The leading cause of death
during winter storms is transportation accidents. Preparing your vehicle for the
winter season and knowing how to react if stranded or lost on the road are the
keys to safe winter driving.
mechanic check the following items on your car.
• Wipers and windshield washer fluid
• Ignition system
• Flashing hazard lights
• Exhaust system
• Oil level (if necessary, replace
existing oil with a winter grade oil or the SAE 10w/30 weight variety)
Install good winter tires.
Make sure the tires have adequate tread. All-weather radials are usually
adequate for most winter conditions. However, some jurisdictions require that to
drive on their roads, vehicles must be equipped with chains or snow tires with
Keep a windshield scraper and small broom for ice and snow
Maintain at least a half tank of gas during the winter season.
Plan long trips carefully
Listen to the radio or call the state highway
patrol for the latest road conditions. Always travel during daylight and, if
possible, take at least one other person.
If you must go out during a
winter storm, use public transportation.
Wear layers of loose-fitting, layered, lightweight clothing.
Carry food and water.
Store a supply of high energy "munchies" and several
bottles of water.
Contact your local emergency management office or
American Red Cross chapter for more information on winter driving.
Winter Car Kit
Keep these items in your car:
• Flashlights with extra batteries
• First aid kit with pocket knife
• Necessary medications
• Several blankets
• Sleeping bags
• Extra newspapers for insulation
• Plastic bags (for sanitation)
• Extra set of mittens, socks, and a wool cap
• Rain gear and extra clothes
• Small sack of sand for generating
traction under wheels
• Small tools (pliers, wrench,
• Booster cables
• Set of tire chains or traction mats
• Cards, games, and puzzles
• Brightly colored cloth to use as a flag
• Canned fruit and nuts
• Nonelectric can opener
• Bottled water
IF TRAPPED IN CAR DURING A BLIZZARD
Stay in the
Do not leave the car to search for assistance unless help is visible
within 100 yards. You may become disoriented and lost is blowing and drifting
Display a trouble sign.
Hang a brightly colored cloth on the
radio antenna and raise the hood.
Occasionally run engine to keep warm.
Turn on the car's engine for about 10
minutes each hour. Run the heater when the car is running. Also, turn on the
car's dome light when the car is running.
Beware of carbon monoxide
poisoning. Keep the exhaust pipe clear of snow, and open a downwind window
slightly for ventilation.
Watch for signs of frostbite and hypothermia.
Do minor exercises to keep up circulation.
Clap hands and move arms and
legs occasionally. Try not to stay in one position for too long. If more than
one person is in the car, take turns sleeping.
For warmth, huddle
Use newspapers, maps, and even the removable car mats for added
Cold weather puts an added strain on
the heart. Unaccustomed exercise such as shoveling snow or pushing a car can
bring on a heart attack or make other medical conditions worse. Be aware of
symptoms of dehydration.
"Wind chill" is a calculation of how cold it feels outside when
the effects of temperature and wind speed are combined. A strong wind combined
with a temperature of just below freezing can have the same effect as a still
air temperature about 35 degrees colder.
Winter Storm Watches and
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.
Frostbite and Hypothermia
Frostbite is a severe reaction to cold exposure that can permanently damage its
victims. A loss of feeling and a white or pale appearance in fingers, toes, or
nose and ear lobes are symptoms of frostbite.
Hypothermia is a condition
brought on when the body temperature drops to less than 90 degrees Fahrenheit.
Symptoms of hypothermia include uncontrollable shivering, slow speech, memory
lapses, frequent stumbling, drowsiness, and exhaustion.
If frostbite or
hypothermia is suspected, begin warming the person slowly and seek immediate
medical assistance. Warm the person's trunk first. Use your own body heat to
help. Arms and legs should be warmed last because stimulation of the limbs can
drive cold blood toward the heart and lead to heart failure.
in dry clothing and wrap their entire body in a blanket.
Never give a frostbite or hypothermia victim something with caffeine in it (like
coffee or tea) or alcohol. Caffeine, a stimulant, can cause the heart to beat
faster and hasten the effects the cold has on the body. Alcohol, a depressant,
can slow the heart and also hasten the ill effects of cold body temperatures.