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5 Tips For Driving In Winter Conditions

The winter season brings several weather threats, depending on your location. Flooding, snow, and cold nighttime temperatures can leave unprepared drivers stranded – or worse. As the cold weather arrives, keep these five tips handy. Prepare now to avoid getting caught off guard on the road.

  1. Winterize all vehicles. If you live in an area that experiences freezing temperatures or plan to drive through an area that does, consider the following:
    • Check tire pressure and battery charge before heading out on longer or rural trips.
    • Use winter-weather rated tires and snow chains, if necessary.
    • Keep a windshield scraper in the vehicle for ice and snow. In a pinch, a credit card or another firm piece of plastic will work.
    • Refill the gas tank when it hits around a half tank throughout the season.
    • Schedule driving times for daylight hours, and let someone know about your plans.
    • Check the road conditions before you head out.
  2. Build an emergency kit. In winter, a basic emergency kit could save your life. Keep jumper cables, food and water, blankets, first aid, a flashlight, matches, a set of warm clothes for every traveler, a small set of tools (including a shovel, wrench, screwdriver, etc.), and plastic bags in the vehicle at all times. Freezing temperatures cause frostbite and hypothermia. An emergency kit should include enough supplies to last several days and help you make simple repairs or signal for help.
  3. Prepare an emergency plan. If you know what to do in the event of an emergency, you can help yourself and others. Always tell someone when you plan to leave and when you plan to arrive. Use these tips for extending your supplies, staying safe, and staying warm until help arrives:
    • Do not leave your vehicle to find help unless you can see a building or a person at a close distance.
    • Try to make your vehicle as conspicuous as possible. Hang a brightly colored piece of material from the antenna.
    • Do not constantly run your vehicle. Turn your vehicle on for 10 minutes every hour to keep the engine warm and avoid the threat of carbon monoxide. When you turn the vehicle on, remove debris from the tailpipe and keep a window cracked for ventilation.
    • Move around. Stretching and performing small exercises will keep your blood flowing and temporarily increase your body temperature.
  4. Practice safe driving. To avoid accidents or becoming stranded, practice safe driving habits on a daily basis. Allow for extra time during winter weather events and accelerate cautiously on potentially slippery surfaces. Driving more slowly during the winter season and leaving more space between you and other vehicles will improve your reaction time. If you’re driving in an unfamiliar area, make a mental note of memorable landmarks. You may need the information to tell emergency services where to find you in the event of an incident.
  5. Keep your phone charged. A cellphone gives you a lifeline when no one else is around. Invest in a vehicle charger for your phone. Keep your phone charged during the winter season. In the event of an emergency, “no service” areas may still allow you to reach 911. If you cannot place a call, try to text someone. Text messages may go through when calls do not. Keep your GPS settings turned on, and recharge the battery every time you crank up the car. Avoid playing on your phone and turn off features, such as running applications and Bluetooth connections, to save the battery.

During high-risk driving times, always expect the best but prepare for the worst. In the event of an emergency, knowing you’re prepared will help you remain calm and deal with the situation at hand.

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