From the South? Here’s What You Need for Your 1st Michigan Winter
Michigan has attracted another southerner who seems to be a bit ill-prepared for the impending winter season (insert Game of Thrones Winter is Coming meme here.)
As a fellow former southerner, I was blessed to move to Michigan in the Fall, giving me plenty of time to prepare for the colder months ahead. And, people were very generous with their winter advice.
However, on the Kalamazoo Reddit page, it seems a newcomer to Kalamazoo moved here just in time to be totally unprepared for winter. Their post reads,
I just moved from the south and I have no idea how to prepare for winter. What are some emergency type things you keep in your car? I also have water as the wiper fluid so I do I need to replace that with something else so it doesn’t freeze? Any other winter advice/tips you can offer will be much appreciated!
With over 70 comments, it sounds like this person has plenty of advice to help them out. However, if you also find yourself lacking in preparations for winter here are a few things locals recommend:
1. Proper Window Washer Fluid
Let's get this one out of the way first. If you're using water as your wiper fluid, it most likely will freeze. Reddit user Lord_nerdly wrote:
You definitely want to replace the water you’re using for wiper fluid. It definitely gets below freezing for water here, and could damage the wiper washer components. Just go to somewhere like Meijer and get some actual wiper fluid. Depending on how much you use, you might go for the colder temperature stuff (usually purple colored).
The de-icer windshield wiper fluid is life-changing and it's surprisingly affordable.
2. A Car Emergency Kit
U/HBSurfPhoto was the first to comment on this post with the recommendation of a car emergency kit. They went on to say that their kit includes:
- Ice scraper and collapsable shovel
- Sand/rock salt/kitty litter for traction if needed
- Flares, jumper cables, a tow strap, tools
- Phone charger
- Tire inflator
- At least 1/4 tank of gas at all times
They did go on to say that should you drive carefully, most of these will simply be a 'just in case' need.
3. Extra Clothes/Blankets
This was mentioned in multiple comments. Make sure you have an extra coat, scarf, gloves, socks, even a blanket in your backseat in case you happen to find yourself stuck on the road. Unfortunately, when the roads get trecherous accidents happen more frequently and could even result in a pile up. You could end up stuck on the road for, worst case scenario, hours and using up the gas in your car to stay warm could land you in an even worse situation.
This is an excellent point that newcomers may not consider. U/Advisor_Agreeable wrote:
I would add, as others have alluded to: TIME, TIME, TIME: Give yourself AT LEAST a 30 minute head start to: Dress appropriately, warm up the car/windshield, remove ALL the snow from your car. Deal with traction problems/issues. Driving safely and slowly. Remember that NOT all roads will be plowed or salted. If it rained the night before, then the rain froze, then it snowed overnight, the roads will be like ice rinks, but you won’t see the ice.
Or, if you can, find a place with a covered garage to make life even easier.
5. Snow/Winter Tires
This will be obvious to anyone who has lived in a winter climate for more than one season. As a fellow former southerner, the difference between 'normal' tires and winter tires was astounding. I finally felt safe and like I had better control on the road.
While I try to keep my opinions out of the articles I write, I have a few more tips that helped keep me sane during my very first winter in Michigan:
- Find a routine: you may be stuck at home during the peak of winter. Finding a routine will help you feel not quite as 'stuck.'
- Have plenty of canned goods at home. Should you lose power, you'll be prepared
- Get creative! You're going to be stuck at home anyway. Might as well explore that creative side of yourself you've been ignoring for so long!
Aside from those tips, your fellow Michiganders should be able to help any poor southerner that finds themselves suddenly surrounded by nothing but snow. And if you're that poor southerner, welcome and good luck!
If you are new to the Kalamazoo area specifically, make sure you don't miss the lights displayed in Bronson Park during the holidays. It truly is magical: