As the days get shorter and the nights get longer, cool air slowly fills the Red River Valley. It’s no secret to the many students who call North Dakota State home that winter is coming. Winter brings many wonderful things: snowmen, snow angels, snowballs, Christmas vacation and icy surfaces. Whether you’re a student, staff member or just visiting, preparation is essential to surviving any North Dakota winter.
The most important thing to remember when dressing for a North Dakota winter is: layers. You don’t need a North Face jacket or a bear pelt to stay warm during the winter months.
A good hat, a pair of gloves and a smart dressing technique is all you need. Generally, the more layers of clothing you don, the warmer you will be. If you get too warm, you can always peel off a layer, or two, ensuring you will never be too hot or too cold. Additionally, many layers of clothing will cushion your landing if you fall.
You should also avoid wearing boots and shoes with smooth soles and instead opt for those with grooved, grippy soles. If possible, try to wear shoes and boots with soles comprised of neoprene or other non-slip rubber.
If you’re traveling across campus on foot, during winter, try to stay on designated walkways and only leave them when absolutely necessary. When walking on icy surfaces, bend forward slightly, and take short, flat-footed steps, with your feet pointed slightly outward. If you find yourself falling, try to relax your muscles and avoid landing on your knees, wrists or spine.
If you plan on biking this winter, placing zip ties around tires will help you maintain traction on even the iciest of surfaces. Additionally, lowering your bike’s tire pressure slightly will increase the amount of tire surface area that touches the ground, making your ride slightly stickier. Naturally, sticking to well maintained walkways is advisable. If you do choose to ride in the road, try to avoid curbs and gutters, as ice is most likely to form there.
Always allow adequate time to stop and slow down, especially before corners. Lowering your seat will lower your center of gravity, which will positively affect your ability to control the bike. Avoid slamming on the brakes as it can cause a complete loss of control. To stop safely, slowly dab your brakes and drag your foot lightly along the ground to slow down. It’s pertinent to mention that NDSU has specific winter bike racks that are kept snow free season.
If you plan on commuting daily, or driving occasionally, this winter it’s important to remain vigilant. People fall in the streets, ice sends cars sliding and snowstorms can blind you.
If possible, always check the road and weather conditions before venturing out. If conditions are bad and roads are unplowed, change your route accordingly. Give yourself extra time to get where you’re going and remember: it’s better to arrive late, and safe, than not at all.
When exiting a vehicle it’s easy to slip and fall. Always exit slowly and use the vehicle for support. If you’re planning on driving anywhere this winter, it’s a good idea to purchase a shovel before it starts snowing. Additionally, jumper cables, an ice scraper, cat litter, lock deicer and a 12V cell phone charger are valuable winter survival tools.