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NDSU Extension: Make sure you're prepared for the winter

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I wasn’t overly prepared for the recent snowfall we had. I guess in my mind I thought last winter was so mild that we couldn’t possible have the extreme cold temperatures and mile high snowbanks as in the past. In typical fashion, I was wrong. There it was and where were my snow boots and other winter gear? Tucked safely aware in a tote from the year before. I even had to remind myself of something my dad always said to me during the winter, “Make sure you girls have a full tank of gas before venturing out.” Yes Dad, I remember and I won’t forget either.

So as the winter brings us what we have all been hoping for, some much needed moisture, here are few things to remind ourselves to help make our winter season a safe one.

Know before you go. A key piece of winter travels is to know what is ahead of you. You should always check your local weather station for an up-to-date forecast before you hit the road. The sky may be clear outside your window, but that does not mean the path to your destination is. If the forecast is questionable, stay put if possible.

Plan your route. Know what the road ahead of you looks like, as road conditions are always changing. To get an idea of current road conditions, check out your state’s Department of Transportation webpage. They regularly update road conditions, letting you know whether roads might be covered in ice or snow, or if there is no travel advised. North Dakota’s Travel Information can be found here:

Prep your car. Before the cold weather sets in, be sure to schedule your vehicle for a tune-up, to ensure your vehicle is ready for the season. During the winter months, you should always keep your vehicle’s gas tank at least half full. You never know when you may become stranded. In addition, be sure to have a winter survival kit available to you in case of emergency.

Tips for shoveling

Dress in several layers so you can remove a layer as needed. Synthetic fibers help wick away perspiration better than natural fibers.

Warm your muscles before shoveling by walking for a few minutes or marching in place. Stretch the muscles in your arms and legs because warm muscles will work more efficiently and be less likely to be injured.

Pick the right shovel for you. A smaller blade will require you to lift less now, putting less strain on your body.

Begin shoveling slowly to avoid placing a sudden demand on your heart. Pace yourself and take breaks as needed.

Protect your back from injury by lifting correctly. Stand with your feet about hip width for balance and keep the shovel close to your body. Bend from the knees (not the back) and tighten your stomach muscles as you lift the snow. Avoid twisting movements. If you need to move the snow to one side, reposition your feet to face the direction the snow will be going.

Most importantly, listen to your body. Stop if you feel pain.

Upcoming NDSU Extension events

Call 701-667-3342 for help gaining access to virtual events or visit for more information.

Jan. 11: Fumigation Training, 10 a.m., Mandan Eagles.

Jan. 11: Morton County Producer Day, 12:30 p.m., Mandan Eagles.

Jan. 11: General Pesticide Training, 6 p.m., Mandan Eagles.

Jan. 11: BSC Ag Marketing Club-Martinson Ag, Zoom.

Feb. 8: BSC Ag Marketing Club-NDSU Extension Specialists, BSC and Zoom.

Karla Meikle is the Morton County Extension agent for 4-H youth development. She can be reached at 701-667-3340 or


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