Snowstorm Jonas reminds us to take cold-weather precautions

Are you protecting yourself from the elements?

By Katie Kohls
@KatieKohls

For those of us native to the Midwest, snow isn’t typically a big deal. We expect at least one big snowstorm each winter, below-zero temperatures, and even slipping on the road as we attempt to make it from one place to the other. For something so common, it blows my mind at times that there are other parts of the country that literally cannot function with even a little snow or ice. My cousins in Texas had to stay home because an inch of snow apparently makes those Southern drivers incompetent, and they feared for their safety. And my friend from North Carolina said no one goes to school or work when a snowstorm comes through, which is rarely but still a hindrance. But looking at the reports from the blizzard that hit the East Coast this weekend, I have to step back and remind myself that ice and snow are actually really dangerous even for those with a lot of experience.

Supposedly at least 25 people have died because of the storm. Hypothermia, car accidents, and more related blizzard events have killed people. While I am unaware of any blizzards expected to hit Northwest Ohio soon, it makes one stop and think about how prepared we are to deal with a full-on blizzard.

First of all, whether you are from the Midwest, an international student, or someone from Hawaii or Texas, get yourself some good winter gear: coat, gloves, scarf, hat, boots, etc. I finally caved and bought more than just cheap gloves from Walmart, and they were a great investment. I can use my phone, they are not bulky, and they keep my hands really warm. As much as I hate hat hair, my hat has saved my poor ears from freezing. And waterproof snow boots will keep your feet dry and warm. So you don’t freeze walking to class, please go get decent winter gear.

If you drive a vehicle and the weather is getting bad, check the Snow Emergency Classifications. At least in Ohio, they give you an indication on the severity of the roads and if you’re allowed to drive on them at all. Check the Courier website for updates with severe weather. Level 1 means the roads are bad, but you can still drive with caution. Level 2 is roads are worse and motorists should only be out if they feel it is necessary. Level 3 is no driving whatsoever unless you are an emergency vehicle. You will get pulled over and a fine. If you need to drive, check the levels.

Your car will slide on the roads and in the parking lots. So please use caution no matter where you’re driving. Especially in the parking lots where many of us forget to look if cars see us. Also put something heavy in your trunk. I have big salt bags in mine that give extra weight to the back wheels to provide more traction. And if you’re driving a farther distance, put a blanket and some easy provisions in your car in case you get stranded on the side of the road. If you can afford it and are really anxious, buy snow tires to give you extra control on the snow and ice. I have ended up in ditches multiple times, and slid into an intersection on a few occasions.

Give yourself extra time. Do not rush while driving or walking in ice and snow. This leads to accidents. Last year I slipped on black ice, a clear, very slippery ice that looks like bare ground. I gave myself a concussion because I didn’t give myself extra time to be careful. It was mild, but unpleasant and I fell behind in my schoolwork. And car accidents can be so many times worse with death being a viable option. Also don’t keep your phone in your back pocket in case you do fall. Go slowly and carefully so less accidents happen.

I know this might seem silly and common sense to many, but with a student population that includes people from all over the country and all over the world, trying to give direction and a plan may be very useful. Snow and ice, while being a common reality here, can be quite dangerous. We all have to plan and prepare to minimize our chances of hurting ourselves or others.

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