Saturday, February 17, 2007

Post-Storm Lessons Learned

It's been too long since I posted anything here.

This past week we got a major snow and ice storm in Pennsylvania. My area didn't get too much snow, but we did get a few inches of sleet which shortly compacted into an ice crust. Thankfully, I was able to work from home so didn't have to try venturing out into it, even though my employer was open.

When it came time to clear my sidewalks and driveway I ran into trouble. My snowblower had been sitting since last year and both tires were flat, and unseated from the rims. I wasn't able to get them back on myself. (I know about the starting fluid + a match trick, but didn't want to blow myself up.) Luckily, my neighbor bailed me out and cleared off my sidewalk with his snowblower. I could have shoveled it, but this stuff was heavy and the whole reason I bought a snowblower was to save my back.

This morning I took my snowblower out of the shed and took the wheels off, then brought them up to the service station at the end of my block, where the mechanic was able to get the tires seated on the rims and inflated. I wasn't the first person to do so since Wednesday. Now it's all back together with a block of wood underneath the center, keeping the wheels off the ground while it's in storage. Annoying but now I know better.

Hopefully more people will take away some lessons from the I-78 SNAFU which makes my little inconvenience a trifling matter. As you're probably aware, many motorists got stranded on I-78 in Berks County, many of whom had to sit in a 50 mile traffic jam through a blizzard. PennDOT could've done better, but if you're traveling in winter it's foolish to go unprepared for getting stuck, even if you plan to take only major highways. At a minimum, dress appropriately, make sure your car has water and food for at least 24 hours, a candle lantern and matches or a lighter*, blankets or sleeping bags for each person, and a charger for your cell phone. A CB radio is a very handy thing to have when on the highway.

* Aside from light, a candle can warm the interior of a stranded vehicle. Many of the folks stuck ran their cars for heat until they were out of gas.