10 January 2013

When Roads Freeze Over

     The snow is upon us. I feel like I'm saying this too late, but make sure you're prepared for snow! Maybe now is the best time to say it, because we're all more likely to listen to anything when it's relevant, and for anyone who lives in a place like me and dreads going outside on a day like today, this is about as relevant as it gets. By the time I reach my car the footprints I left behind have already been filled in with fresh snow. I spent a while hacking the ice off of my car a few days ago just so I could see through the windshield... once I was able to get in.

     You should spend some time in an empty parking lot learning how to drive in the snow...every year. It's the most fun you'll have driving all year, and it just might be the most important. Why I wrote this post is because I think it's important to have a few things in your car for those times you need to be out, just in case you're stuck out. First, make sure you have plenty of fuel. I sometimes find it easier to just drive straight home instead of making one more stop at the gas station. Eventually, though, after you've talked yourself out of it so many times, you're running low(like today). There's never a more convenient time to get something done than the past. I would recommend not letting your tank get below half full.

     You need a window scraper. Your credit card is not the same. Running inside for a spatula isn't going to cut it either. Just break down and get one. You'll be happy you did, especially if it's a long one with a brush on the back. While you're at the store, pick up a bag or two of salt. You could get the stuff you would put in a water softener for about 5 bucks a bag. If you can find a bag like that of the ice melt salt, like you would use on a sidewalk, that would be even better. Keep it in the back of your car and use it for extra traction if you get stuck and your tires are sliding. The extra weight won't hurt, either. (If you can get a bag of kitty litter or playground sand, those are good for traction, too.)

     When you go out, I know you might not expect to be outside much. You're going straight from the house to the car to wherever it is you're going as quickly as possible. You're not going to spend any more time outside than you absolutely have to. Well, that makes sense. What doesn't make sense is dressing like you're not going to be outside. Have you looked out the window? Just thinking about it makes me want to get into my warmest, coziest clothes and eat a bowl of piping hot stew. What I'm trying to say is that you ought to have a few items with you just in case. You'll likely be fine without a change of underwear, but you should have a pair of gloves, a hat, and a coat. If you're not already wearing them, then think about sticking them in your car. When I was younger and living at home, I just rummaged through my dad's closet and found one of his old coats. Then again, maybe it wasn't an old one but I just liked it. Well, I got away with it. It's probably still in the back of that car. Anyway, get one and keep it. A pair of boots and an extra pair of socks is a good idea if you don't normally wear boots. Also, a blanket or sleeping bag is good to keep in your car, just in case you didn't fill your gas tank, and you can't walk somewhere because you don't have any boots, and you don't have a coat, and your best shot is to hunker down and try not to freeze before someone stops to save your life. Also, a blanket comes in handy in the summer when the air conditioner is too cold for your wife.

     A flashlight. Get one. You can get some pretty awesome flashlights for not too much money. Some even plug into your car's cigarette lighter. You can always use a flashlight. Also, have a car cell phone charger. You can consider a power adapter for your car so you can plug in all your normal stuff. Another tool that may come in handy, that I wouldn't say is necessary, but can really help, is a shovel. You can find a small shovel, even some that are collapsible, that will fit right in the back of your car. You can dig yourself out of some tight spots with one of those.

     Well, if you've got a family, and you don't have them all outside the car with you building snow shoveling character, then they might get bored or hungry or thirsty. Always keep some bottles of water in your car no matter what time of year it is. You always need to be hydrated. If the bottles freeze, then you can try to warm it up. Good luck. Try wrapping a hand warmer around it. Anyway, keep water in your car. Also, keep some snacks. If you have some jerky and granola bars, that's pretty good. Get whatever else you want. There are lots of places in a car to hide snacks. You've probably got some hidden somewhere from your last road trip.

   Another thing that could get you out of a tough situation is a tow strap or chain. Maybe someone with a tougher car than yours can get you out. Tire chains can keep you from sliding off in the first place. Keep a good attitude and make every experience an adventure, and learn from it all. What's the point of lousy things happening if you don't let them make you better? Well, stay toasty.

Summarized List:
Spend some time in an empty parking lot learning how to drive in the snow.
Don't let the gas tank get below half full.
Window scraper
Bag of salt, kitty litter, or sand.
Pair of gloves
Boots and an extra pair of socks
Blanket or sleeping bag
Car cell phone charger
Small shovel
Bottled water
Hand warmers
Tow strap or chain
Tire chains

1 comment :

  1. Love these ideas! All too often we don't think of these things until we're in a situation where they are needed.
    I remember those winters well. My dad used to put weight of some sort (usually bales of hay and a big bag of rock salt) in the back end of the pickup truck to help balance it out and keep it from fish-tailing so easily. I know, some of you 'guys' sort of love that sort of fun! Either way, be safe out there and stay warm, hydrated, and remember NOT to eat the yellow snow!