No matter where you are, as long as the snow comes to greet you from time to time, preparing for winter driving is a must. With the fast-approaching winter season and the number of activities that you can do in the snow, including your daily grind, what kind of preparation and measures should you take to get you ready for a great winter wonderland experience? And Do I really need to prepare for winter driving?
Preparing for Winter Driving
‘Tis the season to review your auto insurance program among other things! There are so many things that you should factor in when answering this question. As weather conditions are unpredictable and could change on a whim, a combination of fog, snow, rain, and hail preparedness comes second to none.
Preparing your Vehicle
Severe weather can cause accidents and the reiteration of being careful is there as well as preparing your car for these weather conditions and below zero temperatures. Here’s what you should do if you can’t avoid going out of the house.
Check your vehicle
Make sure your tires are properly inflated. Winter tires and chains make for good traction and grip to help prevent skidding on icy roads. The extra cost ensures your safety and that of other drivers.
Check your car fluids.
Make sure that your fluids are all filled properly – gas, oil, wiper, and antifreeze. It should be at least half-filled so that you can avoid gas line freeze-up.
Change to the appropriate tires for the season.
Winter tires are so in! Switch to winter tires or you can also try those chains they use to hug the entire wheel to prevent from skidding.
Main roads are better than your usual shortcut.
The reason being, that back roads may be unplowed and are usually smaller giving less room for a reaction when there is a setback like skidding on icy roads or a flat tire.
Prepping your Trunk with Essentials
Salt and sand in bags – keeping at least two bags, would come in handy along with your own ice scraper and shovel.
Other things that you should have in your trunk:
- Portable batteries and chargers
- Hazard triangles
- LED flashers
- Blankets and extra clothes for the season
- Snacks and drinking water
- First Aid Kit
- Jumping Cables
Preparing Yourself for Winter
Harsh weather conditions aren’t pretty in any season. There are serious concerns to consider and there is nothing worse than being sick. Taking care of yourself is a must even if the weather has not hit 40 degrees below zero. What should you do to prepare for this weather and for driving in it?
- Drink up, eat right and get plenty of vitamins – A healthy body gives you a sound mind which keeps you focused on the road. Stay hydrated and never go hungry. If you have maintenance medicines, keep that with you and always bring a bar of chocolate or two for those hunger pangs that you cannot ignore.
- Watch the news and weather forecasts – There is a lot that differentiates a good, responsible driver from someone who isn’t. Watching the news and keeping yourself updated with the road conditions prior to driving can keep you safe and those who are around you.
- Get out only when necessary and stay indoors if you can, especially if there is a storm. – If it is a party that you can avoid, now may be a good time to do so. If it is a doctor’s appointment that you can’t miss, go ahead and drive. Weigh the dangers before you start your engine.
- Use the buddy system – No, this is not just for kids but for adults too. Having someone with you to keep you company especially for longer distances would really help keep you alert. If you cannot avoid going on your own, inform people of your whereabouts in case of an emergency.
- Do not overexert yourself – Your body is working hard to pump blood to your heart and to keep your body warm during this weather. Putting additional stress on your body may lead to overexertion and heart attack.
- Always stay dry
- Be careful and always be mindful
- Store important numbers in your compartment and in your phone.
Having these numbers on hand and on paper inside your car comes in handy just in case your phone loses battery.
Important numbers you should store must include but is not limited to:
- Person to contact in case of emergency.
- Hospital or doctor’s number.
- Home number
- Office number
- Towing service
- Repair and Battery service
Other things that you should remember before, during, and after you drive:
Driving habits are what make the difference between a good driver and a bad one. Starting at home, here are some suggestions that ensure safe winter driving.
- Warm-up your vehicle in an open space or where there is proper air circulation and not in the garage.
- Seat belts should always be used and proper child seats as well if you have kids.
How to Drive in Winter Weather
Driving in these conditions needs a lot of focus, preparation, and discipline. If you are asked to be careful on a regular day, winter needs an extra amount of that. Icy roads make for a very slippery and unfriendly driving experience and sometimes, the addition of other elements such as fog reduces visibility making it even more challenging. So how exactly should you be driving in winter weather over snow and ice?
- Drive below the speed limit. There is no need to rush. Safety is always a priority.
- Avoid using cruise control. It is not advisable to do so on slippery surfaces.
- One way to avoid skidding is by accelerating and decelerating slowly.
- The distance of six. Six seconds should be your following distance to give you ample time to stop when you have to. Brake ahead of the intended stop and never slam on your brakes.
- Don’t stop if you don’t have to. The amount of energy exerted in moving from a full stop compared to simply slowing down makes a huge difference.
- When it comes to hills, speeding up while you are on the hill can just make your car spin. Gain momentum by speeding up from a flat road until you reach the hill and then that is the time that you can reduce your speed and as you move downhill, slow things down.
- Stay away from roads that are unsafe and unpassable. You can do this by updating yourself prior to leaving the house or a planned trip.
- Maintenance is key. Never put off for tomorrow what you can do today is so true when it comes to your vehicles. A routine check-up even if you are not traveling for longer distances is caring for you and others.
Things to Watch Out For
What should you do if you are stuck or stranded in the snow?
- It is advisable to stay in your car. This will serve as your temporary shelter and if you are to be located, you are so much easier to find and be identified through your vehicle. Do not attempt to go wandering in your surroundings especially if you are in the middle of nowhere, in an unfamiliar place, or are in the middle of a storm. Snow can pile up so fast in these circumstances that you may not be able to find your way back.
- Avoid overexertion. This is very important. No matter the situation or how dire it is, listen to what your body is saying and stop what you are doing once the tiredness kicks in.
- Be bright and be seen. In a sea of white, visibility is important for rescuers to find you. The normal trick is to tie a ribbon or any article of clothing you have to your vehicle antenna. If you can’t go out, roll down your window and place a cloth there. If you’re stuck in the snow during the night, keep your lights on to be seen. Dome lights are perfect as they use very little electricity.
- Check your exhaust pipe. Carbon monoxide poisoning is real and is deadly. This happens when exhaust pipes get clogged by snow or mud. The gas leaks while your vehicle is running.
- Keep yourself warm. Your pre-packed winter essentials would come in handy here but if you don’t have one, be creative. Keep yourself warm by using the rug, newspapers, or anything that you can find in your car that is lying around. One good thing to do here is to run it for 10 minutes every hour.
- Conserve your fuel until help arrives. Fighting the cold is not easy but running the engine and the heater continuously will leave you even colder if it runs out. Make sure to run it until the chill becomes bearable and then turn it off again.
If you’re involved in an accident, what could you possibly do?
Accidents increase during the winter season and you have to be alert. Easier said than done though but knowing what you should be doing if it happens to you or if you happen to see one is valuable in saving lives. When it comes to your insurance, processing your claims would also be smoother.
When you are involved in an accident
- Check if anyone is injured
You, your passenger, or if you have any of the people in the other vehicle. If somebody is injured here are the steps that you could take.
- Turn off your engine if it hasn’t stopped yet.
- Call authorities. If there are people nearby, ask them politely to get help.
- It is important to keep the people who are injured warm. Cover them with a blanket, if you don’t have any, find anything in the vehicle that could make them warmer like car seat covers.
- Let us avoid anything that might make the situation worse for everyone involved. Smoking, for example, can cause fire especially if the gas is already leaking.
- When it comes to accidents, it is best that you have a copy of the police report should your insurance require that from you, at least you already have it.
- Contact your insurance provider before having your vehicle in for repairs. Insurance companies normally prefer to assess the damage first.
- Note the important things and take lots of pictures. The proof is always important and the details matter. So gather as much of it as you can.
- When no one is hurt, document the accident as best you can. This is helpful when filing your claim. Most insurance companies already have an app that makes it easier for you to communicate with your provider.
- In cases where you’ve met an accident and the other vehicle is unattended or if you damaged an object in a property, do your best to locate the owner. If there is no one, it is best to call authorities before leaving a note and your number. Again, gather as many details as you can.
Winter-related illnesses and injuries
Winter comes and goes and while it is something that you cannot avoid, keeping healthy and being mindful can help you avoid the common illnesses and injuries that people get during the season.
Slipping and falling
The aftermath of you falling or slipping on ice-covered surfaces can range from a simple sprain to broken bones. So be mindful and wear the proper footwear for this season or for outdoor activity.
When the snow piles up, it is your responsibility to shovel it. Don’t overdo it though and rest when you have to. Understanding what your body needs is important to avoid injuries to your neck or back. Stretching exercises could help loosen your body up before the task.
Your body is already working very hard to keep you warm so do not stress it even more and take breaks in between your tasks. If you need to ask for help, do so.
This causes permanent damage and affects exposed areas of your body. Normally your hands, toes, nose, and ears. During unforgiving weather and as the temperature goes to dangerous levels below zero, make sure to cover up and layer up.
When your temperature goes lower than 95 degrees Fahrenheit, hypothermia occurs and the body is unable to regulate the temperature due to prolonged exposure to the cold. It can affect anyone so you have to watch out for the signs. This includes shivering, confusion, increase in breathing, and loss of dexterity. If you see someone with these symptoms, get help immediately and get the person out of the cold and warm them up.
Carbon Monoxide Poisoning
More common in the winter than in any other season due to the use of things like the fireplace and heaters, this odorless and colorless gas leaks and would kill you if you are exposed to it. Make sure that your home is properly ventilated, well-insulated and that your chimneys are always cleaned routinely. When it comes to your vehicle, do not warm up in enclosed spaces like your garage, and make sure that your exhaust pipe is not clogged.
Don’t Fear the Season but Prepare for It
Winter is wonderful and it could also be harsh. Knowing how to protect yourself during this season is important and while you cannot avoid going outside, it is best to say that driving in winter is challenging. You can equip yourself with the knowledge of becoming a better driver. Having insurance gives you peace of mind for when you are in an undesirable situation and being mindful and careful gives you the power to manage what happens to you. So don’t worry about winter. Drive if you have to, prepare and always be alert. If you have any questions, do not hesitate to contact us. We’re happy to help.