When traveling during the winter, be prepared for the unexpected. Being stranded during a winter storm can be a matter of life or death. No matter the temperature, weather affects driving conditions and can pose serious problems. Follow these recommendations for safer winter travels.
Carry the necessary equipment:
- Jumper cables
- Tow and tire chains
- Properly inflated spare tire, wheel wrench and a tripod-type jack.
- Bag of salt, cat litter or sand
- Tool kit
- Ice scraper and snow brush
- Working flashlight and extra batteries
If travel must happen during a storm, plan ahead:
- Select both primary and alternate routes.
- Travelers should inform others of their travel routes. If they do not arrive on time, officials know where to begin searching.
- Check the latest weather information.
- Travel with another person if possible.
- Drive defensively
- Watch for ice patches on bridges and overpasses.
- Take note of the odometer and coordinate it with exit numbers, mileposts or crossroads. This will help travelers determine their location if rescuers need to be summoned.
- If a storm becomes too much to handle, seek refuge immediately.
- Travelers should not leave their vehicle unless they know their location for certain, how far it is to possible help and that the situation will be improved by doing so.
- To attract attention, light two flares and place one at each end of the vehicle at a safe distance. Hang a brightly colored cloth from the antenna.
- If the car’s exhaust pipe is not blocked, run the engine and heater for about 10 minutes every hour, depending on the amount of gas left.
- To protect against frostbite and hypothermia, use woolen items and blankets to keep warm.
- Keep at least one window open slightly. Heavy snow and ice can seal a car shut.
Published February 15, 2019.