When you peek out your window to a scene that looks more like a snow globe than your front yard, it's clear that winter isn't just coming—it's already here. Seeing your vehicle buried under a foot of snow might make you wish for a snow day, but life goes on, and so must you.
We've all been there, and while it may feel daunting, tackling the aftermath of a blizzard doesn't have to be an uphill battle. Whether you're gearing up for work, about to make a grocery run, or simply trying to reclaim your car from its snowy cocoon, a strategic approach will turn this chilly chore into a manageable part of your day.
Before you start rummaging for the snow shovel or ice scraper, let's talk strategy, safety, and snow removal smarts. From clearing your walkway to de-icing your driveway and unburying your car, we're here to guide you through each step with practical tips, seasoned advice, and a veteran understanding of the challenges of northern winters. Ready? Let's dive in.
1) Assessing the Situation
Standing at your door, coffee in hand, you might be tempted to start the great dig-out immediately. But hold on—strategy is key. First, take a moment to really look at what you're up against. How much snow are we talking about? Is it the light, fluffy type that a stiff breeze might whisk away, or is it the dense, wet variety that threatens to turn into a mini glacier on your hood?
Understanding the type of snowfall is crucial, as it determines the tools and techniques you'll need to clear the area efficiently. And while you're at it, take a quick peek at your local weather updates or road conditions through your trusty weather app or local news. Knowing if more snow is on the way or if the roads are passable can save you a lot of hassle later on.
Remember, the goal here isn't just to clear the snow; it's to do so efficiently and safely, ensuring that you and your vehicle are ready to face the roads if need be. So, before you step into the winter wonderland that your driveway has become, here's your pre-clearing checklist:
- Weather and Road Check: Confirm road conditions and any ongoing snowfall warnings.
- Dress Appropriately: Layers are your friends. And so are gloves, a hat, and waterproof boots.
- Tool Check: Ensure your snow brush, shovel, and any other snow removal tools are at hand.
2) Safety First
Before you start digging yourself out, here are some safety measures to keep top of mind:
- Check for Ice: Slippery spots aren't always obvious. A quick check for ice patches, especially on pathways and around your car, can prevent a nasty fall. Consider scattering some eco-friendly ice melt on your walkways and driveway before you start clearing snow to ensure you’ve got a safe footing.
- Proper Attire is Key: Dress to protect. Insulated, water-resistant gloves will guard your hands against frostbite and blisters, while a warm hat and a scarf can keep you toasty when the wind decides to join the fray. And those boots? Make sure they have a good grip—you don't want to be sliding around while handling snow removal tools.
- Stay Visible: If your car is street-parked or you're clearing snow near a road, wear bright colors or a reflective vest. Visibility can be poor in winter weather conditions, and you want to make sure distracted or hurried drivers can see you.
- Know Your Limits: Shoveling snow is a workout, and like any exercise, it's important to know your limits. Take breaks, stay hydrated, and use proper lifting techniques to avoid overexertion or injury. Remember, the snow isn't going anywhere fast, and your health comes first.
- Emergency Numbers: Keep your phone in a warm pocket, and make sure you have important numbers saved, just in case. Whether it's a neighbor, a family member, or local emergency services, knowing you can make a call if needed can provide peace of mind.
3) Clearing a Path
Before you even lay a finger on your car, there’s a critical first step that can't be overlooked: carving out a clear, safe path from your door to the driveway. You need to create a safe zone to secure a path for when you’re ready to drive.
- Start with the Basics: Grab your shovel and start with the walkway and steps. Clear a path wide enough for safe walking, and remember to shovel away any snow blocking your doors, garage, or gates. It’s not just about getting to your car; it’s about ensuring you have access to all necessary areas of your home.
- Salt as You Go: Once you've cleared a path, scatter some salt or a pet and plant-safe melting agent to prevent ice from forming. Focus on areas where foot traffic is common, like your home's entrance, steps, and the path to your vehicle.
- Strategic Shoveling: If the snow is deep, don't try to shovel the full depth in one go. Instead, shovel in layers to reduce strain on your back and arms. Push the snow to the sides of your walkways and driveway, creating piles that won’t obstruct your path or visibility.
- Remember the Mailbox and Vents: Ensure that your home's vents, meters, and mailbox are clear of snow. These are easy to overlook but are essential for the safety and functionality of your home.
4) The Car Clearing Strategy
With your path cleared, it's time to focus on your snow-draped vehicle. Clearing your car of snow is all about preventing damage to your vehicle and ensuring the safety of everyone on the road. Here's how to tackle the task effectively:
- Choose the Right Tool: For the safety of your car's finish and ease, a high-quality snow removal tool like the SnoBrum is invaluable. Its soft, non-abrasive foam head is gentle on your car's surface, and the extendable handle means you can reach every snow-covered nook and cranny without turning yourself into a snowman.
- Top-Down Approach: Always start from the top. Clear the snow off your car's roof first. Not only is it required by law in many places, but it also prevents snow from sliding onto cleared areas as you work your way down. Use your SnoBrum to push the snow off the roof, hood, and trunk before tackling the windows.
- Don’t Forget the Details: Clear the snow from around the lights, mirrors, and license plates. Make sure your car's sensors and cameras are snow-free. These small details can make a big difference in your car's functionality and your safety on the road.
- Check the Exhaust Pipe: Ensure that your car's exhaust pipe is clear of snow. A blocked exhaust can lead to dangerous carbon monoxide buildup inside the vehicle.
- The Finishing Touches: Once the bulk of the snow is gone, use a soft brush or a microfiber cloth to gently remove any remaining snow or ice from your windshield, windows, and mirrors. This step ensures maximum visibility and prevents any potential damage from ice scrapers.
5) Before You Hit the Road
Your car is now free of snow, but before you slide into the driver's seat and turn the key, a few important checks are in order. Ensuring your vehicle is truly road-ready, especially after a hefty snowfall, is about more than just snow removal. Here’s what you need to do to ensure a safe and smooth journey:
- Warm Up Your Car: Let your car run for a few minutes before you start driving. This precaution helps to warm up the engine, defrost the windows, and activate your heater, making for a more comfortable and safe drive. However, remember to never warm up a vehicle in an enclosed area, such as a garage, to avoid the risk of carbon monoxide poisoning.
- Clear Visibility: Double-check that all your windows, mirrors, and cameras are clear of snow, ice, and fog. Visibility is key in post-snowstorm conditions. Use your defroster to clear any interior fogging and ensure your wiper fluid is full and winter-grade to combat any slushy spray from the road.
- Inspect Your Lights: Turn on your headlights, tail lights, brake lights, and turn signals. Snow and ice can obscure your lights, reducing visibility to other drivers. Ensure they are all functioning and visible.
- Check Tire Pressure and Tread: Cold weather can cause your tire pressure to drop. Ensure your tires are properly inflated according to the manufacturer's recommendations. Also, check your tire tread to ensure you have adequate grip on slippery roads.
- Fuel Up: It's always wise to have a full or near-full tank of gas in winter. Not only does it prevent the gas line from freezing, but it also ensures you won’t be stranded if you’re caught in unexpected traffic or road conditions.
6) Post-Storm Car Maintenance
After conquering the snow on your car and ensuring it's ready for the road, don't forget the post-storm care your vehicle needs. The aftermath of a blizzard can be tough on your car, and a little maintenance can go a long way in preserving its health and appearance. Here are some key post-storm maintenance tips:
- Wash Off the Salt: Road salt is great for melting ice but can be brutal on your car, leading to rust and corrosion. Once the roads are clear, give your car a thorough wash, paying special attention to the undercarriage, wheel wells, and any other places where salt and grime tend to accumulate.
- Check Fluid Levels: Winter can be harsh on your vehicle's fluids. Post-storm, check your antifreeze levels, wiper fluid (make sure it's winter-grade to prevent freezing), and oil levels. Keeping these fluids at proper levels ensures your car runs smoothly, even in the coldest temperatures.
- Inspect for Damage: It's not uncommon for snow and ice to hide scrapes, cracks, or other damage. Once your car is clean, give it a once-over to ensure that the winter weather hasn't taken a toll on your vehicle's body or windshield.
- Monitor Tire Condition: Cold temperatures can affect tire pressure and performance. After a major snowfall, check your tire pressure again and inspect your tires for any signs of damage or excessive wear, especially if you've driven over rough, icy roads.
- Regular Maintenance Check: Post-blizzard is a good time to catch up on any regular maintenance. Check your vehicle's manual for any services that are due, and consider scheduling an appointment. Regular maintenance is key to keeping your car reliable, especially during the winter months.
7) On the Road After a Blizzard
Navigating the roads after a blizzard requires more than just good driving skills; it demands patience, preparation, and an understanding of winter road etiquette. Here are some essential tips to keep in mind when you're driving in post-blizzard conditions:
- Drive Slowly and Deliberately: The roads may be more treacherous than they appear, especially if there's black ice. Reduce your speed and allow yourself extra time to reach your destination. Quick maneuvers and sudden stops are risky, so keep it slow to maintain control of your vehicle.
- Maintain a Safe Distance: Keep a generous distance between your vehicle and the one in front of you. Stopping distances can be significantly longer on snowy or icy roads, and having extra space can make all the difference in preventing collisions.
- Beware of Snow Banks: High piles of snow on the sides of roads can limit your visibility, especially at intersections. Approach them cautiously and edge forward slowly until you can see clearly in all directions.
- Use Your Lights: Keep your headlights on to increase your vehicle's visibility to others, even during daylight hours. Snowy conditions can reduce visibility, and your lights can help other drivers see you sooner.
- Avoid Cruise Control: Maintain full control of your vehicle in winter conditions. Using cruise control on slick roads can lead to loss of traction, so it's best to manage your speed manually.
- Know Your Brakes: Whether you have anti-lock brakes or not, the best way to stop in ice and snow is to press the brakes gently and give yourself plenty of space to come to a stop. If you start to skid, ease off the brakes and steer in the direction you want to go.
- Prepare for Emergencies: Keep an emergency kit in your car with items like blankets, a flashlight, water, snacks, and a first-aid kit. Also, ensure your phone is charged before you leave if you need to call for help.
8) Planning Ahead
The calm after the storm is the perfect time to reflect and prepare for the next snowy encounter. Being proactive can significantly reduce the stress and chaos of post-blizzard scenarios. Here's how you can stay one step ahead of winter:
- Stock Up on Supplies: Ensure you have all the necessary supplies before the snow hits. Keep your snow removal tools like the SnoBrum handy, but also pack ice melt, windshield washer fluid, and a sturdy shovel. Keeping an extra supply of these items in your garage or trunk means you won't be caught off guard.
- Vehicle Readiness: Regularly check and maintain your vehicle's winter readiness. Check your tire pressure and tread depth, ensure your battery is in good condition, and test whether your heating system works effectively. A well-maintained vehicle is less likely to let you down in cold weather.
- Stay Informed: Keep an eye on the weather forecasts, especially during the winter months. Knowing when to expect heavy snowfall allows you to adjust your plans accordingly, reducing the need to rush out in bad conditions.
- Emergency Plan: Have a plan in place for severe storms. Make sure you have a backup power source, stock up on non-perishable food items, and keep a means of staying warm if the power goes out.
- Learn from Experience: After each storm, take a moment to note what went well and what could be improved. Did your snow removal tools do the job? Were there any supplies you found yourself wishing you had? Learning from each event will make you more prepared for the next.
A foot of snow on your car might feel like winter's way of testing your patience, but with the right approach and tools, it's a challenge you can handle. As the snow clears and the roads open up, take a moment to appreciate your efforts. Each shovelful of snow, every careful step on icy walkways, and the meticulous clearing of your car are testaments to your resilience and preparation. Winter might bring its challenges, but it also brings out the best in our ability to adapt and overcome.
Trust the #1 Snow Rake for Cars
Don't let winter catch you off guard. Equip yourself with Angel-GUARD's trusted snow removal tools, like the SnoBrum, and make your post-blizzard routine smoother, safer, and more efficient. Browse our winter tools to find the perfect snow brush this season. And remember, we're here to help you tackle winter head-on, one snowflake at a time. Follow us @angelguardinc for more tips, tricks, and product updates to keep you one step ahead of the snow.