Winter weather modifies many things, not the least of which involves personal protection.
There is the obvious -- the clothing that is required to handle cold will require a difference in the way we access our tools -- but there is also the not-so-obvious.
The body handles cold -- cold weather -- by drawing the outer parts of itself closer in. We huddle inside our coats and jackets, shoulders hunched and hands crammed deep inside pockets.
The thing is, if we aren't careful, our sphere of awareness will mimic our physical actions. As we draw our arms in to our chests, tuck our hands into pockets or fingers under arms to conserve warmth; or to keep limbs out of the wind, some people will also retract the range at which they start to notice things.
I see that I have already lost some of my Gentle Readers. Let me clarify:
Everyone notes and classifies things within a certain radius of their body space. Most do it subconsciously, while some of us do it consciously. To use my self as an example, if I am walking down Main Street at the height of summer -- unless someone calls attention to himself -- people are just people until they get within about twenty feet of me.
Once a person is within my twenty-foot radius, I consciously note clothing, body language, general emotional state, breaks in pattern and any intuitive signals from my hindbrain.
During the winter, walking down the same Main Street, in snow, with a cold wind blowing, dodging patches of ice, this twenty-foot radius is almost halved unless I consciously work at it.
So, the same person I would have noted and classified at twenty feet during September, has a good chance of getting to within ten feet of me in January.
Halving the space in which you have to make a decision and react is never a Good Thing.
On top of that, weather conditions themselves become a hindrance. Frozen water -- sleet, snow, ice -- is slick. Actions and reactions which are second nature on dry ground, will dump you upon your fourth point of contact when -- unconsciously -- performed on ice.
I studied Kodokan judo for some years. People who know of this invariably congratulate me on my choice, either due to the "superiority" of grappling styles in referee'd, ruled fighting games, or the full-speed sparring, or the encyclopaedic knowledge of chokeholds.
Those may be good reasons, but the best thing that judo taught me was how to fall. And it made breakfalls a reflexive action.
Do you know how to fall?
If you're around ice, it might be a worthwhile skill to pursue.
Slick ice may also interfere with, reduce, or outright eliminate our options. Faced with a developing situation, oft times the best option is to avoid -- to run away before the situation escalates to the point of requiring a deadly force decision.
It can be difficult to run on ice. A vehicle -- usually a fine way to escape a situation -- may be totally immobilized on ice. Could you be spinning your wheels, or sliding slowly sideways, while the critter you are trying to avoid walks up to the side of your vehicle?
These are things to think about, to consider, and to plan for.
My Gentle Readers have no doubt practised some fighting (shooting, knifing, whatever) from various prone positions. Has the act of drawing from prone also been practised? Has this practise been done in full winter gear? Gloves, scarf, winter coat, sweater?
Not only that, but warm weather practise is practise for warm weather situations.
Have you practised in the snow? In the cold? If not, how do you teach your body and your subconscious what to expect?
Winter also has an effect upon your tools. There is the famous example of lubricants that thicken and disturb function in low temperatures. A Bad Thing, but one most prepared people know of.
Fewer know that low temperatures can have an adverse effect upon battery life -- and given the number of tools that require batteries for some part of their function, this can be a Life Altering Development.
When I worked midnights, I habitually walked the business district of my town at midnight, checking that each door was locked and secure.
One Panhandle winter night -- temperatures below freezing -- I walked along checking doors with my pistol holster protruding through a slot in my jacket waistband to allow for a quick draw if necessary.
As noted, the temperature was below freezing, and my exposed metal pistol -- riding outside my jacket away from body heat -- cooled.
My walk done, I went back to Dispatch, poured a cup of coffee and warmed up. In a small, closed room, with four adults exhaling moisture into the air, wet carpet, coffee-pot steaming -- in other words a mildly humid atmosphere.
This moisture condensed -- obeying the laws of physics -- onto cold items in the room.
The break was interrupted by a 10-50 MVA (motor vehicle accident) and I spent the next half-hour directing traffic as the VFD and EMS pried someone out of a car. Out in the cold. Where the moisture that had condensed on -- and in -- my pistol froze.
I doubt that the tiny amount of ice present would have had any effect on the functioning of my pistol. However, it was not something that my fair-weather summer training had prepared me for, and that disconcerted me quite a bit.
Something to keep in mind, folks.