AccuWeather: 5 simple tricks to cheat winter


Yes, it is technically winter around here. It hasn’t felt like it. But when winter creates messy conditions with ravaging snow, pounding ice and frigid air, there can be numerous hazards that interrupt everyday life.

Here are some safety tips and tricks that may come in handy when winter strikes.

1. Turn cat litter into makeshift road salt

If moving your vehicle out of an icy, snowy driveway is proving difficult and salt is not readily available, the American Automobile Association (AAA) recommends re-purposing a common household item.

Clay-based cat litter can act similar to sand and other road formulations made to add traction on slippery roadways. By spreading the litter in front of or behind the wheels of a vehicle, the tires have more to grip and will move without shifting across icy terrain.

For rear-wheel based vehicles, AAA also recommends placing bags of sand, litter or other heavier objects in the trunk or bed to add weight and increase traction.

You can also temporarily place car mats behind tires to gain initial traction when first moving the car on ice or snow.

2. Don’t have enough fire wood? Try newspapers

When temperatures plummet and howling outdoor conditions make for chilly, bleak days, many people turn to fireplaces in order to radiate heat inside their home. Collecting enough wood can be a challenge at times, and there is a trick that works in a pinch.

According to the Environmental Protection Agency, you can fashion makeshift fire logs by recycling old newspapers. They suggest to roll newspapers around a broom or similar size pole until the paper is at the desired size. Dunk the “log” into water and let it completely soak. Let it dry out overnight and by the time morning rolls around and the house is cold after a night’s sleep, you’ll have a paper log suitable for burning like regular wood.

3. Keep your hot water tank warm

According to the California Energy Commission, you can reduce your heating bill by up to 10 percent this winter by adding a little insulation to your hot water heater.

Especially for older tanks, adding a jacket insulation will reduce the energy used to heat water as the tank will stay slightly warmer. When using a gas water heater, be sure to leave the air intake vent uncovered.

4. Add extra traction to your bike

Not willing to let the snow and ice get in your way and keep your exercise limited to the indoors? There is a cheap, effective solution probably sitting in your house already. suggest spacing out zip ties around your bike tires to add more traction. Instead of buying expensive chains or specialty tires, just take a pack of zip ties and attach them to the wheels. Place a zip tie on every other rim section, in between the spokes. When securing, pull them tightly and make sure the clasp is facing inside the wheel. Be sure to trim any excess plastic off.

5. Eliminate the static

With winter’s drier conditions, people deal with more static electricity with clothes and hair during the colder months. Instead of being pestered by clingy clothes and hair, there is a cheap, simple solution.

Just like when you use them when doing laundry, dryer sheets will remove the pesky static by rubbing the sheet on your clothing and even on your hair. As a bonus, the sheets will also tame any frizz.

According to AccuWeather Senior Meteorologist Elliot Abrams, static occurs because of the difference in charge between two objects.

“The transfer of charge is most effective in very dry air, so the problems are typically most severe in winter,” he said. “Dryer sheets interfere with the charge transfer process.”


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