As you’ve certainly heard by now, winter is back in full force starting tomorrow. This means high temperatures in the 30s and low temperatures running in the 20s or even the teens. Cold weather can have an effect on you, your home and your vehicle. Add snow to that, and things can get dangerous very quickly.
Today, we’ll focus on vehicle safety and prep for when the temperatures drop and the potential for snow goes up. Following these tips could save you or someone you’re riding with in an emergency situation.
– Top off vehicle fluids like antifreeze, fuel, and others. This will help with a few things, but the main reason is in case you get stranded. The more fuel you have in the tank, the more heat you will have.
– Check you tread! The old saying goes, “If you see Lincoln’s head, you need more tread.” This means that if you use a penny with Lincoln’s head facing down, you need to see the top of his head disappear into your tread. If you see his head, you should consider new tires. If your state allows snow tires or studs, these features will give added traction on snowy roads.
– Bagged salt can help give extra traction. Keep some in the trunk. If you ever find yourself slipping and stuck in icy or snowy conditions, salt can help you get more traction to get your vehicle moving again. For pick-up trucks, keeping bagged salt in the bed will help weight down the truck enough (if you don’t have four wheel drive). Salt can also help melt ice which will aid in gaining more traction.
– Have important numbers saved on paper in your glove compartment. Our cell phones are not always reliable. If your phone runs out of battery, you’ll need to have numbers memorized or written down if you need to make a call.
– Create a “cold weather kit.” This kit should interlude items such as water, a blanket, sleeping bags, gloves, non-perishable food items, a first aid kit, flash light, matches, a cell phone charger, and a shovel. All of these items can keep you warm and safe for extended periods stranded in the snow.
– Have a plan. Sit down with your family and with all drivers and come up with a winter weather plan. Doing this will help you and your loved ones stay prepared and informed during a winter weather event. You’ll have an idea of when and where everyone should be if conditions get bad.
During a winter event:
– Stay home! I know this is tongue-in-cheek, but not really. If you don’t need to be anywhere, don’t get on the road. Wrecks and incidents on the roads are a product of percentages. The lower number of vehicles on the road during a winter weather event, the lower the percentage of accidents. If you must drive, especially long distance, travel during the daylight (warmer) hours.
– Don’t travel by yourself. I know this isn’t always practical. Still, even if you are alone in the vehicle, that doesn’t mean you have to be completely alone. Notify someone where you are traveling and how long it should take you to get there. Give them an ETA so they know to notify authorities if they don’t hear from you.
– Main roads are your best bet. Main roads like interstates, state highways, main thoroughfares, and inner city streets are usually the first to be plowed. If they’re not plowed, they are typically driven enough to cause extra melting. Back roads, low-priority roads, turn lanes, shoulders, bridges and overpasses will be some of the first to collect snow, and more likely to keep snow.
– Clear snow from the tops of your vehicle along with your headlights, taillights, and windows. The benefits of this are two-fold. First, it helps other drivers see you in low-visibility conditions. And it keeps snow from blinding drivers behind you. If you get stranded, clearing the snow from your vehicle can help you be spotted better by authorities that are out looking for stranded vehicles.
These steps and tips can help you beat the winter conditions before they even hit. Practicing winter weather safety will keep you and your family safe!