Winter Car Safety

If you live in an area where you get snow, then you probably know how important it is to have your car ready for winter weather. Our cars are often our life-lines and being mobile is often a necessity.

If you haven’t already done so, winterize your car by checking all the fluids, belts, tires and hoses. Be sure your headlights have a chance by making sure any plastic covers in front of them are clean and haven’t been hazed over by scratches and road pitting. The same goes for the fog lights and having operational tail lights so you are visible in snow conditions. During this time of year, it pays to keep your tank full so don’t let it go below half before refilling.

Be sure and have an emergency kit you can get to (consider putting it in the passenger compartment it case the trunk gets frozen shut.) The kit should contain:

  • a shovel
  • windshield scraper and small broom
  • flashlight with extra batteries (LED’s are best)
  • battery powered radio
  • water
  • snack food including energy bars
  • raisins and mini candy bars
  • matches and small candles
  • extra hats, socks and mittens
  • First aid kit with pocket knife
  • Necessary medications
  • blankets or sleeping bag
  • tow chain or rope
  • road salt, sand, or cat litter for traction
  • booster cables
  • emergency flares and reflectors
  • fluorescent distress flag and whistle to attract attention
  • Cell phone adapter to plug into lighter

These may sound excessive, but in the one in a million chance you need a particular item, you’ll be glad you have it. Besides, most of the items are good for years so they are largely one-time investments.

Remember that if you get stuck that shoveling snow or pushing your car takes a lot of effort in storm conditions. Don’t risk a heart attack or injury. That work can also make you hot and sweaty. Wet clothing loses insulation value, making you susceptible to hypothermia.

It’s better to be cold and awake than comfortably warm and sleepy if you are stuck in your car. Snow can plug your vehicle’s exhaust system and cause deadly carbon monoxide gas to enter your car. Only run the engine for 10 minutes an hour and make sure the exhaust pipe is free of snow. Keeping a window open a crack while running the engine is also a good idea.

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