Thursday, December 21, 2006

Powder Day

Snow. Snow. Oh, and some more snow. Madhubby, doing his best Frosty the Snowman impression, finally made it home late last night. Some motorists were not so lucky and either had to go a Red Cross shelter or - worse - set out on foot.

I saw so many people surrender their cars to their snow and start walking. People waiting for buses that never came. Others, sitting in their cars, paralyzed, by the haze as thick as the fog of their breaths.

I drove carefully and deliberately on unplowed streets amid snow drifts that threatened to engulf my car with every slippery turn. Only essential personnel on the roadways, the squawk box reminded me, yet I pressed on, searching for my husband. Squinting to peer through falling snow, emergency lights and a sea of people with scarves where their faces ought to have been.

From community center to fire station to shopping mall, stranded motorists seeking shelter were drawn to the warm lights and welcomed in, given food, water, blankets, and a comfy chair from which to watch the local news replay their storm coverage. Continuous coverage. Stay inside. Don't go out if you don't have to, they reminded us. Madhubby is essential. To me and to our family. I needed to find him but the roads became too treacherous, so I turned homeward towards fleece blankets, warm brisket and hot cocoa.

Usually, I would heed the warnings but I've lived in Colorado for over a decade and, like most Coloradans, I don't fear the snow. Why should I fear something that is essential to our state? It fills our reservoirs with much needed water during summer months, it brings tourism dollars to our state, and it is a ready-made playground for my children. However, if you do fear the snow and all things associated with it, then don't go out in it. If you have no choice, then please pack your car accordingly:

  1. Mini Shovel - an absolute necessity for digging out of snow drifts or ditches.

  2. Cat Litter - for traction

  3. Extra Blankets - we prefer fleece because they are nearly impervious to water and provide excellent warmth.

  4. Snow pants - we ski, so the kids each have a pair, but check consignment stores or Ebay for reasonably priced seconds. Waterproof and warm, snow pants provide extra protection from the elements.

  5. Cotton balls soaked in petroleum jelly & waterproof matches - the petroleum jelly is a fire starter. Keep both in a sealed canister.

  6. Cell phone charger - if you have cell signal, then a car charger can keep you in touch with the right people.

  7. Hat & Waterproof gloves

  8. Flashlight - a MagLight is the gold standard. I carry it because it's durable, waterproof and can used as a weapon in a pinch (hey, you never know who's going to come out of the snow).

  9. Road Flares - so you can be seen from outer space or at least from the next block over

  10. Flask of Water - liquor is dangerous to people at risk for hypothermia. Instead, stay hydrated with H2O.

And, one last bit of advice, if your car gets stuck: Please do not get out of your car. Rescue or DOT workers will eventually find you. You have less chance of being seen - and of survival - if you are out wandering amid the snow. Your car is your shelter. Be smart, stay warm, and you may come to love the snow like we do.

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