Safe Winter Driving Tips

Safe Winter Driving Tips

BINGHAMTON, NY - According to the Federal Emergency Management Agency, transportation crashes are the leading cause of death during winter storms. Here are some tips on how to best prepare your vehicle for the winter season and how to react if stranded or lost on the road.

• Before a winter storm, have your mechanic check the following items in you car:

o Battery

o Antifreeze

o Wipers and windshield washer fluid

o Ignition system

o Thermostat

o Lights (including flashing hazard lights)

o Exhaust system

o Heater

o Brakes

o Defroster

o Oil level

• Install good winter tires.

• Maintain at least a half tank of gas during the winter season.

• Dress warmly.

• Keep the following items in your car during the winter season:

o Flashlights with extra batteries

o First Aid Kit

o Necessary medications (if you are traveling long distances)

o Blankets/Sleeping bag

o Plastic bags

o Matches

o Extra set of mittens, socks and hat

o Sand or kitty litter

o Small shovel

o Booster cables

o Keep a windshield scraper and small broom for ice and snow removal

o Brightly colored cloth to use as a flag

o Bottled water

• If you are trapped in your car during a winter storm:

o Set your lights to flashing and hang a piece of cloth or distress flag from antennae or window.

o If you have to run the engine, crack the window. This will protect you from carbon monoxide. Turn on the car's engine for about 10 minutes each hour.

o Stay in the car and use road maps, seat covers and floor mats to keep warm. Do not leave the car to search for assistance unless help is visible within 100 yards. You may become disoriented and lost.

o Watch for signs of frostbite and hypothermia. Frostbite is a severe reaction to cold exposure that can permanently damage its victims. Symptoms of frostbite include a loss of feeling and a white or pale appearance in fingers, toes, or nose and ear lobes. Hypothermia is a condition brought on when the body temperature drops to less than 90 degrees Fahrenheit. Symptoms may include uncontrollable shivering, slow speech, memory lapses, frequent stumbling, drowsiness and exhaustion. If either of these conditions is suspected, begin warming the person slowly and seek immediate medical assistance. Warm the person's trunk first. Arms and legs should be warmed last because stimulation of the limbs can drive cold blood toward the heart and lead to heart failure.

And remember; always check the weather before venturing out. A winter storm watch indicates that severe winter weather may affect your area. A winter storm warning indicates that severe winter weather conditions are definitely on the way. A blizzard warning means that large amounts of falling or blowing snow and sustained winds of at least 35 miles per hour are expected for several hours. If the weather is bad, stay inside. If you absolutely have to travel during bad weather, avoid traveling alone and consider carrying a cellular phone with you for emergencies. Before getting on the road, advise someone of your destination, your travel route and expected arrival time.

12/05/2008