The winter brain

It is time now to get you winter legs-maybe even better, now is the time to get your winter brains. A few weeks ago, it was winter-if only for a little bit. Most have probably forgotten the sting but we should remember it, and act on it. Gird your loins, winter is on its’ way.

As far as I can see, there is little or no danger due solely to winter. What makes winter dangerous occurs when you fail to plan or take silly chances. I’ve always said that a person should spend summer preparing for winter. It is so much easier to insulate, caulk or repair in the middle of July than late October. There is time for some projects and there is caulking that will set-up properly in cooler temperatures however the horse may already be out of the barn for you if you just started looking for the ladder today.

I would rather pick the low-hanging fruit prior to snowfall-the stuff that is easy to accomplish. Let’s start out with pets; keep them indoors. Our cats are part of the family and the only family that has to go outside around here in the winter is the occasional visitor who needs a smoke break. Another good thing to do is check the wheel wells of you car before you move it. Cats sometimes will hunker-down on top of the car tire in the wheel well. We always keep plenty of food out for the birds and a small dish of food for strays. A bigger issue for outdoor animals is water so we also offer a heated dish with fresh water.

Winter driving causes most of the concern for the season, it is an exercise in planning, information and good sense. Plan to leave early so you can drive more slowly than the posted speed limit. I spend most of the winter driving about 45 miles per hour and always leave time so I can stop and help the less mentally-prepared drivers who pass me and then visit the ditch. I check the weather report every few hours, more often during an impending storm. 511 is the number to call for weather and road information and 511mn.org is an excellent resource for road and weather information. If you are in the car, local radio broadcasts are timely and information-dense. Good sense in decision-making plays a big part in safe winter driving, every driver has a different level of skill. Here’s the formula I use to decide whether or not to drive. First rate the weather conditions, importance of the trip and the skill level of the driver, then multiply weather conditions x importance of the trip then divide by the driver’s skill level-the lower final numbers indicate a safer trip. By the way, I’ve watched how most people drive in the area so the default driver skill level is “1.” Even the worst driving conditions reveal themselves more slowly if you drive slower-remember that tip.

Prepare yourself now, winter can be an excellent season. It’s all in what you make of it-and how you think your way through it.

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