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COLUMN: Tips, tricks and a playlist to keep you warm and safe this winter season

Keep yourself and others safe by doing these five things this winter

Dress the part

The Centers for Disease Contro and Preventionl recommends a “tightly woven, preferably wind-resistant coat or jacket; inner layers of light, warm clothing; mittens; hats; scarves; and waterproof boots.” 

If needed, these items could be bought cheaply at stores like Goodwill and The Salvation Army. 

Get your vehicle ready for the winter

If you own a car, you should make sure everything is working before the snow and ice hit. Be sure to check that your tires have tread and try to buy and use a frost-melting windshield wiper fluid. Also, keep your gas tank full throughout the cold months to ensure ice doesn’t form in the gas line. Lastly, pack a winter safety kit to keep in your car in case you were to get stranded, according to the CDC

This kit can include:

  • Portable phone charger 

  • Food and water

  • Extra hats, coats and mittens

  • Blankets

  • First aid kit

  • Flashlight

  • Tire pump 

  • Flares

  • Cat litter (for traction if you get stuck)

Use a space heater safely

Some older homes or apartments do not have central heating or good insulation. This leaves rooms in need of another form of heat, such as a space heater. If you have a space heater, you should know the risks and how to prevent accidents. Space heaters caused an estimated 1,700 fires last year and about 80 deaths, according to the Consumer Product Safety Commission. 

Here are some tips for using a space heater safely, according to the City of Bloomington. 

  • Place it on a flat and level surface.

  • Keep the space heater at least three feet away from bedding, drapes and other flammable fabric. 

  • Keep pets away from the space heater.

  • Do not have your space heater in a place in your home that gets a lot of foot traffic. 

  • Turn the space heater off before you go to sleep or when you leave the room it’s in.

  • Make sure your carbon monoxide detectors and fire alarms are all working. 

Make sure your home is winter ready:

Even if you're renting a house or apartment, there are some places you can check and ask your landlord to fix before the temperatures drop to make sure your space is safe. The first is checking your heating system is working, meaning that you turn it on before it gets really cold, and if it’s not working, ask your landlord so maintenance can be completed. Another important precaution is to make sure you have an alternative form of heating such as a functional fireplace or a space heater in case your heat goes out during a winter storm, according to the CDC.

You will want to make sure your water pipes do not freeze, according to the City of Bloomington.

Prevent your pipes from freezing by:

  • Letting your faucets drip a bit.

  • Knowing where your water pipes are. If you rent, you can ask your landlord. 

  • Keeping the cabinets under your sink open (for sinks on outside walls).

  • Undoing hoses connected to outdoor faucets and wrapping them in rags or something similar.

  • Keep the garage door closed (if you have a garage with pipes).

If your pipes freeze: 

  • Try using a hair dryer on them.

  • Turn the faucets on a little bit to try to get the water moving again.

  • Never use an open flame on the pipes.

If a frozen pipe bursts:

  • Find the shut-off valve and turn it off. 

  • Call your landlord or a plumber to get it fixed.

Know of other options for shelter 

You or someone you know may be experiencing homelessness. People can call 211 or visit Helping Bloomington Monroe which gives information and resources on various topics including shelter. 

The City of Bloomington occasionally provides warming stations. Information for those can normally be found on the city’s website

Here are a few places in Bloomington to go:

  • Beacon/Shalom Community Center: 812-334-5728

  • A Friend’s Place: 812-332-1444

  • Wheeler Mission: 812-334-4047

  • New Hope Family Shelter: 812-334-9840

  • Amethyst House: (men’s) 812-336-2812 or (women’s) 812-336-2666 

  • Middle Way House: (24-hour crisis line) 812-336-0846


The perfect playlist to keep you warm on your walk to class

As a senior, I’ve had my fair share of cold walks to campus. However, one blessing of online classes last year was getting to stay in my warm house in the winter. Getting used to the walk again has been hard, but the perfect music makes it easier. I will admit this playlist is a bit all over the place, but it will keep you on your toes so you can make sure you don’t lose feeling in them.

“I Felt the Chill Before the Winter Came” by Elvis Costello 

This slow song is the perfect way to get calm and collected while getting ready to leave for the freezing, gray outdoors. 

“Summer Song” by Louis Armstrong 

Close your eyes (metaphorically, because you’re walking) and let this man's iconic voice wrap you up like a hug. This is also a nice slowdown to get you going slowly but surely on a cold morning. 

“Island in the Sun” by Weezer 

Something about Weezer, no matter the song or album, automatically transports me to a beach. Even if you step outside into gloom, you can pretend you're on a sunny island. 

“(Love Is Like A) Heat Wave” by Martha Reeves and the Vandellas 

This fast-paced oldie is guaranteed to get you walking quickly along to the catchy beat. 

“Sweater Weather” by The Neighbourhood

This 2014 staple song will never not remind me of sitting in my bedroom under a bunch of covers in the winter, probably scrolling through Tumblr. 

“Hot Love” by T. Rex 

This one, while having fun lyrics about heat, also has a catchy and driving beat that you can strut along to make it great walking music. Also, the “la la la’s” make it a fun one to sing. Anything to distract from how cold you are, right?

“Cold Cold Cold” by Cage The Elephant 

This pop rock song, while chalked full of lyrics about the cold, still has a driving beat and ear-worm lyrics that will “help you feel right” for what’s left of your travel to the warm halls of an academic building. 

“Hot N Cold” by Katy Perry 

This is another throwback, perfect for when you're feeling hot or cold. This song will warm you right up with some nostalgia. 

“Winter” by Khalid 

This pop hit, even though it has sad lyrics like the chorus, “Love grows colder in the winter,”  is upbeat and will help the time your outside speed by.

“If We Make It Through December” by Phoebe Bridgers

This cover of the Merle Haggard song is perfectly beautiful and melancholy. It’s a nice end to this playlist, slowly bringing you back to the dreary, wintery reality. 

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