How to Drive in Austin’s Crazy Storms

April 19th, 2015, Posted By Austin Housemates

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Never expect predictability when it comes to weather here in Austin. Last night’s thunderstorm was just a typical spring evening. The hail and rain knocked out trees, power lines, and caused a few interruptions to Reggae Fest. Were you out and about in the storm yesterday? Did you have the unfortunate luck of driving in your car when it hit? We all know the proper safety procedures when it comes to lightening and hailstorms – take cover, avoid tress and metal lampposts, stay dry, but what happens when you’re trying to drive yourself home and the hail is pounding your windshield? You can always pull over and wait for the worst of it to pass, but there isn’t always time for that. Austin is poppin’ and you will have places to be and be seen regardless of the crazy weather. These tips for driving in the rain – even in these crazy Texas storms – will keep you and your passengers safe and guarantee that you’ll arrive to the show, even if you are a few minutes late.

1. Take Your Time
When they’re wet, it’s going to take longer for your tires and your brakes to adjust to the weather. In order to avoid rear end collisions and hydroplaning, slow it down and take your time.

2. Stay in the Middle Lane
When possible, move into the middle lane or at least the lane farthest from the sidewalk. Water will pool and puddle in the outside lanes, closest to curbs and sewer drains. Standing water like this increases the risk of hydroplaning and flooding your car, depending on the depth, so your best bet is to avoid it completely if you can.

3. Maintain Proper Following Distance
This is a Driver’s Ed basic, but in the rain you run the risk of ruining your visibility if you follow too closely, especially behind Texas’ infamous big trucks. They’re going to kick up a lot of water and rain into your windshield, which is only more dangerous for you. Slow it down until your 3-5 seconds behind the car or truck in front of you.

4. Avoid Using Your Brakes
It may seem counter-intuitive, but slamming on your brakes in the rain is only going to lead to spin outs and hydroplaning. Keeping a safe following distance will decrease your need for braking, and if you do have to slow down, simply take your foot off the gas and let your car coast to a safer speed.

5. Basic Vehicular Maintenance
Stay on top of your tires and your windshield wipers. This means regular maintenance checks, oil changes, and tire rotations, either done by yourself or a mechanic. This regular maintenance will keep your vehicle in shape and prepared for whatever crazy weather phenomenon Texas decides to throw our way this spring.

Of course, if you can avoid driving in a storm like last night’s, there’s no reason for you to be out in it. But we can’t always be in the safest, driest, or even most logical place in this city, especially on a Saturday night, so follow these tips to keep yourself safe when driving in the rain.

(Thanks, Yue Zhang, for the great photo!)

How to Stay Cool in the Hot Austin Summer Heat

September 18th, 2013, Posted By Austin Housemates

Barton Springs

 

Austin summers bring bright sunny skies, gorgeous sunsets, and endless amounts of fun opportunities around the city to be outdoors. There’s no better place in Texas than Austin to have a true summer experience boating, swimming, or taking a hike along one of the many greenbelt trails. However, along with that comes the blazing hot summer temperatures that Texas can be famous for.

But don’t fret – you don’t have to suffer through the hot Austin weather this summer. Here are some quick and easy tips to share with your Austin Roommates to beat the heat and stay cool while inside and out:

– Turn off your computers, televisions, and monitors at night or whenever they are not in use. Electronics, especially computers produce a lot of heat when on.

– Leave the door to your room open as much as possible. This increases the airflow through the entire house and will keep your room significantly cooler.

– Turn your fan on and make sure it is rotating counter clockwise. It should be moving air downward. This will produce a wind chill effect and make you feel much cooler, making sleeping much more bearable.

– Don’t shut air vents anywhere in the house. Don’t block the air intake vents. Both of these will reduce the airflow and cause the whole house to be warmer than it should be.

– Spend some time outside in the sun enjoying the great weather. Your body will adjust to the warmer climate and you’ll generally feel cooler when inside in the A/C.

– Drink plenty of water – even if you’re not thirsty. You can sweat a lot during the summer months. Evaporation of the sweat cools the skin, which in turn helps to cool the whole body. But excessive sweating can lead to dehydration, which can lead to serious heat-induced illnesses. So, hydrate – with water, to replenish your fluids and keep your body temperature down.

– Wear light colored cotton. Darker colors just absorb and trap the heat in, making us hotter than we really are.

– Exercise at the coolest times of the day. Generally, early morning and around/after sunset are the best times to keep cool while outside. The sun is at its peak midday, so it’s best to stay away from midday workouts in order to prevent overheating.

– Eat smaller meals more often. Graze. The larger the meal, the more your body has to work to digest it, thereby raising your body temperature.

– Keep your blinds and curtains closed especially during the day. You’ll keep the temperature of the room down if the heat from the sun isn’t blazing into your room.

– Eat fruits and vegetables high in water: watermelon, cantaloupe, cucumber, celery, and broccoli to name a few. You’ll stay hydrated, and the fiber will fill you up without leaving a tired, groggy feeling – which can often be amplified by hot weather.

– Take advantage of one of Austin’s many pools or natural springs with your roommates and take a dip. Barton Springs Pool, Hamilton Pool, Lake Travis, your community pool, or even at a local gym. The options are endless around the city.

 

Use these tips to stay cool and you’ll be spending the summer soaking up great memories around the city with some of your Austin Roommates, instead of focusing on the blazing hot temperatures!