After receiving some feedback on my prior blog post, I thought it a good idea to give focus on preparing your car for bad weather, or being stranded on the road.
In the last few years, the mid-west has seen a return of some nasty winter weather. Maybe it’s been too long since the drivers in our area have had to deal with ice and snow. Or maybe they are now more distracted. Whatever the reason, in the last few years we’ve seen some terrible accidents and hours-long highway closures; some even overnight. Here are some steps you can take today to prepare for such an event as we head into the worst of winter.
The car itself:
• Keep the fuel tank full. An engine can run for hours at idle and the extra weight also helps with traction.
• Check your oil. I’ve known many people who have ruined their engines by running them dry of oil. If you’ve got a leaky engine, keep oil in your car in case you are stranded and must keep the engine running to stay warm.
• Check your tire tread. I’ve seen way too many people stuck in the snow only because their tires were too worn to move snow. I get it. New tires aren’t cheap. But knowing their condition will help when deciding to go out or not.
• While you’re there, check your tire pressure. Improperly inflated tires lessen their effectiveness in the snow (and decrease the lifespan of the tire).
• Have your battery checked. Winter is hard on car batteries and lessens their cranking power. A weakened battery may fail to start your car when it’s cold. Some auto parts stores will check your battery for free; while it’s still in the car.
• Get the antifreeze checked. Having low, or improperly mixed, antifreeze can ruin your car’s engine. Make sure it has a full amount of properly mixed antifreeze.
• Tire chains if you live in an area with frequent, deep snows
In the car:
• It’s always a good practice to let others know your route and schedule.
• Keep your cell phone fully charged.
• Cell phone chargers and backup power supplies
• Rechargeable flashlights and/or battery operated lighting with replacement batteries
• Solar and/or hand-crank recharging devices with a USB output port
• Ice scraper with a brush. Clear snow and ice from windows, lights, the hood, and the roof before driving
• Can of De-Icer
• Jumper cables
• Tire inflator which uses the cigarette lighter
• A small shovel for removing snow or mud from in front of the tires
• Salt for melting ice and traction
• Warm blankets or a sleeping bag in case the car is stranded and fuel is in short supply.
• Boots, hats, and gloves in case the car is stranded and you must walk to safety.
• Chemically activated hand and toe warmers. HotHands makes these small enough to fit in your pocket. They have a 3 year shelf life and they last 10 and 8 hours respectively when opened.
• Food and water. Place some nuts and/or snack bars in a metal container, such as a cookie tin, to keep rodents from finding them.
• Matches and/or lighters
• Fire extinguisher
• Water-tight, puncture-resistant, trash bags (in case they’re needed for sanitation).
• A lidded plastic container big enough to hold most of this (and the plastic bags after use).
More information regarding winter preparation can be found at https://www.cdc.gov/features/winterweather/index.html.
Thanks again for the thoughts and suggestions; they really do help everyone who reads the blog!
As always, thanks for reading.
And remember to take the next step…
P.S. And remember, don’t crowd the plow! They’ve got a lot going on; in very bad conditions. Don’t ever assume they see your car, or you on foot.