A word on winter.

In the spirit of my braving a -10 below commute to work this morning I thought I’d list a few tips and winter items I make sure to have when preparing for winter. I always make sure to have a “winter kit” in my car. Items I’m sure you have already heard to keep on hand are water, granola/meal bars, flashlight, small candle, matches or lighter and extra clothing. (At minimum I always keep extra hats, gloves, socks, a couple polar fleece jackets and a blanket.) Two items I would encourage folks to add are a car battery jumper and cat litter. (I was so excited when I saw a recent Farmer’s Insurance commercial where their insurance character used cat litter. See! It’s not weird!) Cat litter is great for creating traction under vehicle tires if you get stuck. It absorbs moisture and clumps, hopefully giving you enough traction to get out of minor muddy or snowy situations. Obviously, should you be stuck deep in a ditch or dangerously snowy situation call for help. Car battery chargers are modern alternatives to jumper cables. Extreme cold can drain car batteries (especially old ones), so with a charger you can just plug it into your vehicle’s power port and after about 15 mins you can start up…and get thee to an auto store for a new battery. What I love about mine is that it is a jumper, but also has a power port on top should you need to charge a cell as well as a light that can be turned on so you can see what the heck you’re doing. Finally, if you are an apartment dweller like me I would suggest keeping a small to medium shovel in your car (mine cost $7.99 on sale at Menards). A cheap large plastic dust pan can double as a hand shovel to get you out of small jams if you’re tight on storage space.

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Left to right:
First two pictures are Cuddle Duds. Frankly, I haven’t found any brand better for layering under my regular clothing. (I have a pair of their silky leggings on under my work pants today.) I only wish they carried more stuff for men…sorry guys.

Black and Decker “Simple Start” – note that I have had mine for a few years and there may be better alternatives now. I’m not 100% sure if this current model is available any longer. If you go to an automotive store (or HomeDepot, Lowe’s, etc.) and ask for something like a car battery jumper they will know what you want. If you have jump cables and can remember how to use them, I am jealous of you.

Kitty Litter! Obviously doesn’t have to be this brand…buy generic and save a few bucks. I recommend a plastic jug if you’re going to leave it in your car. The boxes could break open more easily.