RoadTrip America

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Surviving Extreme Weather, by Gerrie McCall

Surviving Extreme Weather

Surviving Extreme Weather may look like a boring textbook, but don't be fooled! Gerrie McCall's excellent manual is as riveting as a thriller. Every time I picked it up thinking I'd spend a few minutes browsing, it sucked me in with its compelling, well-researched, not-found-anywhere-else information. It doesn't matter that most of us will probably never be adrift in shark-infested waters or require Inuit techniques for melting ice into drinking water. It's fascinating to learn about skills you never knew existed. In addition, I found I had a lot to learn about how to stay alive in a tornado or a flash flood.

The book contains over 120 black-and-white drawings illustrating techniques and solutions that anyone faced with life-threatening weather situations can use. The prose is simple and easy to understand, (although there are a number of UK-influenced word styles - for example "torch" instead of "flashlight" and "caravan" instead of "mobile home") but McCall does a good job of providing most of the equivalent American forms of these words in the text.

The first two chapters provide valuable tools for understanding weather maps and include a comprehensive overview of basic meteorological concepts. When you complete these two sections, you will have a much better understanding of the forces that combine to create weather in your local area. The third chapter provides some very useful tips for ensuring that your home is weatherproof to the extent possible.

The balance of the book presents tips, drawings, and narrative accounts from survivors who have encountered life-threatening extreme weather situations including hail, floods, tornadoes, hurricanes, extreme cold and heat, and heavy snowfall. The author also shares techniques for surviving if you get lost while hiking or find yourself adrift at sea. Throughout the book, the author provides suggestions for assembling human and pet survival kits to mitigate the effects of various forms of extreme weather. Perhaps the most useful information is the detail she provides about the effect of specific conditions on the human body. Being able to recognize weather-related health symptoms is a critical step to staying alive, and this book provides plenty of information about warning signs and specific steps you can take in the event you are faced with a dangerous situation.

The author has also developed a superb list of online resources for monitoring and responding to extreme weather situations. Anyone living in North America will be affected, in one way or another, by some of these conditions, and Surviving Extreme Weather is an excellent manual for learning how to respond to such threats. In addition, this book is fascinating to read from cover to cover. Weather is the one phenomenon that affects us all, and even if you've never been in a threatening situation, Surviving Extreme Weather will help ensure you're well-prepared when Mother Nature starts playing rough.

Mark Sedenquist

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