Winter Driving Tips To Keep You Alive

Jan 23 09:42 2008 Marie Wakefield Print This Article

Planning ahead for winter driving could insure that you make it to your destination safely.

 Winter driving can be stressful not to mention very hazardous. Wind,Guest Posting snow, ice and blizzard conditions amplify the normal dangers of driving.  And with less hours of daylight, these problems are magnified. However, you can offset those aggravations and minimize the special risks of winter driving by following a few simple steps and taking certain precautions before and during driving. According to the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), the leading cause of death during winter storms are transportation accidents. Preparations for the winter season and knowing how to react if stranded or lost on the road are the keys to safe winter traveling. Before winter starts or you leave for a trip in the winter, have the following items checked on your car:        Battery        Antifreeze        Wipers and windshield washer fluid        Ignition system        Thermostat        Lights        Flashing hazard lights        Exhaust system        Heater        Brakes        Defroster        Oil level (if necessary, replace existing oil with a winter grade oil) Don't forget to check the 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.   Keep at least a half tank of gas in the car during the winter season.Be prepared - put together a bad weather kit to keep in the trunk of back of your car. This will ensure that you are prepared in the event that you get stuck in a storm.  Keep these items in your kit:    Flashlights with extra batteries    First aid kit with pocket knife     Necessary medications     Several blankets or Sleeping bags     Plastic bags (for sanitation)     Matches/candles    Extra set of gloves or mittens,socks, and a wool cap     Rain gear and extra clothes     Small sack of sand or kitty litter for generating traction under  wheels     Small shovel     Small tools (pliers, wrench, screwdriver)     Jumper cables     Set of tire chains or traction mats     Books, cards, games     Brightly colored cloth to use as a flag    Help sign for back window     Canned fruit and nuts     Nonelectric can opener     Bottled water    Charged cell phone (always carry this, especially in the  winter)If you are stranded, you may feel helpless, stuck in the snow in a lonely place, but there are things you can do to survive until help reaches you.    Stay in the car.   Do not leave the car to search for assistance unless help is visible within 100 yards.  You may become disoriented and lost in blowing and drifting snow.   Display the help sign.     Hang the brightly colored cloth on the radio antenna and raise the hood.    Occasionally run engine to keep warm.    Turn on the car's engine for about 10 minutes each hour. Run the heater when the car is running. Also, turn on the car's dome light when the car is running.    Beware of carbon monoxide poisoning. Keep the exhaust pipe clear of snow, and open a downwind window slightly for ventilation.    Watch for signs of frostbite and hypothermia.    Do minor exercises to keep up circulation.    Try not to stay in one position for too long. If more than one person is in the car, take turns sleeping.    For warmth, huddle together.    Use newspapers, maps, and even the removable car mats for added insulation.    Cold weather puts an added strain on the heart.  Avoid overexertion.   Be aware of symptoms of dehydration.Listen to the Weather Report before heading out. It can be a life saver.Pay attention to the weather terms used. Here are the most common Winter Weather Terms-   Winter Storm Warning: Issued when hazardous winter weather in the form of heavy snow, heavy freezing rain, or heavy sleet is imminent or occurring. Winter Storm Warnings are usually issued 12 to 24 hours before the event is expected to begin.   Winter Storm Watch: Alerts the public to the possibility of a blizzard, heavy snow, heavy freezing rain, or heavy sleet. Winter Storm Watches are usually issued 12 to 48 hours before the beginning of a Winter Storm.    Winter Storm Outlook: Issued prior to a Winter Storm Watch. The Outlook is given when forecasters believe winter storm conditions are possible and are usually issued 3 to 5 days in advance of a winter storm.  Blizzard Warning: Issued for sustained or gusty winds of 35 mph or more, and falling or blowing snow creating visibilities at or below ¼ mile; these conditions should persist for at least three hours.    Lake Effect Snow Warning: Issued when heavy lake effect snow is imminent or occurring.  Wind Chill Warning: Issued when wind chill temperatures are expected to be hazardous to life within several minutes of exposure.  Wind Chill Advisory: Issued when wind chill temperatures are expected to be a significant inconvenience to life with prolonged exposure,  and,  if caution is not exercised, could lead to hazardous exposure.  Winter Weather Advisories: Issued for accumulations of snow, freezing rain, freezing drizzle, and sleet which will cause significant inconveniences and, if caution is not exercised, could lead to life-threatening situations.Winter driving requires you to be extra careful and alert, but the most important tip for winter driving is slow down!  Always give yourself plenty of time to get where you are going, and get off the road before you get stranded by worsening weather conditions. RECOMMENDED RESOURCES:The Weather Channel Virginia Department of Transportation Oregon Department of Transportation

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Marie Wakefield
Marie Wakefield

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