With temperatures reaching well below zero, this ‘”winter survival guide” aims to help keep you comfortable and cozy on even the coldest Minnesota days.
For those that have survived the unforgiving Minnesota winters, it’s almost needless to say that preparing for winter can make a difference when facing the windy, icy and slushy season, but with people arriving to SCSU from all over the world, it might be time to go back through the winter checklist.
Going through this guide, you’ll find tips that were compiled from the University Chronicle staff to keep in mind when venturing out during the winter months here in Minnesota.
It’s Simply Not a Race
The foot of snow that St. Cloud received on Monday might have caught some folks off guard, because on Tuesday, driving toward campus on Division Street, one could see the hood of a car lodged in a snow bank near the left side of the divided road.One can only imagine how and why that was left there, but the better question is, “What caused that and how can that be avoided?”
One can only imagine how and why that was left there, but the better question is, “What caused that and how can that be avoided?”
The trail of slippery tire tracks leading up to the perpendicular car hood, along with an imprint of the car’s front bumper in the snow bank, can be of some help when figuring out the entire story.
First and foremost, when you’re cruising down the road to a friend’s house or making the daily commute, driving safely is important. We’re not going to run through Driver’s Ed. again, but before going on, just another reminder to drive a bit slower, start applying the break earlier (but not harder) for stops, and watching for icy spots.
When reaching your destination, hopefully in one piece, it’s good to know parking regulations. The university does send out emails, but more information can be found by going online.
Prepare For The Worst
If, and hopefully not when, you find yourself in a situation like the dismantled hood of that car, there are a few items that can make a big difference. Even with the snowfall on Monday, it’s not too late to start collecting supplies for an emergency kit to stow away in your trunk.
Having an emergency kit doesn’t mean you need to pack your trunk full. However, there are at least 11 items to keep in mind when compiling your emergency kit, because in some cases, no amount of tire spinning and squealing is going to help you get where you need to be any faster.
Next time you’re at home or at the store, the following items can make up a sufficient emergency kit. Keep in mind that the following are just a foundation for an emergency kit, meaning that you shouldn’t limit yourself to what you think can be helpful in an icy situation.
An emergency kit looks something like this: A shovel/scraper, sand (or cat litter), flashlight with extra batteries, extra clothes (including boots), first aid kit which should include a small knife and tape, sleeping bag or blanket, rope, phone charger, food and water, and don’t forget the jumper cables.
Keeping the emergency kit small can be nice for easy storage, but again, there are numerous other items that can be helpful when stuck in a less than desirable situation.
And so, if you find yourself lodged in a snow bank, you might just be able to get yourself out and back home all in one piece, without having to call a tow truck and spending the cash.
Don’t Forget Your Mittens
It’s important that you dress for the weather, especially to go along with what you’re planning to do for the day.
Walking to and from class might require less bundling up—especially if you navigate campus strategically by taking the skyways—but going out on weekends where you might be in and out of places at night, or if you’re heading out on a day-trip that will have you in the elements for long periods of times, dressing for the weather can make the trek there and back a bit more bearable.
Whatever your plan is, wearing clothes that are going to keep you warm and dry are nice when you’re awkwardly stepping into or over a snow bank to get to your car or while you’re snowshoeing on the trail, moving deeper and deeper into the woods.
For starters, a nice pair of boots—preferably waterproof and paired with a hole-free pair of wool socks—can make the walk across campus seem like a breeze when slipping out of your canvas summer shoes. Walking with cold, wet shoes gets more miserable with each step.
In addition to the boots, a decent jacket, hats and gloves, and “long-johns” do the trick when the temperature dips below zero, and the wind picks up. Though, if you are heading out on the trail, there are a few more precautions that you should take before venturing out, other than your wardrobe.
Make a Plan and Stick To It
For anybody looking to head outside during the winter months, it can make all the difference to have an agenda and let somebody know what you’re planning to do.
Whether you’re heading out for an extended winter camping trip, a day-trip or even snowshoeing for the afternoon, there should be a planning process before heading out.
It always helps to take a buddy along, but if everybody else gets called into work or are hibernating then letting somebody know the general information about your trip, which at least should be when and how long you plan to be gone, where you’re going and what you’re doing.
In addition to giving somebody the overview of your plan, it doesn’t hurt to grab a map and draw out your route. This applies more so to the folks that plan to venture out of town, but letting somebody in on the plan is helpful in the case that somebody does actually need to come looking for you.
After planning is said and done, like having you’re emergency kit in your car, grabbing a few things to take along might serve you well.
A small pack made up of extra food, like energy bars, and water, an extra layer and socks, sun block for the bright winter mornings, a compass and map of the area, and if necessary, a small camping stove with fuel to make hot chocolate.
As you move along the trail and the farther you get out there, it’s important to watch your body temperature. If you begin to sweat, it’s time to slow down, because if the temperature and winds pick up before you head in for the day, you might end up leaving with a nasty cold.
Sitting inside and watching the ice melt is like watching paint dry. Just because the weather outside is a bit chillier than in October, doesn’t mean that there is nothing to do. Holding up with a book and tea isn’t a bad idea, but there are still numerous things to try during the winter.
Whether it’s snowboarding or skiing, snowshoeing or building a snowman, there are things to do. If, and hopefully when, you get out and try something new, just remember to be safe and refer back to your winter checklist.
This article originally appeared in the University Chronicle on November 17, 2014.