Saturday, January 9, 2010
Safe & Frugal Winter Tips for my Southern Bunnies
Chuck Jones. Warner Brothers.
This week has been unusually "wintery" for the Southern states. Coming from the Midwest, where all this ice and snow is commonplace, I kind of laugh at how everyone here freaks out and stocks up on bread and milk, but doesn't bother buying a small bag of sand (for their driveways). The whole city shuts down - schools close, offices close, business who stay open are slow as heck because everyone's staying in. But the reality is - people here aren't used to this kind of weather, and frankly don't know how to live in it. So I've listed a few tips that may also save you a little money in the long run (especially if your pipes freeze or heater breaks down)....
Driving & Parking
* I've noticed people here saying "USE SALT"!!! as the first solution to treat their driveways or to get their cars unstuck. But the reality is - salt should be used SPARINGLY. Salt is known for melting ice and snow. But once that snow melts off, it will surely re-freeze into ice, which is even worse and more dangerous. So instead, the best thing to use and to have handy is a small bag of coarse sand. Even better to use is kitty litter! Yes, kitty litter. I remember in high school we put together emergency winter car kits, and each of them included a freezer bag full of kitty litter. Pour sand and kitty litter in the way of your tires to create for traction if you're stuck in snow or ice. You can also sprinkle it on your sidewalk and driveway. When our short little winter ends - the snow and ice melts and the concrete dries up, it's easy to sweep up the remains.
* Make sure your windshield wiper fluid is filled with solution specifically formulated for cold weather - otherwise it might just freeze onto your windshield! Flush out your radiator and replace it with anti-freeze solution (let your mechanic do this!). These extreme temperatures may not last long enough to have to do all this in the South.... but this is something you should do for SURE.... LET YOUR CAR WARM UP!!! I myself had gotten into the bad habit of letting my car run for 10 seconds before driving it - but in this weather, you REALLY need to let it warm up at least 3-5 minutes before leaving the driveway or parking lot!!!
* Use your brakes sparingly. I know your first instinct, if you hit a patch of ice or snow, is to slam on the brakes. But this is the worst thing you can do since it will take you into a tailspin and you could potentially lose control of your car! Instead, just drive slower. I know that sounds lame, but it's true! This way, you don't have to use your brakes as much as you normally do, and you can control your car much better in inclement weather and road conditions. But if you HAVE to use your brakes, PUMP THE BRAKES instead of just pressing on them in warmer weather. This way, if you do slide around, by pumping them little by little, you are able to maintain control over your car.
* Keep your car cleaned off of snow and ice - this can accumulate and weigh down your car or, if you use salt, it can create salt deposits on your car which is bad for your paint job. It can also obstruct your vision, which is dangerous. So make sure your windows are clear, and your lights, too! Also, check your tires, snow and ice like to accumulate in that space right behind them!
* Layers are the key. Each layer traps in the warm air you produce with your own body heat. Also, those puffy jackets work really great (because they trap in that warm air really well!).
* Cover your extremities! Hats, scarves, gloves, and wool (as opposed to cotton) socks work wonders to keeping warm. So don't forget those important accessories! Just think: the more ninja you look, the warmer! :P
* I also have to say from my own experience... Although I love these shoes and I am still wearing them as I type, my Converse Chuck Taylors are the WORST shoes to wear in cold weather! It makes my feet colder than if I just wore wool socks! So don't wear these, unless you want frozen feet like I have right now (and I'm indoors!).
* Weather stripping and window plastic - especially if you live in an old house, weather stripping is great to keep the heat in and the bad weather out. Also, if you have old or inefficient windows, you can wrap your windows with plastic sheeting and adhesive to prevent drafts.
* Keep your water on a slow drip! It sucks to do this because it seems wasteful. But it might beat having to suffer through frozen pipes, or worse - a bursted pipe!!! If you're concerned about the wasted water - contain it and save it for watering your plants or soaking your dirty dishes, etc. etc...
Mm, well, I think those are the basics. Happy winter! Let's keep each other warm with hugs! :)
~ Jenny Bunns