By Anna Erickson
Surviving rugged, harsh winters is something Minnesotans are known for. This year has brought some of the most frigid temperatures seen in decades. Resilient to the cold, many people who call the Midwest home trudge through the snow and risk dangerous conditions every day to reach their destinations. When driving in treacherous winter weather it is always best to proceed with caution and travel at speeds which are appropriate for the road conditions. It’s wise to have your car checked over before winter sets in, especially the brakes and tires. It is also a good idea to stow an emergency kit in your vehicle during the winter months. This should include important items you could use in an emergency such as non-perishable food, candles, water, blankets, flashlights, batteries and a first aid kit. These are all basic items which could prove to be life saving in a dangerous situation. If you become stranded along side the road, stay in your car, put your flashers on, and call for help. Keep an eye on the news and weather reports to stay updated on the forecast and road conditions before you head out. Of course it is always best to drive with extreme caution during snow and ice storms to avoid becoming stranded along side the road. Even when the road appears to be clear, slippery ice could be lurking. Before you travel anywhere, make sure you have a full tank of gas and that your radio is set to traffic and weather reports.
Warm gloves and boots can also prove to be vital if you are forced to walk to safety during frigid temperatures. Although we rely heavily on our cell phones they are not always completely trustworthy; a low battery with no charging source or no service will not help you if you are stranded alongside the road. Jumper cables could come in handy, along with sand that can be spread under your tires for traction.
During the harsh winter months please remember to be kind and helpful to your mail carrier. If you are expecting any packages, be sure that your sidewalk is shoveled and sanded all the way to your door and steps. Be sure that your mailbox is clear of all snow so the mail carrier can drive up to and away from your mailbox. Anything you can do to help their route go smoothly is greatly appreciated. During a freezing rain storm many mailboxes can become frozen shut, a few abrupt hits with a rubber mallet can solve this problem and save your mail carrier valuable time.
This spring will most likely cause substantial flooding from the large capacity of snow that will soon be melting. This could take out many roads and bridges within days. Even if a road looks safe it could be washed out from underneath and ready to collapse, so always proceed with caution.
Summer is right around the corner, so while you’re waiting hopefully these tips will help you get through the blistering cold.
Anna Erickson is a student at Mabel-Canton High School. She is one of eight area students participating in the Journal Writing Project, now in its 20th year.