Here in New Jersey (and I guess most of the Northeast region), the long, cold winter months are almost upon us. And while some weather websites are predicting a warm winter (please, oh please), we commuters need to prepare for these cold and shivering car rides we are about to face. These colder months, there are many risks that we need to be careful of. So here are a few tips that have helped me over the years:
- Start your car 10-15 min before you leave home. There is no worse feeling than sitting in a freezing car (okay maybe there are worse; I definitely would not want to be sitting in a car that just rear ended a police car). I have found out from many winters that 10-15 min is the optimal time of starting your car and heating it up before you leave.
- Pack a windshield de-icer and a snow brush. These come especially in handy when after a long day’s work at school, you come to the parking lot to find your car buried in snow and ice. Yeah you can use your hands…if you want to freeze them off!!
- Pack jumper cables or a jump starter. While at Rutgers, we are very lucky that the RUPD can come and jump-start your car if needed. But when you are off-campus, jumper cables or a jump starter will save you in the most unexpected times!
- Have enough gas! I admit I am one of those people who fill up the gas when I have only 5-10 miles left till empty. But in the winter, I try to make sure I have enough gas at all times. You do not want to experience pushing your car to the gas station in freezing temperatures!!!
- Always wear winter/ rain clothing or keep them in your car. Again I am one of those people who step out of my house at 1pm and say “Ah today is a warm day it seems. Don’t need my heavy jacket”. And then I find myself shivering to the bone at 6pm lolol. Learn from my mistake; pack warm clothing!!
- Always have a support system. It’s never a bad idea to let family or friends know that you are leaving school or home in bad weather. If anything goes wrong and you don’t have any communication (a dead phone for example), they will know something is wrong if they don’t hear from you.
I am really hoping we don’t have a horrible winter. A few inches snow here and there and cool weather I don’t mind. That’s my favorite kind of weather. But please, no below zero temperatures and black ice (every commuter’s worst nightmare). After checking some more weather sites, it seems we will have a warmer winter than usual. But always keep these tips in mind whether you are facing snow, rain, or cold weather. And remember always keep your safety in mind. If you think you are having a hard time driving, just pull over and relax. Tensed driving can lead to worse problems.