Winter wonderlands can be treacherous

Published on Thu, Dec 12, 2002
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Winter wonderlands can be treacherous

With winter upon us, snowmen, ice skating and holiday cheer is often accompanied by blizzards, ice storms and aggravation. Though these disruptions to day-to-day life range from annoying to deadly, the good news is that individuals easily can employ engineering solutions to make the winter season happy, warm and safe.

“Engineers help people tackle the most difficult weather-related challenges,” said Bruce Field, an engineer and member of the National Society of Professional Engineers (NSPE). “There are many easy and inexpensive ways people can prepare before Mother Nature settles in for the next few months.”

Engineers offer ten simple tips for ensuring a manageable winter for families affected by cold, snow and ice.

On the Road:
Have Essentials Immediately Accessible
Never knowing when a driver might be stranded, it is a good idea to bring a gallon of water and a sleeping bag when hitting the highway or back roads.
Be Aware of the Condition of Your Car
Make sure there is life in your car’s battery and have jumper cables in your trunk. Plenty of anti-freeze and washer fluid, good windshield wipers and a working heater are also a must.
Have Proper Tires
Snow tires help you navigate snow-covered roads. Inflate tires to the proper pressure.
Be Ready to Dig
Keep a foldable shovel, a bag of cat litter and a pair of gloves in the car in case you get stuck.

At Home
Insulate the Home Effectively and Affordably.
Wrap the interior of windows with clear plastic sheeting. Insulate nonessential exterior vents with plastic covers, and if possible, seal interior vents with foam board.
Install Programmable Thermostats.
Consumers can find good quality units for under $40. This purchase will pay for itself in one heating season if used properly.
Check Home Heating Devices
Make sure the furnace or boiler is in working order, and replace any old, worn filters.
Prevent Frozen Pipes
Allow warm air to circulate in closed spaces near pipes by leaving cabinet doors open. If pipes are near uninsulated perimeter walls, wrap them in UL-approved heat tape. Be sure to drain garden hoses and disconnect them from the house.
Close Doors and Windows
Verify that all seals and weather stripping is in place and working properly.
Have an Alternate Power Source.
Consider having a safe, alternative heat source should the power fail; flashlights and candles are important as well.
Tips courtesy of The American Engineering Campaign.. .
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