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The opinions expressed in this article are the writer’s own and do not reflect the views of Her Campus.
This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at Cal Poly chapter.

Whenever a glowing icon pops up on my car dash, I call my Dad. I love talking with my Dad and having him help me through the parts of life that are foreign to everyone but Fathers, however, I am an independent woman and like to know how to do things on my own. It’s time to acquire some “Dad Skills” for when you are in a bind and your Dad inconveniently has his cell phone on silent.

How To…

  1. Change a Tire

Everyone encounters a flat tire at one point in their life and it’s best to know how to fix it if you get stuck somewhere inconvenient, like a gas station in the middle of nowhere on your way  back from Christmas Eve at your grandparents’ (guilty). 

First, pull over to a safe location, like the side of the road or a parking lot; depending on where you are, you will want to turn on your hazards. Also, engage your  parking break and remove the hubcap or wheel cover if your tires have one. Next, loosen the lug nuts using a wrench, by turning each one counterclockwise–you do not want them to come all the way off yet. In most cars the jack is in the trunk of the car, sometimes under a cover or hatch. Place the jack on the metal frame of the vehicle next to the flat tire and raise the vehicle until the tire is about half a foot off the ground. Now it’s time to fully remove the tire: using the same technique as before, hold on tight as you remove the lug nuts–you do not want to lose those things! Next, pop the tire off and set it on its side. Most cars carry a spare tire either attached to the trunk like a Jeep or under a hatch in the trunk. Put your brand new, shiny, fully-functioning tire where the old one was and tighten the lug nuts on by hand again. You can put them on in a star pattern, but you do not want them to be fully secured. Now, lower the vehicle using the jack so that the vehicle is just touching the ground and begin to tighten all the lug nuts fully using a clockwise motion with the wrench; you can put your full weight into the bolts to make sure they are secured. Finally, lower the vehicle fully to the ground and remove the jack. Make sure to stow everything away properly and dispose of your flat tire. For extra safety, check the tire pressure on the new tire to make sure it meets the pressure range suggested for your car. Now, you are ready to hit the road…again! You can also check out this How-to Guide from Firestone or watch this video from Dad, how do I?

  1. Reset the Pilot Light

Every time I hear “pilot light” I immediately think of Crazy, Stupid Love and the scene where Julianne Moore’s character pretends she doesn’t know how to reset it, just to talk with Steve Carrell’s character.

 A pilot light is a small flame that ignites the gas coming out of the main burner in a water heater. If your pilot light goes out, you need to relight it, or else, you’ll be taking arctic showers. First, determine what kind of water heater you have: automatic, manual, or electric. Automatic will have a button by the large dial that says “Pilot”, whereas a manual will not. You do not need to worry about a pilot light if you have an electric water heater (lucky ducks). Now, turn the gas valve to “off” and wait for the gas to dissipate. Once the pipes are all cleared, after roughly  5 minutes, hold down the pilot button for about 30 seconds and then use a match to reset the light. You will do the exact same steps for a manual heater, but will not need a match: it’ll reset on its own after holding the button. Check out this article from Rooter Man Plumbing for more help. 

  1. Carve a Turkey

It’s almost Thanksgiving and that means it’s time for us women to reclaim the tradition of carving the turkey! To carve a turkey, first you must cook the turkey and then let it rest for about 15-30 minutes before pulling out your knives; not only does this help the turkey cool down, but itallows the juices to settle, bringing out the best taste possible. Get a large and SHARP knife! Place the bird on a cutting board with the cavity facing towards you (its head should be facing away). Start by removing the leg and thigh. It’s helpful to use your hands but have a towel nearby to keep them from becoming slippery with turkey juice. Now, cut off the wings and remove the breast. The breast is the white meat so slice that up for serving. After that, slice the dark meat by separating the thigh from the drumstick. Transfer everything to a platter and serve warm! I think it’s easiest to understand by watching a video or look at this more inclusive guide from The Food Network. You have just conquered Thanksgiving! Enjoy!

  1. Tie a Tie

I learned how to tie a tie purely to hold it over the incompetent middle school boys’ heads, but it also is a handy skill to have when in a fashion emergency, or if you want to achieve the ruffled academic look popularized by Serena Vanderwoodsen. The Half Windsor knot is the most popular and it’s best to watch a video or look at a picture guide to learn how. Ties.com has a great step-by-step guide (with a video!) to get you and the men in your life looking great. There are also many other knots that you can explore once you master the classic.

  1. Unclog a Toilet

Toilets are inevitably going to get clogged, so it’s best you learn how to undo the results of spicy taco night. First, make sure your toilet bowl has enough water to submerge the head of the plunger. Place the plunger over the hole of the bowl. While maintaining a seal, plunge up and down rapidly about a dozen times, making sure to keep the plunger under the water level and lifting roughly an inch. Flush the toilet to see if the clog cleared; if not, repeat and be patient! Don’t forget to clean your plunger, as well, before storing it away. Check out this article from The Home Depot for more tips on what to do if your toilet clogs!

  1. Balance Your Checkbook

I love girl-mathing my way through life, but it’s also important to keep track of your transactions, in case the bank makes a mistake or your personal information is stolen. This may seem like an ancient skill considering checks took a backseat to virtual banking, however, balancing a checkbook is less about keeping track of your checks and more about certifying any transactions are accounted and legitimate. 

To balance your checkbook, you first want to get a checkbook register; this can be found at Walmart, Amazon, Staples, or included with your checkbook. If you prefer digital, you can create a google doc or sheet with the same formatting. Now, look at the “current available balance” that can be found on your bank’s website and log it in the top spot on the register above where your transactions go. Time to log your transactions! This includes any that are pending but have not cleared yet such as credit, debit, and checks. Record them on your register with the date, a brief description, and the number in case of checks. Subtract the amount of each debit from your current available balance. Add the amount for each credit. Include any fees that you pay and interest that you earn into your balance. Continue to record transactions so that you have a continuous log of each one you make. Every couple of weeks, you can view your online bank account to compare it to your own record. If they are the same, then you have a balanced checkbook! For more information go to Forbes Advisor or look at this video from Liberty Bank! You are officially a finance bro!

  1. Start a Fire

Suppose you’re  at a beach bonfire or are camping and need to get the s’mores roasting–it’s time to pull out those handy-dandy arson skills! To build a campfire, you want to first find the perfect spot:someplace flat and free of debris. You can create a circle of rocks for the fire or dig a hole. Next, place several small sticks flat on the inside of the pit to create a platform that allows airflow beneath the tinder. Place the tinder (dry leaves, grass, newspaper, cotton balls, or pine needles) on top of the sticks. Use a match (or lighter) to light the tinder. Slowly add kindling, or small pieces of wood, to the tinder. Remember, you do not want to bury it and snuff it out. Continue to add larger pieces until you are satisfied with your flame. You have to keep your fire fed by adding larger logs in a teepee formation onto it; it’s best to use dry wood to avoid excessive smoke. Congrats, you have just built a fire! Good job resorting to your caveman roots! MasterClass has more tips on how to build a campfire or check out this video from REI.

  1. Bait a Hook

If you and the girls want to try something different for girls’ night, look no further than fishing! There are 4 different methods to bait a hook depending on what you are fishing and the kind of  bait you have. Above all, you need a fishing rod, line, hook, and some sort of bait whether it is a worm, shrimp, fishing lure, or artificial bait. For a worm, you can simply poke it through the hook to secure it to the end of the rod. For other larger and less penetrable baits, like insects or fish, you will have to attach it using string. A bridle is tied between the hook and the bait fish to keep it alive long enough to increase your chances of capturing the best fish. Check out this WikiHow page to figure out the best technique for you, depending on what you want to catchand your materials. You can also watch this video from MOconservation for more help. You are ready to hit that water and catch tonight’s dinner!

The main thing when learning a new skill is to remember you are learning! It is ok (and natural!) to make mistakes when attempting something you have never done before. If you want to learn how to fish or plunge a toilet, you should not feel discouraged because you did not have a Father to teach you. Girls should also not be intimidated to attempt things that are stigmatized by society as a “man’s job.” Remember ladies: you are strong, you are capable, and you got this!

Sam is a first-year Economics Major at Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo. She is currently involved in Her Campus as an editorial writer and a part of other Cal Poly clubs such as Investing and Waterski. Sam loves traveling, The Princess Diaries, strawberries, reading, and winning at card games. If she's not making a new Spotify playlist, you'll catch her working out or hanging out with friends!