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Snow Safety 101: Everything Short Of Avalanche Survival

It’s that time of year again. The sound of sleigh bells have faded into distant memory and the days of auld lange syne are here to stay. Now that you’ve headed back to campus and the doldrums of January have begun to set in, it is high time to pull up a cup of hot cocoa and learn a little snow safety to keep yourself toasty and safe until spring returns.

1. Make sure your method of transportation is prepared for the winter ahead. If you have your car on campus, be sure to give it a little tune up. Some important things to have the mechanic check out: the battery, antifreeze levels, heater and defroster, and the brakes. Additionally, you might want to consider double-checking your car’s tires and the lights.

2. Gear up. Even if you don’t have a car on campus, that doesn’t mean you’re off the hook! Walking around in the snow to and from classes or work requires preparation, too. Invest in a good winter coat and sturdy all-weather boots. (I recommend some with tread if you happen to live somewhere particularly icy.) A few other winter accessories that can make the chill more bearable are gloves or mittens, something to keep your ears warm like a hat or earmuffs, and a scarf.

3. Make a nest. The best way to avoid the cold weather outside is to stay inside. Set up a study schedule with your roommate if necessary so that you both understand when the room will be used for work, and not social time. Gather all the books you might need to write a paper in advance or utilize online resources so that homework doesn’t pull you out of the dorm. And don’t forget the snacks, warm drinks, and blankets.

4. Watch out for your friends. If you have a buddy who will be hitting the road, ask him or her to text or call you when they reach their destination—and to PUT AWAY THEIR PHONE while driving! By knowing where your friends are or where they’re supposed to be, you can be of valuable help in case of an accident or weather situation. Nothing is worse than getting stranded in a back road in a blizzard without cell phone service, except for getting stranded in a back road in a blizzard without cell phone service without anyone looking for you.

5. Seek out the experienced survivors. Ask an upperclassman their tricks to survive the winter on your campus. Maybe they know that the underground parking of the student center connects to the biology labs, or have a suggestion about how to beat the cold through layers or technique. A native of the area around your college can also be helpful!

6. Take extra precaution with alcohol. Alcohol changes the way blood flows around your body by making the surface blood vessels open wider. This opening of the vessels is what creates the warm, fuzzy feeling you might experience when you’ve been drinking. Unfortunately, this feelings means your body is losing heat more rapidly, and it can create the false perception that your body is warmer than it is. Combined with impaired judgement alcohol can create, this allows the body to develop hypothermia before your brain even realizes it! Minimize time spent outside if you’ve been imbibing, and plan ahead to avoid encounters with the outdoors if necessary.