We have made it through the first week of the new year and winter finally came!

Despite the cold weather, most of us still have to go to work, students still have to go to school – early in the morning and sometimes return late in the evening from athletic practices or games and in general, we still have to survive.

With the amount of traveling we do during these times, I think it would be a great time to review the ten most important items we should be carrying around in our cars during cold weather.

Now, having lived in Iowa for a few years, I have come to appreciate the hardy stamina of an Iowan along with the fact that most Iowans “know how to get along just fine on their own.”

Okay, that’s all well and good, but I think we sometimes need a friendly “reminder” when it comes to safe traveling in cold weather.

On its website, the Weather Channel listed the following as the ten most important items we should have in our cars during these cold traveling days.

1. Blanket: If you are stuck with a car that won't start, or that has conked out, and have to wait in cold weather for help, you will want a decent warm blanket as an extra layer.

2. Snow shovel: Get a short-handled shovel, probably a coal-type shovel, to stow in the trunk in case you need to remove snow from around the wheels of your vehicle. You can buy plastic ones, but you may want to opt for a metal one in case you also need to chip at some ice or compacted snow.

3. Flashlight: Self explanatory. Keep a good-sized, water-proof flashlight with fresh batteries in case your breakdown is at night. Pack emergency candles too, as a back-up.

4. Hand warmers: Available at camping stores. Smash the bag and the chemical reaction inside creates warmth to defrost fingers that may be trying to change a tire or fiddle with an engine.

5. Matches: You never know when you will have to manufacture heat. It's better than rubbing two old, snowy sticks together, hoping for the best.

6. Bottle of water and a few protein, snack bars. You hear of people surviving on ketchup packets that have fallen between the seats, but some planning will yield a better menu under emergency conditions.

7. Syphon Pump: If being out of gas is your problem, and you get offered help by a good samaritan, you want t be able to get a gallon or two of gas out of another gas tank to get you going quickly.

8. Lightsticks: These cost almost nothing at a dollar store and can be used either as a light source or to wear in case you are shoveling snow around your wheels at night.

9. Flares: These should be in your trunk in all seasons for putting next to your car if you are pulled over in distress.

10. Whistle: It can be used to either signal for help to someone who can't hear you yell, or to scare someone who may be trying to take advantage of your distress.

I will be the first to admit that I don’t carry many of these items around in my car during the winter.

I’m lucky if I remember my gloves and cell phone in the morning.

However, if you find yourself ready to head out on a drive more than an hour away from home, especially in an unfamiliar part of the state or the country, I would strongly recommend purchasing these items for that trip.

Even though this isn’t the first cold winter we have experienced, I would hate for it to be your last one because you didn’t stop and take a few minutes to purchase these items.

You never know when they may come in handy.

***

Now before you jump to any conclusions as to what I’m writing about, next Wednesday, Jan. 17 is National Pooh (Winnie the) Day.

There’s a lot that can be said about Winnie the Pooh and all of his friends.

However, I bet you didn’t know that he was the author of a fitness book.

Since it’s still January and people are still talking about New Year’s resolutions which revolve around losing weight and exercise, I thought I would offer some of Pooh’s tips from this book titled, “Pooh’s Little Fitness Book.”

1. It is important to warm up before exercising. Stretching is an easy way to do so. (If you have no intention of exercising, a good stretch is also a nice way to warm up for a nap.)

2. Walk with a friend on a regular basis. That way, you are more likely to stick to your exercise regimen. Besides, it is so much more friendly with two.

3. Running is the most strenuous of aerobic activities. That is probably why it is practiced infrequently by Pooh and his friends. Don’t run so fast that you cannot enjoy the nice weather or the scenery around you. A trot, skip, or hoppity-hip is sufficient.

4. Do some vigorous jumping throughout the day whenever the opportunity arises. For instance, jump energetically on haycorns after planting them.

5. Find a comfortable spot to sit, close your eyes, and breathe slowly and deeply. Listening to the sounds of the Forest or singing a little Hum while you cool down encourages total muscle relaxation.

Hopefully these few Pooh tips will make it easier to achieve your New Year’s resolutions.

Jim Cross, Editor

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