In the Carolinas, snow days are a rare treat, but their scarcity means we aren’t always ready for what comes along with them. Hazardous driving conditions, icy steps, power outages and stir-crazy kids are par for the course. With a little planning, some creativity and a few affordable products, many winter weather woes can be alleviated.
Icy Steps & Sidewalks
I forgot how much my dog loves to frolic in snow. Which is why, when he lurched forward to run figure eights in the powdery stuff last week, his leash was still securely attached to my wrist and I was busy fiddling with the buttons on my coat. After a few terrifying seconds of skating across the thin layer of ice, I came to my senses and dropped the leash, skidding to a halt against a pine tree. Thankfully, the only thing wounded was my pride, but it could’ve been much worse. Ice-related falls are responsible for numerous injuries every year, but there are steps you can take to avoid them:
- Use rock salt to melt the ice and sand to improve traction on steps and sidewalks outside the home.
- Have a snow shovel on hand to keep driveways and sidewalks clear ($10 and a willing teenage son helps too!).
- Keep icy steps and sidewalks illuminated with battery operated step lights and spotlights that are weatherproof and impervious to power-outages.
Hazardous Driving Conditions
Ice and snow can quickly turn into treacherous driving conditions, especially on secondary roads that aren’t treated by salt and sand trucks. In the event that you’re stuck in your vehicle for an extended period, Ready.gov recommends that you keep an emergency kit in your car with a few essentials:
- Jumper cables
- Flashlight with extra batteries
- First Aid Kit
- Water and non-perishable food items (granola bars, canned goods)
- AM/FM Radio
- Cat litter or sand for extra traction
- Shovel and ice scraper
- Warm clothes, blankets or sleeping bags
- Cell phone and charger
- Road flares or reflective triangle
When branches become heavy with ice and fall on power lines, many are left without electricity and need to find alternate sources for keeping their home warm and safe.
- Keep a rechargeable emergency lantern plugged in and at the ready, or invest in a full power outage kit that automatically powers on during a power outage so you aren’t stumbling through the dark looking for candles and flashlights.
- Have an alternate fuel source on hand for heat. This may be firewood or a full tank of propane for a gas fireplace. If you have a generator, operate it safely and be aware of the dangers of carbon monoxide poisoning.
- Gather up your blankets and warm clothing if you have a cold night ahead, and don’t forget about any outdoor pets.
If you live in the South, you know this: if it snows, you can pretty much count on school being cancelled. By about day three of last week’s #snowcation, videos started popping up in my news feed of kids dancing on kitchen tables and singing their 800th rendition of “Let It Go” while frazzled parents held onto their sanity. What’s a parent to do? The web is full of great ideas that creative parents have come up with, but here are a few of my favorites:
- Build a cave of stars with a cardboard box and string lights.
- Make snow paint with water bottles and food dye.
- Design a laser maze with crêpe paper or yarn and painters tape.
- Turn the family room into an indoor campground, complete with a DIY flameless fire pit.
Embrace the Cold
Growing up in North Carolina, the novelty of a real winter snowfall still catches me by surprise. By being as prepared as I can, I’m able to spend time enjoying the magic of winter with my family. How do you prepare for a winter storm? Do you have any creative ideas for keeping home-bound kiddos entertained?