Winter Weather Survival Tips from a Colorado Native


Welcome to Colorado!

I know this post isn’t really about marijuana, but with so many refugees moving here, I thought a few tips for coping  with Colorado’s cold, dry winter might be helpful. I’m sure many of you are struggling with the snow and cold, so here are a few survival tips from someone who has spent a lifetime dealing with Colorado’s winters.

1. Stay home. This is my number one tip. If the roads are bad, stay home. Don’t go out unless you have to. Sit back, smoke a bowl, and let the snowplows do their work.

2. Make sure your vehicle is working properly. If your battery dies, you run out of gas or you get a flat tire, it’s going to really suck when you’re in the middle of a storm. Better to do a little advance maintenance.

The Colorado Department of Transportation (CDOT) recommends using this Automotive Checklist before you leave on a road trip:

  • Windshield Wiper Fluid (the blue stuff, NOT plain water)
  • Heater/Defroster
  • Wiper Blades
  • Antifreeze (again, NOT water)
  • Lights
  • Fuel System
  • Full Tank of Gas (this will also add valuable weight to your vehicle)
  • Ignition
  • Exhaust System
  • Tire Tread
  • Battery
  • Brakes

winter car kit - redcross

3. Pack a winter survival kit in your car.
Again, a Safety Checklist from CDOT:

  • Flares/reflectors to signal for help and warn other motorists
  • Sturdy scraper/snow brush/snow shovel to clear snow
  • Battery or crank-powered radio to listen to emergency broadcasts
  • Flashlight with extra batteries or crank-powered flashlight
  • Survival blanket or sleeping bag
  • Chemical hand warmers
  • Extra set of clothes, including coat, hat, mittens, boots, etc.
  • Gallon jug of water and nonperishable food
  • First Aid Kit and essential medications
  • Tire chains and tow strap
  • Non-clumping kitty litter/sand for traction
  • Jumper cables
  • Extra cloth or paper towels for cleanup if necessary
  • Deck of cards or board game for entertainment

I would add winter boots to the list, particularly if you wear dress shoes for work. I try to keep an old pair of boots stashed in the trunk just in case I get stuck and have to walk to get help.

4. Black ice is still ice. Just because you can’t see the ice, doesn’t mean it’s not there. Ice with a layer of water on top can produce the most dangerous driving conditions. It can be hard to tell the difference between wet and icy roads just by looking. Be especially cautious when driving on bridges and overpasses.

5. Driving a SUV doesn’t give you unlimited power and protection. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been passed by some SUV on the highway in bad weather only to see them off in the ditch a mile or two down the road. No tailgating! (Do I really have to say this?) A 4WD won’t help you stop any sooner on ice. In fact, the added weight of your vehicle might work against you.

6. Don’t make any sudden or abrupt moves or stops, if you can avoid it. Instead, gently guide your vehicle where you want it to go. Remember: slow and steady wins the race, especially in snowy conditions.

7. Avoid using cruise control.  From Uncover Colorado: “There’s no denying that cruise control is a very nice feature to have when driving in normal conditions, but in the winter the dynamics change and using cruise control is unfortunately unsafe. If your car skids it will accelerate by spinning the wheels, because it’s trying to keep up with the predetermined speed. This makes it significantly more difficult to control the vehicle if such an event were to occur.”

8. This is not the time to be texting, surfing or talking on the phone. Driving in hazardous conditions requires even more skill and reflexes than normal driving, so put down the phone and pay attention. If you must use your phone, pull off the road first.

9. If you do get stuck, keep your intake and exhaust clear. You may end up napping in your car until help arrives, so make sure your exhaust is free from snow or any other obstruction so you don’t risk carbon-monoxide poisoning while your car is running. Snowplows have been known to bury cars stranded on the side of the road.

10. Layer upon layer upon layer. Weather in Colorado can change suddenly. The day may start out warm and sunny and be cold and snowy before evening. The best way to adapt to changes in temperature is by layering your clothes. Then you can add or peel as needed throughout the day.

Glittens11. Cold feet? Try bicycle socks! I just recently discovered this trick and it’s really saved my feet. Bike socks are made from thin synthetic material designed to wick away moisture. My feet tend to sweat when I’m in warm winter boots, but if I slip on a pair of bicycle socks under my regular socks, my feet stay toasty warm and dry.

12. Mittens are warmer than gloves. Your fingers like to keep each other warm, and mittens allow them to do just that. Even better, buy yourself a pair of “glittens,” a handy glove-mitten combo. You’ll have the manual dexterity of gloves with the warmth of mittens.

13. Let your faucets drip. When the temps drop at night, the last thing you want to wake up to is frozen pipes. Opening the cabinet doors beneath your sink and letting the faucet drip just a little will keep water moving through the pipes so they don’t freeze. If you’re particularly concerned, or if your pipes do freeze, a space heater next to the open cabinet doors should do the trick. Be aware that you may not know if your pipes have burst until they thaw.

14. Invest in a humidifier. Colorado’s dry climate can make it hard to live in your own skin. To curtail itchiness and static electricity, add humidity to the room or house with a humidifier. You can even have one installed as part of your whole-house furnace system. Gaiam has some ideas on how to choose the right humidifier for you.

15. Try cannabis for pain relief. Just making your way through a day of cold weather can leave you tired and achy. After hours of tense driving and snow shoveling, you’re sure to need relief for sore, fatigued muscles. A nice hot bath with Epsom salt or one of the fabulous cannabis-infused bath soaks will help warm you up and relax tense muscles. Slather on some pain cream or salve, get some THC and  CBD (cannabidiol) in your system to help with pain, and relax. You’ll feel better in no time.

More winter driving tips from the Red Cross

50 Ways to Winterize Your Home

I hope this helps you cope with our cold and snowy Colorado winters. I’m sure I’ll think of more tips after I post this, so I’ll try to add those to the comments. And I hope some of my other friends from snowy states will chime in with their own ideas.

Stay safe out there!

Welcome to Colorado!

— Rx MaryJane (Teri Robnett)

Cannabis Patients Alliance is working hard for patients by continuing to advocate for legal, safe, affordable access to medical marijuana across Colorado and around the country. Your contribution will go a long way toward keeping our advocacy alive and ensuring patients needs are included in the discourse on public policy and education. We are changing hearts and minds, one conversation at a time. Please DONATE today so our work can continue!

Categories: Colorado, Driving, Healthy Lifestyle, Travel & Entertainment

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3 replies

  1. If only the Red Cross included #15 in THEIR list.


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