It's freakin' cold outside. You've got to get the kids to school and leave around 7 a.m., way before the sun comes up. You get the 7-year-old strapped into the back seat, start the car and run in to get the younger one. Grab the lunches, lock the front door, head back outside and your car is gone. Stolen—with your son inside.
This happened this past week to a dad in Rose Park. Luckily, the cops found the abandoned car within the hour and the child inside was fast asleep. My guess is that this dad won't be warming up his car again anytime soon unless he's sitting behind the wheel the entire time.
Cold weather makes us do stupid things as our survival instincts kick in. We seek out warmth and safety when the snow flies and the temps drop. It's about us, and no one else, right? No, actually, we all should be thinking beyond our cold noses and be hyper-aware of our environment and the people around us.
It's against the law to leave snow or ice on your sidewalk 24 hours after a storm in Salt Lake City, and maybe in your town, too. The codes state that snow and ice must be cleared 42 inches wide on your sidewalk, which is about two snow-shovels wide. Ice has to be removed to the bare pavement, but when it's too frozen, you must attempt to treat it with ice melt of some kind, like sand or cat litter, until you can break it up.
What happens if you're a lawbreaker? Old farts like me might break a hip slipping on your walkway and sue the crap out of you to pay for my Jazzy scooter. Salt Lake City will certainly give you a warning ticket—but limited to one warning per season. If you continually break the law, you're then going to stack up fines from $50-$200. We all know one neighbor who is a putz about removing their snow. (You can anonymously call and report those lazy homeowners at 801-535-7225.) Then again, maybe that one homeowner is a handicapped person who slipped on a sidewalk down the street a few years ago and can't remove the snow and ice from in front of their home. How about grabbing another neighbor and tag-teaming this season to help the old and infirm by paying it forward and clearing the sidewalk?
Finally, don't idle your car. Studies indicate that the most pollution your car spits out on your drive to work may be just the two minutes you take to warm up your car. Former Salt Lake city Mayor Ralph Becker would have given you the stink eye if you idled anyway, because that pollution just adds to our inversions.