Driving in the winter means snow, sleet, and ice that can lead to slower traffic, hazardous road conditions, hot tempers and unforeseen dangers. Following the winter and car safety preparedness tips below will help you survive winter safely.
At any temperature, 20 degrees below zero or 90 degrees above, weather affects road and driving conditions and can pose serious problems. It is important to listen to forecasts on radio, TV, cable weather and local forecasts wherever you may travel.
Prepare your car for winter yourself or have the service station help you:
- Check the ignition, brakes, wiring, hoses and fan belts
- Change and adjust the spark plugs
- Checking the air, fuel and emission filters, and the PCV valve
- Inspect the distributor
- Check the battery
- Check the tires for air, sidewall wear and tread depth
- Check all fluids, antifreeze level and the freeze line
- Fill up the tank
Keep these items handy in your vehicle; plastic tubs work great for storage:
- A properly inflated spare tire, wheel wrench and tripod-type jack
- A folding shovel
- Air compressor or fix-a-flat
- Heavy gloves
- Basic tool wrap
- Jumper cables
- Tow and tire chains
- A bag of salt or cat litter
Keep these essential items in your vehicle; plastic tubs work great for storage:
- Working flashlight and extra batteries
- Reflective triangles, flares and brightly-colored cloth
- First aid kit with a variety of bandages
- Exterior windshield cleaner
- Ice scraper and snow brush
- Small candles
- Wooden stick matches in a waterproof container
- Scissors and string/cord
- Non-perishable, high energy foods like unsalted canned nuts, dried fruits, and hard candy
When driving long distances in winter conditions carry supplies to keep you warm such as heavy woolen mittens, socks, a cap, and blankets.IF STRANDED
- Do not leave your car unless you know exactly where you are, how far it is to possible help, and are certain you will improve your situation
- To attract attention, light two flares and place one at each end of the car a safe distance away. Hang a brightly colored cloth from your antenna
- If you are sure the car's exhaust pipe is not blocked, run the engine and heater for about 10 minutes every hour or so depending upon the amount of gas in the tank
- To protect yourself from frostbite and hypothermia use the woolen items and blankets to keep warm
- Keep at least one window open slightly, heavy snow and ice can seal a car shut
- Eat a hard candy to keep your mouth moist
- Antifreeze levels - ensure they are sufficient to avoid freezing.
- Battery and ignition system - should be in top condition and battery terminals should be clean.
- Brakes - check for wear and fluid levels.
- Exhaust system - check for leaks and crimped pipes and repair or replace as necessary. Carbon monoxide is deadly and usually gives no warning.
- Fuel and air filters - replace and keep water out of the system by using additives and maintaining a full tank of gas. A full tank will keep the fuel line from freezing.
- Heater and defroster - ensure they work properly.
- Lights and flashing hazard lights - check for serviceability.
- Oil - check for level and weight. Heavier oils congeal more at low temperatures and do not lubricate as well.
- Thermostat - ensure it works properly.
- Windshield wiper equipment - repair any problems and maintain proper washer fluid level.
- Install good winter tires - Make sure the tires have adequate tread. All-weather radials are usually adequate for most winter conditions. However, some jurisdictions require that to drive on their roads, vehicles must be equipped with chains or snow tires with studs.
It is a very good idea to make sure you have an emergency kit in all your family vehicles. Emergency kits should be checked regularly to ensure that none of the items need replaced or refreshed. Great emergency kits always include: shovel, windshield scrapper, flashlight, batteries, battery or hand powered radio, water pouches, food bars, waterproof matches, extra hats, gloves, scarfs, emergency blankets, a good first aid kit, jumper cables and emergency flares.
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