If there is one thing the Fargo-Moorhead region is known for, it’s that the winters can be intimidating. Words like “wind chill”, “icy roads”, and “blizzards” will forever be a part of our vocabulary. And our blood stream. It’s not uncommon for us to go weeks with the temperature being below zero in January. It’s funny to think that when we say that it’s going to be “nice out,” what we really mean is that it’s going to be three above zero and we’re excited about the heat wave. We get used to bundling up in fluffy winter coats, wearing snow boots, and rocking that bomber hat hair like a boss. But, lucky for you, I am about to let you in on a little secret…
I’m not saying that winter doesn’t have its setbacks. What I am saying is that I’ve had some of the best days of my life enjoying the winter air with eight layers of snow gear. Think Randy from The Christmas Story. Since I grew up in this “frozen tundra,” I am going to give you some tips and tricks to brace yourself for the most wonderful time of year: Winter.
1. Survival Kits
If my dad ever taught me anything in this life, it’s to be prepared for everything. That may be why he bought me a survival kit for Christmas three years in a row. I also have three blankets and some frozen water all in the back of my trunk. The thing is, you never know what could happen so being prepared for anything will always be a good thing. They may take up space in your trunk but if you need them, you’ll be thankful they’re there. Pro Tip: Pack a shovel.
Gas can freeze, people! If your gas is running on empty in subzero temperatures, the gas could freeze, causing your car not to start. What happens is when the water droplets in your gas freeze in your tank, they can cause a clot, blocking your fuel line. If it’s going to be really cold, make sure you stock up on a bottle of fuel line antifreeze, which lowers the freezing point of a water-based liquids, like gas. I personally don’t let my car get below ¼ of a tank during the winter. Unless it’s warm out. Like 20 degrees.
It’s a widely known fact that singing can reduce stress in hard situations by releasing tension and anxiety through the release of endorphins. I like to think the same logic can be applied to complaining during the winter months. Specifically, while driving during the winter months. We all do it. We all curse the driver who cut us off, the teenager who was texting while driving, or even sometimes apologize to the other drivers around for our heedlessness. It makes us feel better, it’s a quick release of stress, and helps us get on with our day. I like to yell/sing/talk to myself while driving through blizzard conditions on the interstate. It makes me feel better. There have been numerous times where I’ve found myself belting 90’s pop while driving back to Fargo after the normal one hour drive took me three. This works for me. It may not work for you. You do you.
4. Wait to Mascara
PRO TIP: If it’s blustery and cold, and windy, wait to put your mascara on until you get inside wherever you are going. No one likes their hard work (makeup is hard) ruined by some snowball or wind. Eyes water, snow gets everywhere. Wait to mascara. Trust me.
5. Breathe Through your Mouth
When it’s really cold outside, like, can’t breathe cold, breathe through your mouth. If you breathe through your nose, it’ll freeze your nostrils and down the back of your throat. Breathe in through your mouth and breathe out into your scarf or jacket or something. The air will be warmer and will help you get through it.
6. Look Out For Your Friends
Serious Moment: When you are the D.D., driving your friends home after a night at the bar, make sure you wait until your friends are safe and sound in their houses before you drive away. What if the doors are locked, your friend doesn’t have a coat, and they freeze to death. Wait until they get in the house before you drive away! (This is a good safety tip anytime of year!)
Mittens/Gloves. Might as well buy two or more pairs, in more than one color. Put them in your car, your friend’s car, have a pair at work, and heck, put them under that seat you sit in everyday in chemistry class. Cold hands are the worst!
Fight cracked skin with lotion. Everyday, twice a day. Doctor’s orders.
9. Floor Mats
Even if you live in a place where snow plows are plenty, at some point in your life you’ve probably been stuck in a ditch full of snow. If you’re really in the ditch, like, tires up and engine smoking, call a tow truck. If you’re just kinda stuck in the snow and your wheels can’t get traction, DON’T WORRY! I have a trick for you. You can shovel, (hell, that’s why it’s in your trunk (see Survival Kit) or you use the floor mats of your car to give you traction. Place them under your tires that are spinning so they can grip something. Sometimes you may have to shovel AND use your floor mats. You may even have to do this a couple of times depending on how far you are stuck. Don’t forget to retrieve your floormats once you get yourself unstuck.
10. Stay Put
If for some reason you get blown off the road, or stuck in a blizzard, stay in your car. Don’t try and find help, just take out your survival kit and relax. Eventually the storm will die down and you will be rescued. On that note, make sure that you have a full(er) tank of gas before you drive a long stretch in unpredictable weather. That way if you do get stuck/stranded, you’ll be able to keep your car running because, gas.
11. Penguin Walk
There is a trick to walking on ice… walk like a penguin. Yes, a penguin. Penguins do a sort of waddle, if you will. When you are in a parking lot, or have to cross a sketchy patch of land on your way to your next class, DO NOT put your weight on your heels, keep your weight forward. That way, if you fall, you’ll fall forward and you can catch yourself without getting hurt. If you fall backwards, you could break a wrist or an ankle trying to catch yourself. (I’m not sure if this is true but it makes sense as I am was writing this.) If you’re worried about looking like a fool, everyone else is waddling too. The foolish part comes when you fall, so don’t fall. You’re welcome.
12. Allow Time For Re-Winterizing Yourself
Winter is all about layers. T-Shirt, long sleeve, sweatshirt, coat, hat, gloves, etc. Naturally, inside the restaurant isn’t going to be as cold as the outside. So you spend time taking off all your layers because you get warm. When it’s time to back outside, you have to spend at least 4-6 minutes putting all those layers back on because it’s frigid cold walking to the next bar, or even to your car. First it’s your sweatshirt, then it’s your hat, followed by your coat. Gotta pick those gloves off the floor because they fell sometime during supper. Oh, and don’t forget to zip up your coat. There are so many steps to this process that you’re exhausted before you leave the restaurant/bar/house. That being said, this process is vital to your health and well-being while walking from one bar to the next. Don’t skip it. Layer up.
13. Auto Start with your Heat on High
If you’re one of the lucky ones to have auto start, make sure you turn your heat up all the way AND make sure the setting is on defrost before you leave your car. That way when you start your car from afar, it will defrost the windshield for you. Because let’s be honest, ain’t nobody got time for ice scraping… or a cold car.
This is about as much as I can tell you. Winter may require a little bit of on-the-job training, but if you use your head, and ask for help when you need it, you’ll be fine. Remember: Stay in your car during a blizzard and don’t let your gas get below a ¼ of a tank. So go buy that shovel and Campbell’s soup.