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Tips for dealing with cold weather when you travel

By ALETHEA PRICE

Community columnist

Although the weather hasn’t really been like winter it’s important to plan ahead. Winter car preparation is crucial for staying safe in cold weather emergencies on the road. Being prepared will make things easier if you get into a crash, break down, or get stuck in the snow this winter.

Here are five essential items you need to stay safe:

  1. Warmth. You need a way to stay warm if you are stranded. Keep things like an extra coat, blanket, hat, gloves and/or or scarf in your car in case of an emergency.
  2. Shovel. If you get stuck in a snow bank, you want to be able to dig your car out. Having a sandbag in your trunk can help if you have front wheel drive. Putting that weight in the back can help you get out of the snow easier. Also, if you need to, you can pour some of that sand onto the snow which gives a little more traction to help you drive out.
  3. Lights. Whether it is flashlights or something reflective you can put on the road around your car, you’ll need something to keep you safe in the dark. Lights can also help flag down help.
  4. Food and water. Especially if you have kids in the car with you, you want to make sure that you have something to eat and drink if you could be stuck for a while.
  5. First aid kit. If you do not already have this item in your car, just get a basic first aid kit that includes small bandages, some antibiotic ointment, and maybe a pain reliever.

That about covers all the ways to be prepared for rough weather while in the car. Here are some tips to save some money this winter by preparing your household for cold weather.

  • Test different temperatures to find out when it just begins to feel uncomfortably cool for each family member. Set the thermostat just one or two degrees above that temperature.
  • Set your programmable thermostat to a cooler temperature when you’re not home. According to the U.S. Department of Energy, turning your thermostat back 10 or 15 degrees for eight hours can save around 10 percent per year on your heating and cooling bills. Also, you can turn down the temperature of your water heater to the warm setting, 120 degrees F, to save energy.
  • Winter months are a great time for snuggling under blankets. Switch to a winter wardrobe for your casual clothes. Get the most for your money on all your winter wear by purchasing quality fabrics that will last in classic styles.
  • Replace furnace filters to strain out dust and impurities while improving air flow. Also dust your vents and radiators. Make sure furniture isn’t blocking air flow. 
  • Check for drafts and air leaks. Stand by doors, windows, and electrical outlets on a cool day to see if you feel cooler air. There are many quick fixes you could make, including weather stripping, caulking, or insulating. Consider switching to heavier curtains in the winter and keeping them drawn when the sun goes down. If you have a fireplace, make sure the damper is closed whenever a fire isn’t burning.

Cooking at home can save you money on restaurants. Also, using your oven can provide the secondary benefit of a pleasant warmth in the kitchen. However, if you’re heating something small, a microwave will use less energy to get the quick job done.

Use your slow cooker to prepare meals for the family. It uses less energy as well. If your ceiling fans have a directional switch, you can run the blades clockwise to distribute the warm air around the room. If you have a room you don’t use, you can seal it off by closing the vents, shutting the door, and blocking airflow at the base of the door.

For more information on how to survive the winter, feel free to email me at a.price@uky.edu