Light Snowfall May Pose Lurking Risks – What to Know Before You Go
Before the heavy snowfall begins, it’s easy to feel a sense of continued safety. This is often true even when the casual, light snow arrives. After all, it is seemingly innocuous, not blocking roadways and not causing a disruption in visibility. However, even light snow poses risks to vehicles, and to drivers. It can melt quickly and then refreeze, creating dangerous black ice, and total loss of traction.
Prepare yourself for every type of freezing precipitation with proper vehicle maintenance. Spend some time researching car insurance quotes online to make sure you have the coverage your state requires, and possibly, more than that to keep yourself and your family safe and protected while traveling in winter weather. As well, consider these tips.
With snow and ice ready to fall, your car is in need of some TLC. See to it that it can handle light to treacherous winter conditions.
- Test the battery.
- Check the windshield wipers, make sure they are free of damage and not ripped.
- Put on snow tires if you live in a very snowy clime. If all-season tires will do, check that there’s good tread.
- Check the tire pressure weekly – cold temperatures and potholes lead to underinflated tires, which in turn, don’t gain easy traction on snow or icy roads.
- Protect the paint job with a coat of wax.
- Be sure the gas tank is always at least half-full.
- Keep a winter emergency kit in your car. This should consist of a flashlight with extra batteries, ice scraper, kitty litter or sand (for traction), snacks, extra blankets, hats, gloves, jumper cables, shovel, and first aid kit.
Preparing Yourself & Your Loved Ones
Once your car is optimized for winter conditions, remember that you need to protect yourself and your loved ones as well!
- Dress in layers when venturing outside, whether for a walk or a car ride (you never know if you’ll break down or be stranded).
- Always wear a hat. Mom was right! You lose most of your body heat through your head, so conserve it by wearing a hat. You can always fix your hair when you get to where you need to be.
- Stay hydrated. Your body needs hydration in any kind of weather, and believe it or not, some winter climates can be as dry as a desert, so you’ll need to drink up and keep yourself well watered!
- Listen to your body. If you’re outside walking around, throwing snowballs or in the car traveling, listen to what your body is telling you about how it is processing the cold. If you’re shivering and your teeth are chattering, your body temperature has dropped too low. You’ll want to turn on more heat or go inside.
- Watch out for the children. Kids tend to acclimatize to the cold weather much better than their adult counterparts. They likely won’t be listening to their body so check them frequently for shivering, teeth chattering or their lips turning blue.
- Watch for frostbite. It only takes 30 minutes in sub-zero temperatures for skin to develop frostbite, and with just a small bit of wind, 15 minutes. Frequently wiggle your fingers and toes to be sure you can still feel them. If not, get inside.
Familiarize Yourself with Winter Driving Techniques
It’s easy to assume that after a few years of driving, you know exactly what you’re doing and are prepared for every circumstance. The truth is, while the experience is there, you could be reinforcing bad habits that you’ve developed throughout your years on the road.
- Drive slower in the winter time and allow at least 8 to 10 seconds of time between you and the car in front of you.
- Keep an eye on the pavement. If the roadway looks like it’s brand-new asphalt, like it’s wet or dark, it could be a patch of black ice. Black ice is most common on elevated roadways like bridges and overpasses. Do your best to coast over the ice without braking or accelerating.
- Avoid stopping on hills. Whether you’re going up or down a hill, if you brake, you’re likely to lose traction and also lose the ability to start back up again. If you’re going downhill and need to brake, do it slowly, and always leave a minimum of three to four car lengths between you and the car in front of you.
- Turn on your hazards in low visibility conditions. During times of heavy precipitation or fog, use your headlights, fog lights, and hazards to make yourself as visible to other drivers as possible.
Don’t take any type of precipitation for granted. Be prepared for any winter possibility by adapting yourself and your car to the most intense conditions.