambar ::: (view all by) ::: June 11, 2008, 07:52 PM:

I agree with Jane @ 98 -- separate carriers for traveling cats. Even if they normally adore each other, the stress of the unfamiliar may make Alone Space very desirable.

And then there was the time I took two 9mo kittens -- littermates -- into the vet to be neutered, in one carrier. When I arrived to pick them up -- again with one carrier -- they were howling and agitated. I had to borrow a carrier from the vet to get them home. They were howling and agitated for THREE DAYS. Note to self: no ketamine for the Turkish Angoras, ever again.

#121 ::: charlie ::: (view all by) ::: June 11, 2008, 08:01 PM:

Woa, bad call about lightning and caves. I am a caver and folks have been struck more than a mile from the entrance. It traveled along the stream flowing through the cave. I skipped the other comments so if anyone else noted this I'm sorry.

#122 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: June 11, 2008, 08:16 PM:

David, #107: For all that cats are obligate carnivores, some of them still develop odd tastes for vegetables. My partner once heated a dish of frozen mixed vegetables in the microwave, then left it on the table while he went to get his tea. He came back to find my Mina chowing down on his veggies!

This was the same cat who adored tomatoes. She'd steal the tomato slice out of your sandwich if you left it unattended, and we didn't dare leave a fresh tomato sitting on the kitchen counter overnight -- the next morning, its well-gnawed remains would be on the floor. I occasionally gave her half of a cherry tomato as a special treat. She also liked white grapes, peaches, and apples, but not citrus or pineapple.

Re traveling cats: Definitely separate carriers, and you may find that the positioning of the carrier also makes a difference. When we were moving my cats from Nashville to Houston, we discovered that Mina would yowl constantly if she couldn't see out the window, while Genevieve would yowl if she could. We arranged them accordingly, and things were blessedly quiet.

#123 ::: James D. Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: June 11, 2008, 08:51 PM:

#122 It traveled along the stream flowing through the cave.

That falls under the "avoid streams" clause. Because lightning does indeed flow along the ground. If rain (or other) water is going into the cave, the lightning will too. Otherwise, just as I said, get well back from the entrance. The charge will flow past the mouth of the cave.

#124 ::: Nancy C. Mittens ::: (view all by) ::: June 11, 2008, 08:52 PM:

Yay for Amazon's search inside feature:

Here is the recipe for switchel Rikibeth recommended:

brown sugar 1/2 to 3/4 cup, packed
powdered ginger, 1 tsp
Cider vinegar, 1/2 cup homemade

Dissolve brown sugar and ginger in vinegar by shaking or stirring. Add 1 quart cold water, mix, and serve.

From the Little House Cookbook

#125 ::: Constance Ash ::: (view all by) ::: June 11, 2008, 08:56 PM:

The Lightning Field in NM is indeed very cool. Though not temperature-wise, of course. It was a typical excursion when we lived in Albuquerque. I'd kinda forgotten about it by now.

I used to have a cat named Murphy, who loved lettuce. You'd be shredding lettuce for your tacos, whatever, turn your back, and Murph had stolen the lettuce head.

Love, C.

#126 ::: Rikibeth ::: (view all by) ::: June 11, 2008, 08:59 PM:

Nancy C. Mittens, thank you! my copy went walking from the cookbook shelf and I haven't yet found it.

#127 ::: Nancy C. Mittens ::: (view all by) ::: June 11, 2008, 09:20 PM:

My mother-in-law had a cat that would stalk the lettuce in the grocery bags, pounce when your back was turned, and devour it.

#128 ::: Clifton Royston ::: (view all by) ::: June 11, 2008, 09:45 PM:

A number of the cats I've had have particularly liked† ripe cantaloupe, and fresh sweet corn.

† ... as evidenced by trying to steal.

#129 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: June 11, 2008, 09:52 PM:

Lee @#123, re: cat's diet:

Indeed, cats can eat veggies, and if you're feeding them "from scratch" rather than commercial food, they'll need some. If you feed them nothing but meat, they'll get deficiency diseases! (A hunting cat will pick up predigested plant matter from the guts of their herbivorous prey.)

I'd assume that wild felines also know what plants they can eat safely in their natural environment. Domestic cats generally don't (what natural environment? ;-) ), but if they see you eating something, they'll assume it's edible, and if they aren't stuffed with kibble, they'll be happy to try some. (Watch out for chocolate, onions and garlic, which damage their livers.)

#130 ::: C. Wingate ::: (view all by) ::: June 11, 2008, 09:53 PM:

re 49: We're thinking about driving to Montana rather than deal with current airline cost/insanity. I'm currently budgeting for $4.50 gas.

#131 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: June 11, 2008, 10:00 PM:

(Bah, I lost track of my original point.)

...but I still think frozen peas is pushing it, if only because they're likely to have trouble chewing them, and might swallow them whole (and still frozen).

#132 ::: sara ::: (view all by) ::: June 11, 2008, 10:08 PM:

My father is crazy about fishing, which he only gets to do at a lake in New Hampshire where we have spent summer vacations for many years. Fish like dawn and evening and cloudy days; they are especially active just before it begins to rain, which means that we'd stay out on the lake until the last possible moment.

"It's starting to rain."

"They're starting to bite. Another 10 minutes."

But once, as we were still out on the lake and the sky grew darker and more ominous and distant rumbles could be heard, we noticed that my aunt's hair, which she wore long and unconfined, was standing on end. She resembled a dandelion clock or the stereotype of a person touching a Van de Graaf generator.

We headed back to shore pretty fast.

#133 ::: Ginger ::: (view all by) ::: June 11, 2008, 11:00 PM:

120: Be careful to avoid over hydration. Dehydration, while not exactly your friend, will not kill you as quickly as overhydration will. Dehydration is a slower way to die*, and you have time to be treated, whereas over hydration leads to brain swelling, convulsions and rapid death.

I believe someone upthread posted a breakdown of common ways to die at the Grand Canyon, and overhydration was one of them.

*I've been seriously dehydrated, as in renal shutdown (stopped making urine); it took 5 liters of IV fluids before I restarted the kidneys again. I ended up getting a total of 6 liters in about 18 hours, and most of it was in the first 6 hours.

#134 ::: B. Durbin ::: (view all by) ::: June 11, 2008, 11:10 PM:

Steve Downey @120:

I worked at a Scout camp for four years. One notable feature was "punch on the porch," your typical bug juice in large dispensers 24/7. This was the result of some very good thinking on the part of the director, who noted a distressing number of dehydration cases in his early years. His thinking was that eleven-year-olds who have to be forced to drink plain water (really good water, btw) will drink tons of sugar-laced concotions, so he started ordering in 100-pound containers of punch mix. End result? Dehydration cases plunged.

As did the insurance rates once we instituted a "no running in camp" rule. Though we still had a couple of injuries that were due to sheer stupidity, we had fewer of the "trip and fall on granite" variety.

#135 ::: Marilee ::: (view all by) ::: June 11, 2008, 11:35 PM:

Adrian, #31, I have to drink 32oz of rehydration fluid every day and when I had to stop Gatorade (my blood sugar was going up), I started this. This was originally designed in the giant amounts to put in big coolers at workplaces like yours, but it comes in the little water bottle packets now. It has Splenda instead of sugar and HFCS. Actually, if you want the sugar, you can get any of the electrolyte packets -- ester gum is used to keep oil and water together and you don't have to worry about that with the packets.

Bruce Cohen, #35, no glass in the sand?

Keith, #55, I would definitely drive the car separately with the cats. It will probably be a bit more gas than towing it, but it's a lot safer for the cats.

Xopher, #80, when people hit their 40s or 50s, they can have trouble drinking water without something in it. It's encouraged to put something like lemon in water for the elderly because the older you get, the less you recognize thirst.

Nancy C. Mittens, #125, that recipe may taste good, but it doesn't actually have electrolytes in it, which is what you need if you're really dehydrated.

#136 ::: heresiarch ::: (view all by) ::: June 12, 2008, 04:14 AM:

I am happy, when I'm sad
I've got lightning, in a bag
I'm useless, but not for long
My sumer is icumen on.

(Anyone who actually knows Middle English, feel free to rework it.)

#137 ::: dcb ::: (view all by) ::: June 12, 2008, 04:24 AM:

My cats mug me for "green stuff". One even tries to climb into the refrigerator (from which all good things come). She adores cauliflower leaves, and I have the video to prove it. They both graze when we take them outside.

Wild cats also eat vegetation. I did some bibliographical research on the natural history of snow leopards (Uncia uncia) recently. Turns out they deliberately eat certain plants. No info. yet on why they choose the ones they do, but it's a significant part of their diet: 10% to 38% of droppings contained vegetable matter.

#138 ::: Kendra ::: (view all by) ::: June 12, 2008, 04:33 AM:

Jane @ 98: Good suggestions to keep cats calm, but NO oral diazepam (valium)! It has been shown to cause liver failure in cats. Injectable (as in what your veterinarian would give at the clinic) is ok...

#139 ::: John L ::: (view all by) ::: June 12, 2008, 07:20 AM:

Lee @123,

I grow fresh tomatoes, and several years ago I kept finding the ones I picked and left on the counter...chewed. Or clawed. Or something. They had claw marks and some of the skin was removed, and then vigorously scrubbed with something rough.

Then I caught my oldest cat, an orange tom named Alex, climbing up on the counter and wrapping himself around a fresh tomato. Hanging onto it with both front feet (hence the claw marks), he bit it until the skin came off, then washed and washed and washed it. Never realized some cats would like veggies, but then, he also ate broccoli (steamed, w/o cheese) so I should have known better...

#140 ::: Charlie Stross ::: (view all by) ::: June 12, 2008, 07:32 AM:

Apropos Kendra @139: it's generally a bad idea to use any medication on a cat or dog without veterinary advice.

(You probably know all this, but ...)

Firstly, our medicines come in dosages calculated for an adult human being, typically weighing somewhere between 50 and 150 kilograms. We have a technical term for a cat that weighs between 50 and 150 kilograms; we call it a Cougar. Domestic cats are typically in the range of 5-10% of human body weight, so feeding Tiddles a human-sized dose of just about anything is going to give him an overdose. (The consequences may not be fatal but they're unlikely to be pleasant.)

Secondly, even mammals may respond very differently to drugs than human beings. Rats are all but immune to alcohol -- to get a rat even mildly tipsy takes the alcohol equivalent of thirty or forty pints of strong ale (adjusted to their body weight, of course). Cats respond to opiates as if they're a strong stimulant. Chocolate is poisonous to dogs and cats (and many other mammals), although they may like the taste. Cats break down aspirin far more slowly than humans, and aspirin poisoning can kill them (it should only ever be used under veterinary supervision -- tiny doses, 48-72 hours apart). And so on.

Upshot: always check with your vet before giving medicine to your pets. Otherwise you might make them extremely ill, or kill them.

#141 ::: Carrie S. ::: (view all by) ::: June 12, 2008, 08:39 AM:

The frozen peas were for TW's rodents. For cats, I think you'd want to freeze something else, like tuna.

The late lamented Ares loved frozen peas. He did, as Dave Harmon suggests at #132, swallow them whole and still frozen, but it never appeared to bother him.

All this talk about lightning makes me wonder if the Pennsic stave church has a lightning rod. Barring the occasional flagpole it's easily the tallest thing on the Serengeti (the broad, flat field a lot of people camp on). I'm pretty sure the Little House on the Flatbed doesn't have one, but it's not as dramatically taller than everything around it.

Me, I camp down by the lake. The trees'll get it before I do.

#142 ::: R. M. Koske ::: (view all by) ::: June 12, 2008, 08:51 AM:

#125, Nancy C. Mittens -

Ooh, thanks!

And thanks for the effort, Rikibeth, especially since it turned out to be more trouble than you expected.

#143 ::: Tlönista ::: (view all by) ::: June 12, 2008, 08:56 AM:

My old dog back home is a veritable frozen pea fiend, and loved to catch them in her mouth. Unfortunately, like her other favourite treats -- cheese and dried pigs' ears -- they give her horrible gas and she can't have them anymore. It's for the best.

#144 ::: Diatryma ::: (view all by) ::: June 12, 2008, 09:00 AM:

I am a bit amused at myself that after reading the thread, I'm heading to class through lots of rain and thunder close enough to hear the clap. If I'm struck by lightning, I'll post pictures.

#145 ::: Keith ::: (view all by) ::: June 12, 2008, 09:41 AM:

I think we're going to go with one large carrier and one of our medium sized carriers and leave them open so the cats can figure out their comfort levels in the car and still have a safe spot to hide. Rupert tends to like windows a lot more than Lucy so we suspect he'll want to sit on my wife's lap or in the back window. Lucy will very likely curl up in some corner of the carrier and snooze for the trip, especially if we give her some catnip about a half hour before we leave.

#146 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: June 12, 2008, 09:59 AM:

My cat Motley would eat anything dropped on the kitchen floor, including frozen peas. They never seemed to hurt her (but she was eating them in ones and twos, not in quantity).

#147 ::: Faren Miller ::: (view all by) ::: June 12, 2008, 11:29 AM:

The comments on rehydration said caffeinated things don't help, but how about decaf or naturally caffeine-free beverages? At least half my coffee drinking is decaf, and most of my teas lack it as well.

(Sent after/during? a sneezing fit in drought-ridden AZ.)

#148 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: June 12, 2008, 11:35 AM:

Faren Miller (148): Caffeinated things *do* help, they just don't help as much. The only (nonpoisonous) liquids that don't help are things with alcohol. Alcohol dehydrates you further.

#149 ::: Ledasmom ::: (view all by) ::: June 12, 2008, 12:15 PM:

When I was young we had a cat who liked green beans and, though not as much, peas-in-the-pod. We also had a garden. The bush beans used to have lots of half-eaten beans hanging off them.

#150 ::: joann ::: (view all by) ::: June 12, 2008, 12:37 PM:

Back almost forty years ago when we moved from Kentucky to Texas, we had a car with bench seats. Where the cat eventually wound up was on the top of the front seat, draped around the driver's neck. Vastly unsafe, I know, but what can you do?

As far as cats and veggies go, that cat's brother had been very fond of tomatoes, as well as just about anything that didn't eat him first.

We now keep a pot of cat grass growing in the breakfast room window.

#151 ::: Caroline ::: (view all by) ::: June 12, 2008, 12:49 PM:

dcb, I think your cats and mine are related. My cats will eat anything green they can get their paws on. Salads are in more danger than roasts in my house -- leave one on the counter and like as not you'll return to find two little furry buggers noshing away at the lettuce. They beg for broccoli, particularly homegrown broccoli (it's sweeter) and will run off with snow peas. So far they only lick baby carrots -- carnivore teeth are not well suited to carrots.

Photographic evidence of one cat eating delicious lettuce.

#152 ::: Jenny Islander ::: (view all by) ::: June 12, 2008, 12:53 PM:

Werelizard, #36: You too? This has been the grayest, gloomiest, clammiest spring I can remember in Kodiak. Green-up was a month late. On the positive side, we didn't have our usual muddy couple of weeks during which the ground thawed all at once before the seeds could get started. And the mosquitoes got started late as well. On the very, very large negative side, bears are everywhere, and I mean EVERYWHERE. I think this is connected with the hard winter and late spring. My husband and I don't feel safe going to a beach or down a trail just as a family, for the first time ever.

As for heatstroke and other heat illness: I know people get it, I know it's serious, but I can't actually say I know anybody who has had it. Severe sunburn, yes--people tend to underestimate the intensity of the sunlight at 58 degrees north.

#153 ::: Nancy C. Mittens ::: (view all by) ::: June 12, 2008, 01:23 PM:

Jenny, my brother lived in Anchorage for a year, and when he came back for Easter in April, the weather here was in the 70s. I have never seen anyone break a sweat sitting still when the temperature is in the 70s before, or since.

#154 ::: dcb ::: (view all by) ::: June 12, 2008, 01:50 PM:

Caroline @ 152

Lovely picture of your cat, and so nice to know mine are not the only ones.

The funniest thing about the video of mine is that, by chance, there's an open bag of cat food just in front of the vegetable rack - so there's this cat, ignoring the cat food and munching the veggies!

#155 ::: T.W ::: (view all by) ::: June 12, 2008, 02:00 PM:

Our former cat loved fries which turned into a great way to keep his salt levels going in the heat of summer when he would otherwise stop eating kibbles.
He would eat a couple then run to the sink and demand the water be turned on for him, guzzle for a bit then take a nap.

#156 ::: oliviacw ::: (view all by) ::: June 12, 2008, 02:09 PM:

We had a cap who liked bananas - he enjoyed licking them to get little bits of mush at a time. Takes a long time to eat a banana that way!

#157 ::: Clifton Royston ::: (view all by) ::: June 12, 2008, 02:35 PM:

Kendra @ 139, are you sure about that? Or is it a fairly recent discovery? Our vet, who I believe to be a good one, prescribed oral valium for our cats several years back, for high-stress situations. (Hawaii New Years == massive quantities of firecrackers and fireworks, Chinese style == severely freaked-out cats.)

#158 ::: Ginger ::: (view all by) ::: June 12, 2008, 03:42 PM:

139, 158:

I've got my Plumb's Veterinary Drug Handbook, Sixth Edition (2008) in front of me:

Contraindications: hypersensitivity to benzodiazepines, cats exposed to chlorpyrifos, significant liver disease (especially in cats).

Adverse effects: Cats may exhibit changes in behavior (irritability, depression, aberrant behavior) after receiving diazepam. There have been reports of cats developing liver failure after receiving oral diazepam (not dose dependent) for several days. Clinical signs (anorexia, lethargy, increased AST/ALT, hyperbilirubinemia) have been reported to occur 5-11 days after beginning oral therapy. Cats that recieve diazepam should have baseline liver function tests. These should be repeated and the drug discontinued if emesis, lethargy, inappetence or ataxia develops.

Wedgewood Pharmacy online (here) notes that diazepam can cause liver failure: "Liver failure is a rare but serious side effect that can occur in cats after recieving oral diazepam for several days. Affected cats do not have a prior history of liver disease or elevated enzymes. The cause of this hepatic toxicity is not known at this time."

I've used it in cats, in private practice. It has its uses, particularly in sick cats with inappetence, for anxiety, seizure disorders, and so on. This liver failure is a rare adverse effect, but it should be considered when using it.

It's not what I suggested above for control of anxiety in traveling cats.

#159 ::: Marilee ::: (view all by) ::: June 12, 2008, 07:03 PM:

A teenager here in Virginia had lightning go through her after it came through the barn's weathervane. It went from her elbow to the hay and the barn burned, but they got all the people & horses out. (Most of the story is near the bottom of the first page.)

#160 ::: Seth Breidbart ::: (view all by) ::: June 12, 2008, 08:25 PM:

If you want to get struck by lightning, be a male, on a golf course, in Florida, on Saturday, in July, at four p.m.

Or if you're in that situation and don't want to get hit by lightning, just hold up your 1-iron. Even God can't hit a 1-iron.

#161 ::: Clifton Royston ::: (view all by) ::: June 12, 2008, 08:30 PM:

Thanks, Ginger! I haven't given it to my cats in quite a while, but I'll bear that in mind in the future.

#162 ::: Paula Helm Murray ::: (view all by) ::: June 12, 2008, 09:13 PM:

Bleep! I'm hearing thunder. And it appears to be heading toward the confluence of the Kaw and Missouri Rivers which is not too far. (old airport forms the east side of the Missouri River, the Kaw heads west about at the southwest point of the air field.

And there's a Boy Scout camp, probably currently in use, in the middle of the severe thunderstorm warning right now.

It's getting scary, the volume of rain we have received is approaching what we got in 1993. Flush!

And I just saw some lightning off to the northwest.

#163 ::: Paula Helm Murray ::: (view all by) ::: June 12, 2008, 09:47 PM:

woohoo, I've got the western window next to my desk and it's just open about 1/2 inch. And I got a small spray of rain.

sounds like bits o'hail too, and lots of thunder and lightning. I'm off the power though (we have a wireless router that pretty much serves the whole house now).

And the spinny bits worked themselves off the weather map so it's just severe thunderstorms. Yaay.

#164 ::: Allan Beatty ::: (view all by) ::: June 12, 2008, 10:45 PM:

This thread has certainly been enlightening, and I wouldn't have believed cats eating fruit without the photographic evidence that some of you have linked to. With all the cats we'vwe had over the years, I've never seen one eat food with a high acid content. Sure, they'd eat corn, spinach, potato chips, cotton candy, chocolate (we put a stop to that!), and they'd eat peanuts if their teeth could handle it. We've had a cat that liked to let the faucet drip on him and a cat that likes to go to the vet. But no feline fructivores.

#165 ::: Paula Helm Murray ::: (view all by) ::: June 12, 2008, 11:38 PM:

Allan, fortunately one of my favorite cats, Fergal, liked riding in the car and adored the lady vet. So we were able to carry him about 18 months beyond his initial 'he'll be dead by xxx" when he got kidney disease.

He also didn't bother me with the stuff I had to do to keep him going, like occasional sub-q hydration and everyday pills.

My very first boy cat had to be euthanized at about 10 or 11 because he got kidney disease and turned into an evil biting, snarling, shitting, pissing, nasty animal at the vet. It wouldn't have been fair to him or my vet's staff, who I love dearly.

#166 ::: Jenny Islander ::: (view all by) ::: June 13, 2008, 03:23 AM:

Nancy @154: When I was 13, I won the state spelling bee for the first time and flew (out of the state for the first time since I flew in at 18 months) to Washington, DC. Having been warned sternly that I Was Representing Kodiak And Should Dress Accordingly, I found myself blundering breathlessly along in my only T-shirt ("Dear Auntie Em: Hate you, hate Kansas, taking the dog--Dorothy.") and discovering that my antiperspirant didn't. I remember gaping at a well-groomed man who strode down the sidewalk dressed in a three-piece suit with one of those long trenchcoat things and gloves. I couldn't figure out how he was surviving. I mean, it was 70 degrees! In March!!

#167 ::: Ingvar M ::: (view all by) ::: June 13, 2008, 07:13 AM:

Jim, there is a third good reason to not seeking protection under a tree. If a tree is hit by lightning, the sap may superheat and fill the air with very rapdily moving wooden splinter. If you survive the piercing damage, the wood splinters are then damned hard to get out surgically.

#168 ::: Diatryma ::: (view all by) ::: June 13, 2008, 11:10 AM:

Was not struck by lightning. However, my home internet is down. 1993 levels of rain are one thing-- we're at or expected to meet 1993 flooding out here in Iowa. I'm well uphill of everything, but my ISP is not.

My cat will eat lots of people food. She's interested in anything I eat, but especially likes Cheerios-- she chases them and pounces if I fling one on the floor for her-- Ritz Bits sandwiches with cheez, and chives. No interest in cat grass-- I guess the poisonous part of chives makes them delicious.

#169 ::: Strata Chalup ::: (view all by) ::: June 13, 2008, 03:07 PM:

Year sabbatical in an old RV, with cats, no A/C for most of it (while driving). Cats would hide under couch and soak up all the chassis and road heat, and be little panting rags at the end of a day's drive. I would soak dishtowels, wrap around icepacks and put them next to kitty tummies.

On a really bad move once their gums turned bright red, which is a DANGER hyperthermia sign. We stopped travelling after 11am after that. :-(

We finally found that our generator had been miswired, such that it could not run the Air Conditioner while going down the road. When we got that fixed, we could keep the RV comfortable for us and cats, and didn't have the same problem.

Kitties were about 9 or 10 years old at the time.

One of these cats came to me as a kitten at an SCA event, and when I had to take her home, in my non-AC car, she was suffering from the heat. I kept her damp by wetting my hand and petting her, and having her on a damp towel, in an improvised picnic-basket cat carrier belted into the passenger seat. She has been much more 'into' water than most cats ever since then, routinely sticking her head under the faucet and coming to jump on me with wet feet and shoulders.

She is also our Foot Drinker cat, eg, the one who makes it so we have to keep the water dish on a giant cafeteria tray. It's the only way to contain the water for Mrs SplishySplash.

#170 ::: James D. Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: June 13, 2008, 03:33 PM:

#22 Fidelio:

Re, tornadoes, here is an excellent page on preparing for and dealing with them:

The short version:

A Tornado Watch means that favorable conditions exist for the formation of tornadoes. A Tornado Warning means that one has been sighted, or is expected within the next 30-60 minutes.

Have a plan; know what you're going to do in case of a Tornado Warning, and drill it.

Get a NOAA weather radio with tone-alert feature. Use it.

Prepare a disaster kit.

The safest place to be is a small, interior room away from windows, as low in your house as you can get. (Underground by preference.) No corner is safer than any other corner.

If you're in a mobile home or car, get into the nearest sturdy building.

#171 ::: fidelio ::: (view all by) ::: June 13, 2008, 03:39 PM:

Thanks, Jim.

Having lived in Tornado Alley all my life, and having a fondness for Planning Ahead, I'm always surprised by people who don't know this sort of thing, or who waste time running around opening windows when they should be heading for the closet under the stairs, or the basement.

#172 ::: Ginger ::: (view all by) ::: June 13, 2008, 05:10 PM:

Strata Chalup @ 170: I have a Foot Drinker too! Brady will not drink directly from a bowl; he starts by dipping his paw and licking it, and then proceeds to drink with his paw next to his face. One of these days I will videotape him.

Kedgie must arrange the water in the bowl first, or perhaps strain it with her claws, but then she drinks like a regular cat.

My previous water-playing cat was also the Veggie Hound; I could not leave out bok choy or bean sprouts, and I had to eat my canteloup while standing. Rcat was a mellow fellow who hissed only at the vacuum cleaner, and he was my only blue-eyed cat.

#173 ::: joann ::: (view all by) ::: June 13, 2008, 06:40 PM:

Ginger #173:

Sophie drinks backwards: somehow almost all the water ends up flying away from her, and only a little makes it onto her tongue and into her mouth. Spectacularly messy, and makes it a rather drawn-out process. I guess mama cat never got round to teaching her how.

#174 ::: Marilee ::: (view all by) ::: June 13, 2008, 10:56 PM:

Jenny Islander, #167, I flew into Kodiak when I was six weeks old. Dad was already there, but Mother had been too pregnant to fly. We were there two years and then transferred to Whidbey Island, where I thought we lived in O'Carber until I learned to read.

Diatryma, #169, I hope the surge passes with as little damage as possible. I just had a quarter of a baby watermelon and the cats insisted on some, but when I gave them a bit, they looked at me as if I'd lied.

#175 ::: Allan Beatty ::: (view all by) ::: June 14, 2008, 12:07 AM:

Ginger, Strata Chalup: We had a water cat too. That's how he lived with kidney disease for a year without any sub-q fluids. We just left the faucet to drip around the clock and he would sit under it much of the day, licking off his legs.

#176 ::: Thena ::: (view all by) ::: June 15, 2008, 08:50 AM:

Jim McD -

I saw on the weather page that your area went from 100F last Monday to a frost warning Thursday night.

I just want to say, for the record, that even for Northern New England that's crazy.


#177 ::: joann ::: (view all by) ::: June 15, 2008, 05:21 PM:

Thena #177:

I have also got to say that seeing a tornado warning the other day on the NOAA watch/warning map, for places in Vermont and/or upstate New York, was a definite first.

#178 ::: dcb ::: (view all by) ::: June 15, 2008, 05:56 PM:

Ginger @ 173, joann @174

Our cats reject bowls of water; they prefer mugs - probably because that's what humans use. One of them paws at the mug, making the water move, and staring intently as she does so - I presume so she can see the exact level for drinking. When she doesn't do this, she often ends up sneezing and shaking water out of her nose, having stuck her face too far into the water.

#179 ::: Ginger ::: (view all by) ::: June 16, 2008, 03:33 PM:

dcb@179: Cats do not see very well up close; the lens does not accommodate very well. They are neither near- nor far-sighted (that is, the light coming through the lens does not fall in front of the retina nor behind the retina).

Lens accommodation is what you see (or not) when you switch from reading up close (or needlepoint, or other close work) to looking across the room at the television. It's why your eyes get tired after you've driven a long time. As you get older, the lens is less elastic and the accommodation slows down.

Cat lenses are very large, in comparison to the size of the total eye; this gives them the ability to gather in lots of light. The trade-off is their lenses don't change shape very well, whereas ours do. Thus they have difficulty focusing on very close objects, and must dip their noses into the water before drinking. ;-)

#180 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: June 16, 2008, 04:23 PM:

My cat insists on drinking from a tap. In my old apartment, she could jump up from the edge of the tub onto the sink, though she got more awkward as she got fatter. In my new place, unfortunately, she can't do that (too far), so I have to run the tub faucet for her. The stream from that is uneven enough that she invariably comes to me with the top of her head soaked, wanting me to brush it through the rest of her fur.

She always wants to smell and/or lick whatever I'm eating, but she only actually eats fish, chicken, or beef, and maybe some cheeses. Marilee @#175 pretty well described her reaction to other foods. I don't give her too much of any human food, as she's already plenty fat enough. I've had enough trouble finding a "diet" kibble she won't turn up her nose at.

#181 ::: Marilee ::: (view all by) ::: June 16, 2008, 11:38 PM:

Spirit is losing weight again, so I'm going to have to give her more protein. I'm going to try tuna for a while instead of cooking skinless boneless chicken thighs in the microwave, dicing, and putting them up in the freezer.

Shiva likes to drink from my bathroom's sink faucet, but he has an elaborate ritual before he'll get up there and drink. He's also started grabbing Spirit with his gums (his teeth were taken out last month) and he can hold her tightly enough that she can't get away!

#182 ::: Ginger ::: (view all by) ::: June 17, 2008, 10:21 AM:

Someone ought to develop and market canned mouse for the feline owners. ;-)

High protein, high taurine..complete nutrition in one mouse (fed grains/grasses)..what's not to like?

#183 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: June 17, 2008, 10:39 AM:

Ginger @ 183... Someone ought to develop and market canned mouse for the feline owners

That unfortunately reminds me of the scene from David Lynch's Dune where the Beast Rhaban puts a mouse inside a glass cylinder then presses the top down until all the juices come out at the bottom and into his mouth. Yuch. I guess I should have expected no less from the actor who played Bluto in Altman's Popeye. ("He's large!")

#184 ::: Ginger ::: (view all by) ::: June 17, 2008, 11:04 AM:

That is unfortunate. I don't think cats would like Dune Worms.

#185 ::: Graydon ::: (view all by) ::: June 17, 2008, 11:38 AM:

Cats in general have a bias against drinking stagnant water. I have a small drinking fountain thing—a small plastic bucket with a filter, pump, and convex top for the water to run over—obtained for about 20 dollars from a pet store. Aoife entirely prefers this for drinking; the water bowl is for ritually drowning foodstuffs as the mood strikes her.

#186 ::: VCarlson ::: (view all by) ::: June 17, 2008, 02:17 PM:

WRT to cats and kidney disease, might I recommend Lactated Ringer's for those who don't already know of it? The normal saline, being simple salt water, stings.

When my youngest cat (now 9) went into renal failure (Urinary Infection) and recovered after an expensive stay at the emergency vet's (not expected to live as much as a year - that was over 1.5 years ago), and was sent home with supplies, Lactated Ringer's (LR) was what they sent, explaining about the stinging. My regular vet doesn't have that on hand, so I bought a bag of Normal Saline. Once. She really really didn't like it. Since with the LR she accepted it while not being exactly joyful, I went back to that. She now gets the subcutaneous fluids every 6 days, and I'm thinking about taking her to the local vet teaching hospital and asking about kidney stone removal, something they're known for.

My oldest cat (19), diagnosed with kidney disease 2.5 years ago was doing fine on the kidney diet until she started showing signs of getting worse about 10 months ago. She now gets SQ fluids every other day. Again with the LR, which my vet now orders by the case on my behalf. The expensive part is the tubing sets.

#187 ::: VCarlson ::: (view all by) ::: June 17, 2008, 02:22 PM:

Oh, yeah - I also have a fountain, which they all love, though the youngest, who sometimes goes by the name "water finder cat," also likes to drink drips out of the tap - but only if I'm there. She also likes the water supply that uses a soda bottle as the reservoir - when it's nice and full she can grab it and move it enough to make it bubble, which delights her. I live in a split, and keep a water supply available to the cats on each level.

#188 ::: John L ::: (view all by) ::: June 17, 2008, 03:15 PM:

My wife kept our first cat alive for over 2 years by giving him IV twice daily after his kidneys began failing. He lived to be 16 years old and when the vet told us his kidneys had about 5% functionality left, we had him put to sleep rather than see him suffer.

Our third cat, however, did not respond at all to the IV treatment when her kidneys began failing; she went from relatively healthy to unable to move at all in less than a week despite our best efforts to help her.

One of our cats now is what we call a "lounging eater". She plops down by the food dish or water bowl and either drags her food to her with a paw or dips her head over the bowl and drinks.

#189 ::: T.W ::: (view all by) ::: June 18, 2008, 02:38 AM:

So the Society For Creative Anachronisms' board of directors has decide the risk of being sued over cooties from drinking straws is bad enough and the effort of meeting health codes too difficult that there will no longer be an official infrastructure or endorsement of providing beverages at events. Somehow they expect everyone to just maintain on their own unofficially the service of keeping participants hydrated.
This is going to end well. Swarms of people in armor on the fields in the mid day summer sun.

#190 ::: dcb ::: (view all by) ::: June 18, 2008, 06:06 AM:

Ginger @ 180
Re. cats and their eyesight: It's her solution to the problem that's so funny, and the intensity with which she stares into the mug while rocking it with a forepaw. Then she still sometimes gets it wrong and sneezes water everywhere.

David Harmon @ 181
"She always wants to smell and/or lick whatever I'm eating" My "greens loving" cat won't leave me alone when I'm eating an apple, but although she'll occasionally lick the core if I give it to her, mostly she just takes one sniff then ignores it!

186 ::: Graydon @ 186
"the water bowl is for ritually drowning foodstuffs as the mood strikes her" For one of our cats, it's her favourite toy which regularly gets "drowned". Another reason why I can't leave my bedtime mug of tea on the top of the bedside locker...

VCarlson @ 188
We have seven water sources (mugs and one jug) around the house for the cats at present. Which ones are favourites varies from week to week. After two bouts of ideopathic cystitis, the second of which I successfully treated in under 24 hours by encouraging LOTS of drinking (from a hand-held teaspoon), we make sure that wherever the cats are when they remember they want a drink, they can get one.

#191 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: June 18, 2008, 07:09 AM:

Graydon @ VCarlson: I couldn't find such fountains at my local pet store, and I looked! Do you have a reference to the company, or better, an online source?

#192 ::: dcb ::: (view all by) ::: June 18, 2008, 07:54 AM:

David Harmon @ 192

See: ""
My sister-in-law's cats like that one.

Or look on Amazon - put in "cat drinking fountain" and lots come up!

VCarlson @ 187
Sympathies for your kidney-failure cat. Hope the fluids help for a good while

#193 ::: Scott Taylor ::: (view all by) ::: June 18, 2008, 08:53 AM:

TW @ 190 -
So the Society For Creative Anachronisms' board of directors has decide the risk of being sued over cooties from drinking straws is bad enough and the effort of meeting health codes too difficult that there will no longer be an official infrastructure or endorsement of providing beverages at events. Somehow they expect everyone to just maintain on their own unofficially the service of keeping participants hydrated.

Have the Chiurgeons informed them in no uncertain terms that the possible legal ramifications of not meeting basic needs like "hydration at a large summer outdoor event" way outweigh possible cootie lawsuits, and above and beyond that, it's basic human decency?

Christ on a crutch - Pennsic without water trucks, etc. is just bloody damn stupid. hell, it's probably impossible. Nice of them to make this decision, what, a month, month and a half before the War?

This is going to end well. Swarms of people in armor on the fields in the mid day summer sun.

This is going to end in deaths from heat stroke, and the massed Chiurgeonate of the East, Mid, and Aethelmarc (not to mention the western and southern kingdoms) walking off the field in disgust. This is lunacy - is someone trying to kill off all summer events, or something?

Lord Richard Michael Cameron, formerly of Aethelmarc, formerly of House Raven's Nest.

#194 ::: Carrie S. ::: (view all by) ::: June 18, 2008, 08:53 AM:

This is going to end well. Swarms of people in armor on the fields in the mid day summer sun.

Oh dear.

I don't fight and neither does Liam, but I have a couple of friends who do. At least most of them have a few remaining brain cells and will make arrangements.

I imagine, though, that waterbearing will happen much like it always does, just without official sanction; there are a lot of people who do it every year. But we'll probably end up with more heat cases than usual. Makes me oh so very glad I'm not a chiurgeon.

#195 ::: Carrie S. ::: (view all by) ::: June 18, 2008, 09:03 AM:

Pennsic without water trucks, etc. is just bloody damn stupid. hell, it's probably impossible. Nice of them to make this decision, what, a month, month and a half before the War?

Five weeks and three days till landgrab on the 26th of July.

Yeah, entirely idiotic. All we can do is hope the usual folks get together and say "screw this, we're doing it anyway".

the massed Chiurgeonate of the East, Mid, and Aethelmarc (not to mention the western and southern kingdoms) walking off the field in disgust.

Last year (or was it the year before?) there was some sort of kerfuffle over the chiurgeonate*, and War ended up with EMS folks from Portersville taking over. So they can't walk off the field, because they're not on it, at least at Pennsic.

Me, I go to War for the classes and some shopping, and things like this make me very happy about that.

* Not entirely unjustified: things like MDs having to take orders from folks with Red Cross CPR cards because the MD was a more junior chiurgeon.

#196 ::: Liam T ::: (view all by) ::: June 18, 2008, 06:56 PM:

While I never fight in the SCA (armor, heat, bashing each other over the head with unfinished pieces of lawn furniture), the wrong change in Pennsic rules would change What I Do on My Summer Vacation, so I looked it up. And what the SCA is proposing is buying reusable hydration bottles and racks for general use in order to cut down on transmission of communicable disease (hepatitis, herpes, more interesting stuff) rather than relying on everyone knowing whether or not that funny feeling in the lips, throat, whatever, is something to worry about. A good use of some cut of what I pay for Pennisc every year, I'd say. Although, I do wonder how many non-contact squeeze bottles will get lost in the shuffle during War this year.

#197 ::: Marilee ::: (view all by) ::: June 18, 2008, 11:57 PM:

Graydon, when I had one of those fountains, Shiva wouldn't drink out of it, either. And then the fountain started growing stuff and even when I took it apart, put it through the dishwasher twice, there was always more stuff. It was in the impeller. So I went back to a fresh pyrex bowl of water every morning. He'll drink from that if I'm not in the bathroom when he's thirsty.

#198 ::: Erik Nelson ::: (view all by) ::: June 20, 2008, 09:25 PM:

I don't quite understand what you are saying about needing salty snacks. I thought salt was something to avoid too much of.

Also, I take hydrochlorothiazide and lisinopril as a prescription for blood pressure, and I feel it has some influence on the way my body hydrates and the way it tolerates heat. How should I deal with that?

#199 ::: James D. Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: June 20, 2008, 10:00 PM:

You want to avoid too much salt, but what "too much" is ... varies.

When you sweat you lose electrolytes, too, and electrolytes (sodium, potassium, calcium, bicarbonate) in general are a really vital part of your body chemistry. Flushing out the electrolytes can give you water intoxication and (perhaps) some serious consequences. You definitely need to replace what you lose.

I recommend salty snacks rather than things like salt pills (which can really rip your body chemistry).

Various medications affect the way bodies thermoregulate. Blood pressure medications are frequently mentioned in regard to hyperthermia. Check with your doctor for your specific meds, and your specific situation.

#200 ::: James D. Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: June 04, 2009, 06:19 PM:

We're getting into heat-stress and lightning strike season.

Stay safe.

#201 ::: James D. Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: June 11, 2009, 10:59 PM:

Another lightning-strike fatality.

This storm delivered 4,000 lightning strikes over 2/3 of the state of Indiana in just fifteen minutes.

#202 ::: James D. Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: June 11, 2009, 11:11 PM:

The Fundamentals of Lightning Protection

Lightning safety should be practiced by all people during thunderstorms. Preparedness includes: get indoors or in a car; avoid water and all metal objects; get off the high ground; avoid solitary trees; stay off the telephone. If caught outdoors during nearby lightning, adopt the Lightning Safety Position (LSP). LSP means staying away from other people, taking off all metal objects, crouching with feet together, head bowed, and placing hands on ears to reduce acoustic shock.

Build your own lightning detector

#204 ::: David Goldfarb ::: (view all by) ::: June 09, 2011, 06:03 AM:

If I'm reading the story right, nearly all of them were just "send them to be checked out just in case," and only two of them actually needed an ambulance. Just saying.

#205 ::: James D. Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: June 09, 2011, 06:08 AM:

Well, we're in Mass Casualty Incident territory when you have 77 patients. You haul 'em any way you can, and if what you have is buses, you use buses. Their condition is reported as "stable and responsive," rather than "treated and released," so it's a bit early to tell how badly they were injured.

#207 ::: David Harmon sees spam ::: (view all by) ::: March 22, 2012, 09:25 PM:

blog pitch? Somehow I doubt it.

#208 ::: Singing Wren ::: (view all by) ::: July 20, 2012, 10:34 PM:

I know this is an old thread, but I recently came across a rule of thumb that seems appropriate to share here:

It's called the 30/30 rule, and it's quite simple. If you see lightning, count to 30 as one-one-thousand, two-one-thousand (or your preferred method of counting seconds). If you hear thunder before you reach 30 seconds, suspend your outdoor event and have everyone take shelter for 30 minutes. The 30 minute counter resets every time there's another lightning strike within six miles. (Every 5 seconds between lightning and thunder puts you about a mile away, so 30 seconds is about 6 miles.)

This rule of thumb brought to you by the SCCA, whose members like to play outside with their cars during summer thunderstorm season. On the bright side, we always have lots of Faraday cages available to shelter in.

#209 ::: Naomi Parkhurst sees probable spam ::: (view all by) ::: August 15, 2012, 08:49 AM:

Telling a fishy joke, and not a funny one, either.

#211 ::: Rob Rusick ::: (view all by) ::: June 25, 2013, 08:07 PM:

Jim Macdonald @210: Ob xkcd.

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