Editorial: Prepping for the cold


The ISD Editorial Board lists ways for students who aren’t from the Midwest to get ready for winter in Ames. 

Editorial Board

News flash, Iowa gets cold and snowy. If you aren’t from Iowa or the Midwest, you’ve been blessed with a very mild semester, but the weather will prevail. It will get cold, snow will fall and the roads will develop potholes.

If you are new to this climate, there are a handful of things to do to prepare for winter toward the end of this semester and the beginning of the spring semester.

To start, winterize your vehicle, your vehicle routine and your driving habits. There is no such thing as too many ice scrapers. The more you have the more friends you can force to help you scrap your windows clear. Make sure one of those ice scrapers has a brush on one end because nothing is worse than scooping six inches of fresh snow off of your vehicle.

Fill up your windshield wiper fluid now. You will thank yourself later when you need to de-ice your windshield in the morning. Reminder: don’t scrape your mirrors. They are made of a different kind of glass and can be prone to cracking if you aren’t careful. Use a de-icing spray if necessary, or rely on your rearview mirror with a clear back windshield.

Get in the habit of starting your vehicle before you need to leave. This will tell you if you need to scrape your windows and clean off snow as well as get your vehicle warm for you. It will also alert you if your car battery has died and you need to call someone to give you a jump. On that note, get a pair of jumper cables to ensure you can always start your vehicle (and learn how to use them.)

When you get your vehicle started and clear and begin to traverse the streets and highways in and around Ames, remember that your vehicle is going to operate differently on snowy and icy roads. Don’t tailgate other drivers. Drive slower. Don’t fly through Ames’ yellow lights.

Be prepared for poor winter driving conditions and getting stuck. At the very least, keep some water and nonperishable food in your vehicle along with a blanket. If you want, keep a set of tire chains, a tow strap, a shovel and kitty litter or sand in your trunk to help get you out of any difficult situations you may find yourself in.

Regardless of if you have a vehicle, everyone will find themselves trekking across campus in the cold, blustery winds of Iowa’s winter. Get a coat — a REAL coat, one that actually keeps you warm. Get a head covering and gloves or mittens. There will be a handful of days that a 20-minute walk across campus during which your ears and fingers will need to be covered or you will risk frostbite. It’s on these days that your coat might not suffice either. Layer up.

Get a pair of boots or, at the very least, nonbreathable shoes. The trick is to trap your body heat while keeping the cold and wet out. Cold, wet feet from a hike across sloppy campus sidewalks can make lectures unbearable.

When you do get back home after a long, cold day on campus, don’t feel like you need to break the bank by cranking your heat all the way up. Change out of your current clothes and put on something new and dry. Put on socks and wrap up in a blanket. If you must, take a warm shower, but your thermostat doesn’t need to be set higher in the winter to compensate for colder temperatures outside. About 68 to 72 degrees is a great range to look at.

Finally, make sure you are getting outside and soaking up some sunlight. The days will get shorter and shorter. That, combined with a lot of online classes, can keep students inside for extended periods of time. That isn’t healthy.

Consider your mental health. Many people develop seasonal affective disorder in winter. Look into vitamin D supplements or artificial sunlight lamps. Keep in contact with friends and family. Overall, look after yourself. Winter is hard on all of us, even those of us who have grown up dealing with it.

Don’t think everything about an Ames winter is bad, though. Fresh snowfalls on campus are some of the most beautiful things. Sledding, snowmen and snowball fights all provide good, clean fun. And as long as the weather stays cold, campus can avoid the sloppy, muddy mess it becomes in the spring.