For the last two weeks the Pacific Northwest (PNW) has been surprised with a foot or more of cumulative snow fall, a freak occurrence in these parts of the world. (Blame Global Warming!) To survive in the “arctic tundra” there are a few easy tools and procedures you can follow to make your experience more manageable. These five hacks were found by my husband W to be life saving and changing. Hopefully they can help you too!
1. Use a tarp to cover your driveway or vehicle.
Before putting the tarp down clear the snow. Ours has been outside three days under freezing conditions and it has not stuck to the ground. Once the snowfall ended, we grabbed the edges and tossed it to the side. You can also shift it out of the way and reset it after you have taken your cars out. If you leave your car outside, the tarp can be used to the same effect.
2. Use a medium sized, 18″ pan, duty shovel or hard bristle broom.
If you have a grain shovel or equivalent at home, you can use it as a handy tool to remove the white fluffy substance standing between you and freedom. In some cases we used our deck broom or outdoor sweeper and it got part of the job down. It became a makeshift snow pusher. A big squeegee may help as well if the snow is no more than 6″ deep. You may need to do two passes to finish the job.
3. Use kitty litter or sand for traction. Cardboard or a piece of wood helps as well.
As Red from That 70s Show would profess, always carry kitty litter and some other means to generate traction in the trunk of your car. Many people forget they must shift vehicles into low gears for traction and set AWD vehicles to snow mode. If your suburbitank doesn’t have this mode, the mechanism will default to either FWD or RWD which can have you spinning in the snow for hours on end.
4. Order supplies online from pro shops like ULINE.
These supply companies have delivery strategies for almost all types of weather, including snow, to serve their customers. Like the post office, they take pride in getting you the goods in two or three days max delivered to your doorstep. I got snow shovels and a few other tools delivered in a jiffy, some coming from as far as California to backfill the order. We had limited luck with Amazon and other stores, and FedEx and UPS started doing the rounds after the snowfall ended. However, USPS was still delivering which led me to believe that changing the shipping method to use them may work as well for orders.
5. Antifreeze can serve as deicer or ice melt if you are in a pinch.
This solution helps if a) you have access to the substance, b) find environmentally friendly variants and c) don’t have restrictions for storm water drainage. Make sure pets will not walk on the surface or children will be playing in the area if you can’t find non toxic or safe choices.
These five hacks may be obvious to those living outside the area but for us snow noobs they are not very intuitive. Other good tips include:
- Using hot water, ice scrapers, and food scrapers can help in a pinch with frosted windows and glass.
- Leave wiper blades up if leaving your vehicle exposed to the elements.
- Use waterproof and slip resistant shoes while working with the snow and the tools recommended above.
- Stay indoors and call for help if you don’t have the ability to shovel or clear walkways and driveways.
- If you get stuck on the road, don’t panic! First responders and road maintenance crews are there to help. It may take some time for them to reach you which can be mitigated by packing blankets, water and snacks, just in case, whenever leaving home.
- Regular shovels can work with snow. Hydrate, wear winter gear and take multiple breaks. Avoiding injuries must be your number one priority.
Stay safe! ❄☃️