Winterize your life

With more corrupt politicians in court, an eight-term congressman pleading guilty to accepting bribes of $2.4 million and President Bush on the road to promote kinder, gentler immigration policies (Is it possible his could actually be better than the ones we have now?), it would seem this week’s editorial shot would be nothing but net.

But then winter finally hit on Monday, and with the white-knuckle, rush-hour ride home, it seems there are issues of local importance that should be discussed.

First, owners of those little street rods need to consider putting on snow tires. Those high-performance tires are like ice skates on freezing and compacted snow. For everyone else, check the depth of your tread and your tire pressure. Brakes should be examined, as well. This time of year, before the temperatures really drop, is a good time to check your fluids, like oil and anti-freeze. Might be time to replace that battery before you get stranded somewhere on a dark parking lot. And yes, your mom told you this a million times, but you really should consider carrying an emergency kit—jumper cables, flares, basic tools. Kits are sold at auto parts stores. Are you new in the area? You don’t want to wait until you’re driving over the pass to buy tire chains.

For you procrastinators, it’s not too late to winterize your home (and this means renters, too). You’ll be a lot warmer, and you’ll waste a lot less fuel, if you check the caulking around doors and windows. And unless you want to be one of those homes with the lawn geysers that were popping up all over town on Thanksgiving weekend, you want to turn off your irrigation system at the first valve off the home’s main water line—shutting off the sprinklers doesn’t help because pipes generally break at the above-ground valves. For god’s sake, don’t forget to disconnect your garden hoses. Wouldn’t hurt any to put them away, either.

There’s other stuff, too. If you remove the leaves from your gutter now, when we get a 6-foot dump, the gutters are less likely to get ripped off the roof. Gardeners need to drain the gasoline from their various tools—lawn mower, weed whacker, rototiller, whatever. Homeowners might want to get their heating ducts cleaned out and check filters on forced-air heaters as well. (It’ll decrease your sinus problems this winter.) If you are going to be away, don’t turn your heater off, just turn it down to 60 degrees.

Speaking of sinuses, now’s the time to go through the medicine cabinet and throw out expired cold and flu medicines (and you might as well check out the pharmaceuticals, too). Restock medicines, and don’t forget to fill up on zinc, Echinacea and vitamin C before demand inflates prices.

Finally, don’t forget that there are people who aren’t fortunate enough to have a medicine cabinet. They don’t have gutters to clean or heater filters to change. Yes, the new Community Assistance Center is open on Record Street, but there are still families out there who need help. There is still no drop-in center for women (although one is scheduled to open in July). Folks at the Reno Sparks Gospel Mission, 329-0485, can help families who need assistance or to volunteer, call 323-0486 ext. 12