Winter weather worries

Cameron Dillefeld, Opinions Writer

As we near the end of the semester, colder temperatures are on the horizon. This is fun for snowmen and getting into the Christmas spirit, but winter weather can bring its own problems. It’s all of our responsibility to take steps to prepare for the winter. Whether you have a vehicle or choose to walk around campus, minimizing the risks we take can bring a more joyful holiday season.

Those from Chicago or other big cities will realize that central Illinois does not have the same budget for road clearing projects. If you choose to leave Macomb, know that roads will still have snow and ice on them. The train is a good way to get around in bad weather. If you are like me and are going to have to drive home over dirt roads to go to a farm, having basic winter gear can make a big difference. I keep things like a flashlight, jumper cables, a lighter, crackers, a blanket and a small candle in my vehicle in case I get stuck or stranded. With heavy snowfall, drifting and sliding off the road is a real possibility and happens to thousands of people around the U.S. each year. FEMA suggests having a source of heat, light and food to last one person for three days in your vehicle. Heavy snowfall can make it extremely difficult to find and rescue stranded or injured drivers. If you are in a crash, the first thing to do is stay calm. Then assess yourself for any injuries and where you are at. Try to call the police, your friends or your family to let them know where you are. An important step to keep in mind is to check your exhaust pipe. If the exhaust pipe is packed with snow and submerged, CO2 can begin to fill the inside of your vehicle. Breathing enough of this can be fatal. Staying warm and staying put are the two biggest concerns. Unless you can physically see a house near you, staying in your car is the safest thing to do.

Prepping your vehicle for this winter’s weather is another important part of having a safe holiday season. Ice, slush and snow can be very difficult to maintain control of your car on. Old tires that are losing tread provide much less traction than a newer set. Two years ago, I blew a tire on my truck and almost crashed into a ditch. I was able to park in a lot and take the tire off. My truck was on a jack for a week because no one was shipping tires on Christmas. Being prepared will save you a lot of headache if something does happen. Simply being a more cautious driver is a small thing that has a huge impact. Driving slower on slippery roads, not taking turns too sharp and maintaining a larger distance between you and the driver in front of you can seriously reduce the risk of a collision.

We all want to get to our classes on time, but no grade is worth getting seriously hurt or worse over. So, this winter, make a list of things you can do to prepare for anything the season with throw our way. Share ideas with your friends and family so we can all spend this holiday together.