In light of the recent news story regarding the late James Kim’s fatal stranding in the snow, and his herculean efforts to save his family, I thought now might be a good time to discuss some winter driving tips.
Prepare Your Vehicle
Ensure that your car or truck is fully prepared for driving in icy, windy, snowy conditions. A seasonal checklist is a handy thing to keep around. You should check things like wipers, tire tread, tire pressure, brakes, and anything mechanical under the hood. If there’s a nagging problem you’ve had for a while, now is a good time to get it fixed so it doesn’t get you stranded somewhere.
Plan Your Trip
Around the block or around the state, make sure you know your route and have a map with you to help if you need an alternate route due to road closures or heavy traffic conditions. Check the 511 phone line, if your state has one, to determine ahead of time if a road is closed. Let your family and friends know where you’re going and how you plan to get there. This can help in case you do become stranded.
Modify Your Driving if Conditions Change
You should do this all year round. If you’re out on a sunny day and it starts raining, slow down. If it turns icy, increase the distance between you and the car ahead. Also, ask yourself the question, "Do I really need to be driving right now?"
Be Ready for Emergencies
Know where you are at all times in the car. If you become stranded, this can be key to survival. Don’t leave your vehicle except under extreme conditions unless you know exactly where you are and how far away possible help might be. If you leave your car, put a note inside to let searchers know when you left and what direction you went.
It’s possible that you can help yourself out of whatever jam you’re in. But, you have to be prepared. Here is a list of items you might want to consider taking with you:
- A properly inflated spare tire, wheel wrench and jack
- A shovel
- Jumper cables
- A bag of salt (to melt ice) or cat litter (to provide traction in snow)
- Tool kit and fresh First Aid supplies
- Working flashlight and extra batteries
- Reflective triangles and brightly-colored cloth
- Exterior windshield cleaner
- Ice scraper and snow brush
- Wooden stick matches in a waterproof container
- Non-perishable, high-energy foods like unsalted canned nuts, dried fruits, and hard candy.
- Heavy woolen mittens, socks, cap, blankets
4 Wheel Drive
4 wheel drive does not mean 4 wheel stop. Nothing in the 4×4 car or truck will help you stop faster than any other car on ice or snow. It may help you to keep control of your vehicle, but it does not make you invincible!
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