Winterize Me!

Can you believe it's still a month before winter officially begins?  Winters in the northern and central parts of the US require preparation to go smoothly. Whipping winds, icy sidewalks and roads, snow drifts, frosted windshields, and death defying temperatures may soon become a part of your everyday life.  Skidding cars, frozen locks and cold and flu plague us as well.  Using some everyday preparedness, you can avoid or endure these hurdles with a bit of grace.

Use your pockets, purse, bag, car, and desk drawer as an emergency storage location for some helpful items.

Dress appropriately for the weather.  If your car stopped on the highway, could you walk a mile in the cold, dark, rain or snow to the next exit for help?  Pick function over fashion this season.  If you must wear a mini-shirt and 4" heels to a party (or shorts and a t-shirt to the gym), make certain you have a change of clothes and shoes, as well as a warm coat and gloves, in a bag with you.

Put a blanket, a flashlight, gloves and a hat, a coat or hoodie, a rain poncho or large trash bag, a first aid kit, some water and snacks in your car.  Improvise the same if you commute by train or carpool.

Stay healthy by keeping hand sanitizer, antibacterial wipes, a box or travel pack of tissues, a tube of lotion, a first aid kit, lip balm, and a small bottle of your headache medication of choice at hand as well.

Get plenty of sleep.  Sleep is not a luxury, it's a necessity for mental clarity and disease fighting systems.  

Eat right.  Especially in the winter, we need the vitamins that fruits and vegetables provide.  Whole grains also sustain  our energy levels longer. Keep a healthy snack with you.  Pack bags of veggies each day or keep dried fruit (raisins) and whole grain crackers nearby.  Maybe a can of tomato or chicken noodle soup, too. 

Drink a lot of water.  Coffee and tea help as well, but after 2 cups the caffeine can cause as many problems as it helps.  Keep a bottle (consider an aluminum or stainless bottle) with you and refill it frequently.

If the lock to your car and/or house is outside, keep a small can of lock de-icer with you. (Not in your glove compartment, as I have discovered won't help.)  Make sure you have an ice scraper in your car as well.

If you travel with kids, keep more snacks and water on hand.  An extra diaper and change of clothes may save you one day.  Also some easy activities - action figures, dolls, and paper with crayons can often relieve the tension of a weather related delay.

An extra set of keys, well placed, can save the day.  I have a set at the neighbor's, my sister has a set, and I leave a set at work.  That $10 total investment has been worth a million bucks at least three times (that I can think of) in the past 10 years.

Take the train to work? A Pashmina-style scarf tied on the handle could warm up that lone denim jacket you wore.

Soup on your favorite blouse?  A travel bottle of baby shampoo can be used for hair/body/clothes in a pinch. An extra shirt/scarf/jacket in the car or at the office will be appreciated, too.  At least, keep an instant detergent pen with you.

At your first oil change of the fall, get you car safety checked and winterized. 

Keep some emergency cash in your glove compartment.  Whether that's $20 or $200 is up to you.

At home, you should exchange the screens for glass in windows and doors.  Inspect your door and window seals for breakage and gaps.  

Have your furnace inspected for function and efficiency.  Remember to change your filters monthly.  Ensure that vent and cold air returns are clean and clear of obstacles.

Stock up on sidewalk de-icer and windshield solvent.  These items become scarce in the midst of a storm.

Dig out and check on the condition of your snow shovel and/or snow blower BEFORE you need it.  Make sure you have enough gasoline to get the job done.

Keep staple food items on hand.  If you run out of bread or milk (or diapers and formula)on a dark and snowy night, it may not be safe to go out for it.

Make a plan with your whole family.  Have a family communications plan with an out of town alternate. (i.e. "In case of a weather, or other, emergency Mom's cell is the contact.  If we can't reach Mom, everyone should call Grandma in Seattle to tell her where we are, what we are doing, and how to reach us.")  Make sure your alternate contact knows the plan, too.

Plan and prepare to be a good samaritan.  I always keep an extra hat, gloves, and ice scraper in my car.  Cost = $3!

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