You can avoid many dangerous weather problems by planning ahead. Plan long trips carefully, listening to the radio or television for the latest weather forecasts and road conditions. If bad weather is in the forecast, drive only if absolutely necessary.
Check or have a mechanic check the following items on your car:
- Keep your gas tank full – in case an evacuation is needed.
- Do not drive through a flooded area – Six inches of water can cause a vehicle to lose control and possibly stall. A foot of water will float many cars.
- Be aware of areas where floodwaters have receded – Roads may have weakened and could collapse under the weight of a car.
- If a power line falls on your car you are at risk of electrical shock, stay inside until a trained person removes the wire.
- 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.
If there is an explosion or other factor that makes it difficult to control the vehicle, pull over, stop the car and set the parking brake.
If the emergency could impact the physical stability of the roadway, avoid overpasses, bridges, power lines, signs and other hazards.
Make an Emergency Kit for Your Car
In case you are stranded, keep a kit of emergency supplies in your car including:
- Jumper cables: might want to include flares or reflective triangle
- Flashlights: with extra batteries
- First Aid Kit: remember any necessary medications, baby formula and diapers if you have a small child
- Food: non-perishable food such as canned food, and protein rich foods like nuts and energy bars
- Manual can opener
- Water: at least 1 gallon of water per person a day for at least 3 days
- Basic toolkit: pliers, wrench, screwdriver
- Pet supplies: food and water
- Radio: battery or hand cranked
- Cat litter or sand: for better tire traction
- Ice scraper
- Clothes: warm clothes, gloves, hat, sturdy boots, jacket and an extra change of clothes for the cold
- Blankets or sleeping bags
- Charged Cell Phone: and car charger
Winter Driving Tips
- Don’t drive distracted!
- Avoid driving while you’re fatigued. Getting the proper amount of rest before taking on winter weather tasks reduces driving risks.
- Never warm up a vehicle in an enclosed area, such as a garage.
- Make certain your tires are properly inflated.
- Never mix radial tires with other tire types.
- If possible, avoid using your parking brake in cold, rainy and snowy weather.
- Do not use cruise control when driving on any slippery surface (wet, ice, sand).
- Always look and steer where you want to go.
- Use your seat belt every time you get into your vehicle
- Accelerate and decelerate slowly. Applying the gas slowly to accelerate is the best method for regaining traction and avoiding skids. Don’t try to get moving in a hurry. And take time to slow down for a stoplight. Remember: It takes longer to slow down on icy roads.
- Drive slowly. Everything takes longer on snow-covered roads. Accelerating, stopping, turning – nothing happens as quickly as on dry pavement. Give yourself time to maneuver by driving slowly.
- The normal dry pavement following distance of three to four seconds should be increased to eight to ten seconds. This increased margin of safety will provide the longer distance needed if you have to stop.
- Know your brakes. Whether you have antilock brakes or not, the best way to stop is threshold breaking. Keep the heel of your foot on the floor and use the ball of your foot to apply firm, steady pressure on the brake pedal.
- Don’t stop if you can avoid it. There’s a big difference in the amount of inertia it takes to start moving from a full stop versus how much it takes to get moving while still rolling. If you can slow down enough to keep rolling until a traffic light changes, do it.
- Don’t power up hills. Applying extra gas on snow-covered roads just starts your wheels spinning. Try to get a little inertia going before you reach the hill and let that inertia carry you to the top. As you reach the crest of the hill, reduce your speed and proceed down hill as slowly as possible.
- Don’t stop going up a hill. There’s nothing worse than trying to get moving up a hill on an icy road. Get some inertia going on a flat roadway before you take on the hill.
- Stay home. If you really don’t have to go out, don’t. Even if you can drive well in the snow, not everyone else can. Don’t tempt fate: If you don’t have somewhere you have to be, watch the snow from indoors.
Tips for long-distance winter trips
- Watch weather reports prior to a long-distance drive or before driving in isolated areas. Delay trips when especially bad weather is expected. If you must leave, let others know your route, destination, and estimated time of arrival.
- Always make sure your vehicle is in peak operating condition.
- Keep at least half a tank of gasoline in your vehicle at all times.
- If you become snow-bound, stay with your vehicle. It provides temporary shelter and makes it easier for rescuers to locate you. Don’t try to walk in a severe storm. It’s easy to lose sight of your vehicle in blowing snow and become lost.
- Don’t over exert yourself if you try to push or dig your vehicle out of the snow.
- Tie a brightly colored cloth to the antenna or place a cloth at the top of a rolled up window to signal distress. At night, keep the dome light on if possible. It only uses a small amount of electricity and will make it easier for rescuers to find you.
- Make sure the exhaust pipe isn’t clogged with snow, ice or mud. A blocked exhaust could cause deadly carbon monoxide gas to leak into the passenger compartment with the engine running.
- Use whatever is available to insulate your body from the cold. This could include floor mats, newspapers, or paper maps.
- If possible, run the engine and heater just long enough to remove the chill and to conserve gasoline.
Studded Vs Studless winter tires
Driving in winter can be downright scary. Is your vehicle capable of handling ice, slush, and snow? The best way to be prepared for unpredictable winter roads is to install winter tires (also known as snow tires) on your vehicle.
If you’re in the market for winter tires, you have a lot of options to choose from. But how can you know which kind will suit your needs best? Start with the basics.
There are two main types of winter tires, studded and studless. Studded tires were the must-have snow tires for a long time, but advances in rubber compounds and other winter tire technologies have changed the minds of many drivers.
Studded snow tires literally have metal studs embedded within the tread. These small, strong pieces of metal are designed to dig into ice, which provides added traction. When the driving surface isn’t covered in ice, studded tires can damage the road. They’re tough enough to dig into pavement, which is why many states limit their use during non-winter months and some states have outlawed them completely. Studded winter tires are also known to produce a noisy ride.
Although studded tires are capable of handling icy driving situations, improvements in the rubber compounds of modern studless winter tires have made them more capable of handling some of winter’s most extreme driving situations.
In recent years, studless snow tires have become the preferred snow tire for many winter drivers. Instead of relying on metal protrusions in the tread, modern non-studded winter tires lean on advances in rubber compounding, tread designs, and other unique technologies.
In winter’s cold temperatures, a non-winter tire’s tread rubber becomes stiffer and less able to conform to even a dry road’s irregularities. Modern studless snow tires are capable of maintaining flexibility in freezing temperatures, thanks to advances in rubber compounding technologies. This increased rubber flexibility allows tires to maintain traction on snowy, icy, wet and dry driving surfaces.
Studless winter tires generally have deeper tread depths than summer or all-season tires. Deep tread depths allow the tire to manage snow and slush dispersion from under the tire. It also allows the tire to provide better or snow-on-snow traction by packing it within the tread blocks.
Another feature you’ll notice are thousands of tiny slits in the tread pattern, called sipes. These act as thousands of biting edges on ice that help with acceleration, deceleration, and stopping.
The choice between studded vs. studless snow tires ultimately depends on your preference, although breakthroughs in winter tire technology have nearly eliminated the need for studs.
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