It's that time of year again, when temperatures drop and ice and snow become the norm. Here are some of the most common winter driving hazards and cautions with tips on how to avoid or prepare for them.
Before winter is in full swing, it's important to take steps to insure that your vehicle is properly prepared. This includes checking your battery, windshield wipers, tires, coolant, windshield wiper fluid, spare tire, heater, defroster, any element that you were experiencing problems with and checking for any leaks. If your vehicle is in need of a tuneup or oil change, get these things done before winter hits. If you live in a region that gets alot of rain or snow, then consider getting special tires for these conditions. Also keep a set of tire chains with you at all times.
Should you get stuck somewhere due to being stuck in snow or some roads that you need to travel on are closed, you should have some essential emergency supplies with you. These include blankets, several day supply of food, several gallons of water, rope, flashlight, first aid kit, extra clothing, shovel, cat litter for traction if tires are stuck, scraper, jumper cables and a wheel wrench and wheel jack.
One excellent tip for keeping warm if stuck in your vehicle for a long period of time is to carry a candle and some matches or a lighter. Lighting a candle in the middle of your car can keep your entire vehicle warm while it is lit. So have some long lasting candles in your car and you won't be cold if you get stuck.
Black ice is one of the worst hazards you can come upon when driving. You usually can't tell you are on it until you start sliding. Worse yet, if you hit your brakes, it can cause you to slide even more or even overturn. The best defense for black ice is simply to go slow in areas where you know the ground is frozen and it's been raining or snowing. In addition, you can use caution when applying your brakes if you start to slide. Pump your brakes slowly if you find yourself starting to slide. Also, if you start sliding in one area, it's likely there are more areas of the road ahead that have ice on them, so stay alert and keep driving slow and cautiously.
The best protection from unexpected weather is to keep your radio on and stay tuned to a news and weather station. They will let you know of any hazards, whether to watch out for ice, snow, rain or fog and whether any roads are closed or require chains. You'll also want to keep a weather band or emergency radio in your trunk at all times with fresh batteries and extra batteries.
The right technology can save your life. Consider getting a GPS for your vehicle, or a portable GPS. A GPS can stop you from getting lost and if you get stuck somewhere unfamiliar, it will show you how to get out and find help. A cell phone is something just about everyone has in their vehicle anyway. But consider keeping either a hand crank battery generator or a battery powered cell phone generator in your vehicle. Some flashlights and emergency radios come with a hand crank on the side, which you can hook up to your cell phone and give yourself virtually unlimited cell phone power, which can be a lifesaver in itself.