The choice is yours: Commit a misdemeanor offense or become a human popsicle
Here’s the (very real) scenario: It’s 0 degrees Fahrenheit outside, and the mercury in your thermometer has retreated to Mexico for the winter. You’re leaving for work in 10 minutes. What do you do?
If your initial reaction was to warm up your car before hitting the road, you could be breaking the law. As the nationwide temperatures plummet amid a biting cold spell, millions will go outside to turn the key, walk back inside, and unknowingly commit a misdemeanor offense.
That’s right: In the entire state of Ohio, for instance, it’s 100 percent illegal to let your car idle for any period of time.
Even in their own driveways, Ohioans must kill their engines and set their parking brakes to comply with state law. Which would be cool and all, if the high on Dec. 16 in Columbus weren’t 17 freakin’ degrees.
And it’s not just the Buckeye state that’s sending shivers down our spines. In Auburn, California, the windchill on Dec. 16 is 35 degrees, which is like 0 degrees for locals who will grapple with the decision of risking a $50 citation to thaw their vehicles.
And in Washington D.C., anyone caught idling their car for more than 3 minutes may be fined up to $5,000.
We’re all for mitigating the effects of air pollution . . . but we’re also not trying to experiment with cryogenics on the way to work.
There’s a reasonable solution, and it’s in Denver: The city permits idling below 20 degrees, which is so rational that it’s bound to never take on elsewhere. If you’re worried about getting ticketed during the cold front, look up your municipality on the EPA’s anti-idling regulations guide.
Meanwhile, if you’re freezing your butt off right now, beat the cold with these handy tips from the U.S. Ski Team, who know a thing or two about performing in frigid temperatures.
Scarf up. “The majority of your body heat is released through the neck, so make sure to have a good balaclava or bandana,” says freeskier Nick Goepper.
Shrug your shoulders. “It brings blood flow to your fingers. It’s something I do a lot,” says snowboarder Elena Hight.
Get silly. “Jump around and move your body in any weird fashion to get blood flowing. We go to a lot of areas that are very, very cold and I’ve seen a lot of different ways to stay warm. A lot of them look very awkward, but they work,” says ski cross racer John Teller.