Friday, November 9, 2012

Commuting Through a Winter Wonderland?

Wow, winter came early this year! With much of the area still reeling from the impact of Hurricane Sandy, mother nature decided to deal us yet another blow by sending in a mid-autumn snowstorm. I can say from experience how weather like this wrecks havoc on a morning commute, and I can also tell you how important it is to make sure your commuting student is prepared for changing, erratic seasons. So, I've prepared below a few helpful tips and reminders to make sure your student can make it to and from campus safely.

1. Pack an ice scraper, snow broom, shovel, extra pair of gloves, de-icer. Now, these are particularly important if your student has a car. Jostling for parking and scraping clean one's windshield are not daily occurrences for anyone planning to take a bus or the train.  That said, many students who commute have their own car on campus and when the snow falls or rain turns icy they need to make sure they can clean off their windows without losing feeling in their fingers (again, I speak from experience here). You would be surprised how many times I got out of class to find my car looking like something the abominable snowman would drive and I had nothing but a tennis racquet to dig my tires out. De-icer spray may seem like a suburban comfort, but it totally saves the day. Scrape and spray some if on the windshield, and bam, your student is ready for safe driving with clear windows and mirrors.

2. Have them download a flashlight app or give them the real thing. Even if your student doesn't drive a car into campus, this is a handy item to keep around. The interior of a car after a snowstorm is dark so again if your student has to clear his or her windows after a storm such as we had this week, a flashlight would allow them to find their handy ice scraper without much fuss. The best thing is, there are flashlight apps for smart phones so if you don't have a pocket flashlight that your student can use, suggest that they download a free flashlight app (there are tons). The LED lights which accompany phones are quite powerful so these can be even more helpful than a garden-variety flashlight.

3. Urge your student to give themselves extra time. This is the single most important thing for a commuter to do in times of inclement weather. Whether your student needs to check an updated MTA/LIRR schedule or just needs to leave the house before that second cup of coffee, it is imperative that they give themselves enough leeway to deal with the possibility of heavy traffic, poor road conditions and less public transportation.

4. Encourage them to make friends with resident students. Sometimes classes end late. Sometimes the roads are dangerous. And sometimes a residential friend can be a student's savor when Father Winter huffs and puffs a nor'easter their way. Stay worry free when your student is warm on campus watching the snow fall with a cup of hot cocoa from C-Square.

Thankfully, the weather in the coming days is slated to be much more pleasant than it has these past couple weeks. Still, these are always things you should keep in mind for your student to make sure their trip to and from campus is as safe and enjoyable as possible.


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