15 things every NJ resident should have before winter hits
Another winter is right around the corner, New Jersey. And that means soon enough we'll have to endure biting cold temperatures and snowdrifts measured in feet. Are you ready?
I decided to piece together a list of some of my favorite winter weather gear. Let's go beyond the standard supply kit and bread and milk with some of the smartest and funnest investments you can make before Ol' Man Winter rears his ugly head again.
(Note: New Jersey 101.5 earns revenue if you purchase any of these winter weather supply kit items using the Amazon links provided below.)
For the Car
Extendable Snowbroom and Ice Scraper — You know it is the law to completely clean snow/ice off your car before driving. That task can be difficult when your ride is a big SUV or pickup truck. This sucker gives you a 5-foot reach if you need it, and even pivots for multi-directional functionality. This is the exact snow brush I keep in my car!
Portable Shovel — When I lived in the snowy Finger Lakes of Central New York, it was just a fact of life that you'd occasionally have to dig out your car from a snowbank or plow line. This compact shovel is affordable and easily breaks down to fit in your trunk or under a seat, just in case you need it.
Emergency Sleeping Bag or Blanket — Last winter, my car died at 3 a.m. on the coldest day of the year. I really wish I had an extra emergency blanket handy while I waited an hour for the tow truck. I like the idea of having a combination sleeping bag and blanket stashed in your car, as it's easy to store. And of course, it can be used as a regular sleeping bag too!
Trapper Hat with Faux Fur — My wife bought one of these for me last Christmas, and it has become my favorite piece of wintertime gear. Remember as your mama told you, a large amount of your body heat escapes through your head. The flaps on this hat keep your ears nice and toasty. And the fur serves an important purpose too — wind gets "trapped" in the fur, reducing the biting wind chill effect.
Touch Screen Gloves — Fantastic for everyday use in the winter. The metallic fibers in this type of glove allows you to use the capacitive touchscreen on your phone without succumbing to frostbite. But since they're on the thin side, maybe not so great if you're shoveling or throwing snowballs.
Spring-Assisted Snow Shovel — I hate shoveling. Hate, hate, hate it. This high-tech spring-powered snow shovel is pretty neat, using a bit of physics to reduce the workload of pushing heavy snow around.
Electric Snow Thrower — Full disclosure: I have a whole fleet of Greenworks machinery in my shed, and the snow blower is not really my favorite. The battery holds a great charge and the machine is more powerful than you'd think. However, the all-plastic construction — including the blade — is limiting. Therefore, I fully recommend this product for small to medium, "run of the mill" type snow events. But for wet snow or a big blizzard, you'd need something more rugged and powerful.
Snow and Ice Melt Pellets — Don't have pets? Go with calcium chloride snow melt pellets, which are effective in temperatures as low as -25 degrees Fahrenheit. Worried about pet paws? Magnesium chloride is safer but slightly less effective, "only" working to 0 degrees Fahrenheit. Sprinkling table salt, sodium chloride? Only works a few degrees below the freezing mark.
Emergency Radio and Charger — A similar product helped me get through the extended power outages from Superstorm Sandy several years ago. And they have only gotten more versatile and useful. This particular model has a good-sized battery for charging cell phones, etc. The built-in flashlight can come in handy. And, of course, the radio is a great way to hear your latest weather forecast!
Snowball Maker — I always wanted one of these in my snow fort growing up, to make rapid-fire perfect snowballs.
Snowman Kit — While it's fun to raid the winter clothing bin (and the vegetable crisper) for snowman attire, having an all-in-one kit isn't a bad idea. I feel like this would be a great gift idea too, for your favorite snowperson-building enthusiast.
Inflatable Snow Tube — Flexible flyers and toboggan style sleds are great, but this was absolutely my favorite kind of sled as a kid. Super-fast, big enough to bring a friend, and relatively lightweight to drag to the top of all those hills.
Hot Chocolate on a Stick — What's the best way to warm up after a long, cold afternoon of shoveling or snowman-building? Hot chocolate. What's better than regular ol' powdered hot chocolate? Hot chocolate on a stick, of course.
Rice Krispie Treats — If you follow my wintertime forecasts, you know that my wife and kids always make me a big batch of rice krispie treats as a special reward after a big snowstorm. (A fantastic tradition!) You can join in the fun and tradition too — although these off-the shelve treats are not nearly as good as my wife's!)
Instant Snow Powder — In case of a disappointing winter, this stuff could still put you in the holiday spirit. I use this product for my wintertime school demonstrations. Just add a bit of water, and this innocuous white powder blossoms into a fluffy snow-like substance. Science in action!
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