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There are ways to beat the winter doldrums

Published: Friday, March 8, 2013 8:10 p.m. CST

As we are in the midst of winter, there are still some things you, as a family, can do to help with the doldrums of the months and also keep your home safe and energy efficient.

Some fun things that you can do:

• As the daylight hours are shorter, seeing a sunset and taking photos as a family. This is a great way to get out of the house and to experience an awesome color show through the clouds.

• Stay fit by continuing to take walks or hikes as a family. Remember, even though it is cold outside, to keep yourself hydrated by taking a reusable water bottle with you.

Snowfall Facts

Even though this winter has been pretty scanty for the amount of snowfall precipitation, when it does snow it is great to know some cool facts in regard to the snowflakes:

• Snow originates in clouds as water crystals clinging on to tiny bits of dust particles. • Some snowflakes have as much as 200 crystals. • Snowflakes have six sides to them and the largest snowflake was measured as fifteen (15) inches wide by eight (8) inches thick. • Average snowflakes fall at 3 miles per hour. • The most snowfall within a 24-hour period of time was 76 inches in 1921 in Silver Lake, Colo.

Outside Activities

Fun Outside Activities for your family:

• Snowflake observation: Using black construction paper, a magnifying glass, and falling or fresh snowflakes do the following: 1) Freeze the black construction paper 2) Let the snow fall onto the frozen paper 3) Quickly look at the intricacy of each snowflake with the magnifying glass 4) Draw or cut out the design that you most enjoyed viewing.

• Be still and listen to the sounds of winter, from the wind and birds, to the snow crunching under foot

• Take a pine cone and cover it with a mixture consisting of one part peanut butter and five parts cornmeal. This makes a great treat when hung for birds such as woodpeckers, chickadees, and warblers.

• Pretend that you are an animal in search of shelter and a home for winter. Where would you nest? Find areas in which animals are doing just that.

Winter Tips

• Winterize your vehicle by checking all of the fluid levels such as radiator, oil, brake, transmission, and windshield washer.

• Use a shovel, broom or electrical snow blower when clearing sidewalks and driveways instead of a gas-powered snow blower.

• Use an Energy Star programmable thermostat for your home and program it for daily and weekend temperature use. It may help you save up to $100 a year in keeping the home warmed only when necessary.

• Close the recycling loop by purchasing winter apparel made of recycled materials.

• Have a routine checkup of your heating system to ensure that it is safe and operating efficiently.
Heidi Miller is the land use director for Grundy County.

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