All posts by Susan

I founded the site many moons ago. The support we get and the good info from around the country keeps it going. My favorite thing is a piece of advice that we haven't heard - and it gets harder to come by after thousands of interviews. Have questions? Email me. I'm happy to answer them as soon as I can.

Snow in the Southwest

Here in Minnesota, we drive on ice and snow most winters (OK, not this one, a reprieve after last year’s mammoth storms). We were reading through the weather report (yes, that’s what we do) and have some tips for the Southwest pulled from a larger article on driving in snow.

  1. If you must drive, clear off your windshield, windows, mirrors, headlights and brake lights (no one can see covered snow or ice covered brake lights).
  2. Make sure your wipers and headlights are turned on.
  3. Be patient – don’t rush! Remember, everyone else will be running late, too!
  4. Drive for the conditions. Go well below the speed limit – ice, snow, traffic and poor visibility will require longer following and stopping distances (allow at least 8 to 10 seconds for stopping).
  5. If you do come across a snow plow or sand truck, don’t panic, drive slowly and give them the right of way.
    • Drive slow, leave plenty of room for stopping distance (at least 150 ft.) and pay attention to the snow plow and what it is doing.
    • Snow plows and sand trucks may stop, back up or turn around suddenly
  6. Stay in the inside lane (the one furthest away from the curb) on multi-lane roads. Single lane road? Drive closer to the middle of the road. Why? Snow tends to drift and pile up on to the sides of the road.
  7. Drive in tire tracks that have already been established.
  8. Don’t changes lanes unless it’s necessary – you could catch a wheel in the heavy snow or an ice patch and lose control.
  9. Watch out for black ice. Black ice is common under bridges and overpasses. It’s called black ice because it’s dark and hard to see.
  10. If you need to make an emergency stop, don’t pump the brakes if your car has an Anti-Lock Brake System (ABS). When you release the brake, your car’s brake system will turn off and on.
  11. If you are stranded or stuck in a snowbank, do the following:
    • Using the shovel in your winter car emergency kit, clear away the snow from around the tires, under the car and near the exhaust.
    • If you have sand in your car, scatter it around the front tires (for front-wheel drive cars) or around the rear-tires (for rear-wheel drive cars).
    • Put the car in a low gear and go SLOW – do not spin the tires! This could ruin your clutch or transmission and create ice under your tires.
    • If the situation allows (and it’s safe), try to slowly “rock” the car back and forth to build a small amount of momentum.
    • Call roadside assistance if you are unable to free the car.

Good luck during this holiday travel week!!

– Susan

Vacation? Check These 6 Things

Go through this list and make sure you’ve got the names, numbers, dates, emails, and documents you need for  vacation.

  1. Hotel: Reconfirmed – Online confirmation printed or saved in phone – In person reservation? Get the name of the person you spoke with and the date – Confirmation number(s) – Email Confirmations Printed
  2. Airplane: Reconfirmed tickets/departure time – Confirmation number(s) – E-Ticket Printed or in Phone
  3. Car Rental: Reconfirmed – Confirmation number(s) – Email Confirmations Printed or in Phone
  4. Train: Reconfirmed tickets/departure time – Confirmation number(s) – E-Ticket Printed or in Phone
  5. Driving to your vacation destination? Call ahead and reconfirm: Your Arrival – Date/Time of Conversation – Person Spoke With – Confirming (and printing) route you’re planning to take
  6. Re-evaluate itinerary. Make any necessary changes. Leave a final copy with a friend, family member or trusted neighbor.

WHN TIP – At the Office: Leave your itinerary with a co-worker. Why? Often the first sign that something may be wrong is when someone doesn’t show up at work when they are due back.

Blizzard Coming? 2 Things to Remember

When a blizzard or winter storm warning is in the forecast, it’s a good thing to know the emergency response plan for your workplace, your children’s school or child care center, as well as other places where your family spends time (i.e. church, gym, rec center).

If you need to go get a child, friend or family member, be sure your car emergency kit is ready. Include water, first aid, and a way to signal need for help, flashlight & batteries, warm blankets, a shovel, and a battery-operated radio.

More here.

‘Kids and Cars’ Safety Tips

With the kids back in school, you’re probably driving a car load of kids to soccer practice, ballet classes, baseball games and more.

Here are some kids and casr safety tips to share with all of the kids you’re taking around town.

  1. Never start the car until EVERYONE, including yourself, are buckled up.
  2. Remind children not to distract the driver while the vehicle is in motion.
  3. “Everyone must buckle up, no matter how short the trip,” says Jennifer Huebner from the AAA’s Traffic Safety Programs. Setting a consistent message each and every time reinforces the safety habit.
  4. “Everyone should have their own seat belt,” says Amanda Giruzzi, a representative of Safe Kids Worldwide. “Children should also be reminded to never sit in the car unless there is a seat belt for them. If there are only three seat belts in the back seat then only three kids should sit back there.”
  5. “Even if they’re riding in someone else’s car, they need to buckle up,” says Huebner. If kids feel like they are in an unsafe vehicle, like being asked to ride in the bed of a pickup, or if the driver seems unfit to drive, “your child should never get into a vehicle if they feel unsafe.”

Here are more tips on kids and car safety.

More US Flooding – Irene and Lee


Thanks to Lee, 10-15 inches of rain are expected to fall from the central Gulf Coast to the Tennessee Valley according to CNN.

Lee is a Tropical Storm hitting New Orleans, Mississippi, Alabama and the Florida panhandle. Farther North, Vermont and surrounding states and recovering from the aftermath of Hurricane Irene.

Here is flood advice from Hurricane Katrina survivors we spoke with.

Road Trip: Money and Luggage

Here are a couple of nifty ideas from friends who have traveled on road trips:

Tag the Bag

Even though you’re not flying, here are a couple of labeling tips in your bags are somehow lost or stolen.

  1. Put on a luggage tag on the bag with your home address
  2. Put a label inside your bags (tape a card or a piece of paper to the inside) as a backup

Call for Credit

  1. Call credit card companies and let them know the dates you’ll be traveling and the cities you’ll be visiting. Why? Because if they see activity outside of your normal routine and they don’t know you’re traveling, they may put a security alert on your account, which means your credit card will be rejected.
  2. Reader Input: Letting the credit card company know travel dates was helpful for Mark, one of your fellow readers. His credit card company saw a charge AFTER he’d returned from Mexico and called to ask him about it.  Turns out they caught the fraud before he did!

Makin’ Copies

  1. Remember to make photocopies of all the credit cards (front and back) you’re taking with you.
  2. Give one copy to a friend or family member (who is not traveling with you…)
  3. Keep your copies in a different area from your wallet (i.e. luggage, locked glove compartment) in case you need to call and cancel your card.
  4. Bonus Tip: Write down the phone number you need to call your credit card company in case it’s lost or stolen.

– Susan

Leave Your House in 3 Minutes – What to Take?

If you were forced to evacuate your home and you only had 3 minutes, what would you grab?

The Grab-and-Go kit came about after readers sent us what they wished they’d had after they had to evacuate. Here are 10 things you should have ready to go at any moment.

  1. Cash (at least $100 – ATMs might not work in an emergency), credit cards, checks, IDs
  2. Cell phone and extra charger
  3. Clothing for each family member for a week (grab extra items for winter)
  4. Extra set of house and car keys
  5. Family heirlooms, jewelry, art, anything else that has sentimental value and is “irreplaceable”
  6. Home videos and photos, digital camera memory cards
  7. Important papers (i.e. birth certificates, insurance policies, marriage certificates, house deeds, passports, address book
  8. Medications and other special needs (enough for a week or two)


  1. Put these items in a backpack, duffle, plastic container, etc.
  2. Make sure it is sturdy and possibly water-proof in case of flooding or other water damage (i.e. water from fire hoses).
  3. Tell your family members about the location and importance of this kit and when to grab it!

Remember to update your kit or check on its  location at least once a month.