Winter Ice Safety Tips

A few tips help cold-clime dwellers cope with the inevitable ice.

| January/February 2010

  • Horse with winter coat in snow
    Livestock may need help with traction during particularly bad ice storms.
    Shutterstock/A.W. Evans
  • Flowers covered in snow
    Snow can insulate your garden from the ravages of sub-zero temperatures. Dietze
  • Berries covered in icicles
    Freezing rain with wind can wreak havoc on trees and shrubs. Westhoff
  • Icy road and trees.
    Lovely and treacherous, ice-coated trees and roadways can injure. Sherwood Veith
  • Gritty slips while a chicken looks on.
    Brad Anderson
    Gritty should have used some de-icer.
  • Icicles
    Icicles can grow to sufficient size to weigh down branches and damage fences.
    Lori Dunn

  • Horse with winter coat in snow
  • Flowers covered in snow
  • Berries covered in icicles
  • Icy road and trees.
  • Gritty slips while a chicken looks on.
  • Icicles

With heartfelt conviction, if not absolute certainty, folks often say there are two seasons in Vermont: winter and construction. While many regions in the country can make similar claims, I would pit our Green Mountain State against any of them.

As a devoted horse mom and avid gardener who spends a virtual eternity chipping ice chunks out of water buckets and sheltering tender seedlings from the elements until what seems like the Fourth of July, I have joined the unspoken fellowship of country dwellers who have endured more than their share of blizzards and frozen water pipes.

Although it appears I have earned the dubious respect that comes from being resourceful, as evidenced by a slight nod from my “true” (fourth generation and beyond) Vermonter neighbors, I must confess to a feeling of pride at achieving such recognition as I grudgingly reacquaint myself with the rigors of cold- weather living. The most challenging aspect of the ordeal by far is coping with the ice. Unless you are engaged in a sport for which ice is required, there is little to recommend it – the potential hazards far exceed the fun to be experienced.

Nevertheless, you can combat the worst of it, starting with your cars.

Good tires

I have to get to the barn at least twice a day to take care of my crew – three hot-house-flower, off-the-track Thoroughbreds and two dogs – so getting stuck in a driveway that hasn’t been sanded yet or skidding into a snowbank is not an option. Having dedicated snow tires with studs has been a lifesaver, especially during storms, which have been prolific of late.

A word of warning in this regard: I won’t scrimp when it comes to buying quality tires. The name brands with a good warranty have proven their worth when it comes to reliability and outlasting less expensive alternatives, which makes name-brand tires a more cost-efficient choice in the end; also consider the amount of driving you do and the road conditions, of course. I have found if I keep my tires adequately inflated, they last longer and help with better gas mileage, and, as I have been told by my mechanic, improperly inflated tires are a precursor to losing traction in many conditions.

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