Minus 49


It was minus 49 degrees with the wind-chill this morning. Brrrr. That’s crazy cold. It’s not quite to the point where you could throw water into the air and it comes down as ice, but that doesn’t feel too far away. It’s one of the days your tires feel like squares as you drive to work. This is the kind of day you need to plug in your car or you can forget about it starting (Most Canadian vehicles are equipped with block heaters which is a little heater you plug in to keep the oil in your car warm). It’s the kind of day you wouldn’t want to get stranded on the road.

I recall a frigid day just like this when I was driving my wife’s car down the gravel road on my way to work, back in 1994 (I was an Industrial Arts teacher at the time). The road was in good shape, but my tires grabbed a little bit of gravel and the car began to fishtail. It swung one way, I corrected, it swung the other, I corrected and I thought I had everything under control. Suddenly the car swung one more time and I over corrected and headed straight for the ditch. One more large over-correction and I ended up flipping the car onto its roof. Everything went into slow motion as I skidded along the edge of the road, thinking is this really happening?

The snowbank was coming at me at an incredibly fast pace, then the roof caved in and I ducked so that it wouldn’t hit me in the head. The windshield smashed! I was panicked and wondered how much worse this was going to get, was I going to get pinned to the seat? Finally I came to a stop! I undid my seatbelt and fell onto the roof, then I turned the window down (actually up) so I could get out of the car. I wasn’t sure how long it would be, but it was frigid and I knew I was going to get cold quick. I wasn’t prepared, I was wearing a light winter jacket and my Doc Martins. I knew my wife was going to work, but thought she was taking the other road, so I began to run for the highway. I ran a mile in that frigid weather and each stride I took my shoes became more and more like bricks hitting the roadway. Thankfully my wife saw someone out for a morning run on this desolate stretch of road and everything turned out alright, except for the fact I’d just totaled her vehicle. This outcome was very favourable, but certainly isn’t guaranteed.

Think of what your vehicle is enduring, at minus 34 at the highway speed of 110 km/hr the wind-chill is almost minus 70. We get so used to our frigid temperatures that we’re often without some basic necessities that we should have in case of an emergency. Are you prepared in the case of a vehicle or driver malfunction? Make sure you have enough fuel and dress warmly: mitts, toque, boots, and a good winter jacket. Other winter driving tips

Do yourself a favour and stay inside if you can … maybe even curl up in front of the fireplace. If you do go out, make sure you’re prepared.

Have a Safe and Merry Christmas Everyone!

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