SnowAlthough the cold is not a new concept to many residents, the cold temperatures experienced by Utah has caught many motorists by surprises. It was reported that hundreds of motorists were stranded for seven hours on I-15 through the Virgin River Gorge along the Arizona Strip due to an intense snowstorm. There were separate reports of cars sliding and bumping against another because of the icy roads. Vehicles were also reported to stall because the road was hard to navigate. To help avoid some of these road hazards, getting your car winter ready should be a top priority to ensure yours and others safety this winter.

Here are some tips on how to prepare your car for the winter:

Install Winter Tires

It is indeed expensive but a worthy investment for safety to use four matched winter tires. Winter tires improve driving safety by providing better traction in snow, slush and icy conditions. Do a thorough check for wear and tear before installing the tires. Check tire pressure regularly as it decreases in cold weather.

Get a Maintenance Check-up

The secret to a car’s good performance is preventative maintenance. For this winter season,  make sure your battery, brakes, lights and fuses, cooling and heating systems, electrical and exhaust systems, and belts and hoses are in good condition. Have it repaired as soon as possible before venturing out onto snowy roads.

Replace Your Wiper Blades to Winter Blades

Be properly equipped for the winter months. Winter blades are more suited for this season because they are heavier and push snow and ice more easily.

Remove Snow and Ice

Remove all snow that covers your lights, mirrors, hood and roof. After starting your vehicle, wait for the window to defrost completely to allow clear visibility all around.

Bring a Fully Charged Cell Phone and a Charger

In case of emergencies, having some way to call for help is always the best idea. Having a car charger for your phone could help ease the fear that you phone might die when you need it the most. Don’t leave your phone in the car for extended periods of time during the winter months; cell phone batteries can freeze in very cold weather.

Have an Emergency Kit

As the name implies, your emergency kit is something that will be most useful and helpful to you during an unexpected situation. For example, this kit should enable you to deal with being stranded for hours for reasons such as impassable roads, car sliding off the road, engine being stalled and others. Your kit should ideally contain the following:

  1. Blankets and first aid supplies
  2. Some non-perishable food and water
  3. Windshield scraper and snow brush
  4. Extra windshield washer fluid
  5. Fuel line antifreeze
  6. Flares and matches or lighter, candles
  7. Tire chains and gloves
  8. Shovel and traction mat, sand or kitty litter
  9. Flashlight and extra batteries
  10. Battery jumper cables
  11. Spare tire, wheel wrench and jack
  12. Extra clothing and footwear

If Possible Have Your Gas Tank Full

This will help to avoid condensation and moist air on the inside of the tank, which can cause fuel lines to freeze and other serious issues. Ideally, having a half-full gas tank is good preparation especially if you have to turn around and use an alternative route home because of road conditions. You will also need the extra gas if there is a need for idling the car to keep warm because of car accidents and heavy traffic during snow storms.

If You Get Stuck in a Storm, Don’t Panic

Avoid overexertion and exposure. Stay in your vehicle and open your window slightly to make sure you have a supply of fresh air.  If snowbound, AAA recommends people to stay in their vehicles. It provides temporary shelter and makes it easier for rescuers to locate them. Use a survival candle for heat. Set out a warning light or flares. Be resourceful. Use whatever you have at hand to keep you from getting too cold.  Along with a coat and gloves, you can also use floor mats, newspapers or paper maps to insulate from the cold.

This advice on staying inside or near the vehicle was found to be one of the reasons why a family of six in Nevada was successfully found after being reported missing for 48 hours. According to the report, about 200 people had searched by land and air after the group of six composed of a couple and four children failed to return Sunday from a trip to play in the snow near their hometown of Lovelock, in Nevada’s high desert. The father was able to keep his family warm by burning the spare tire. They also used their overturned jeep as shelter from the elements. Search and rescue appreciated the fact that the family stayed together and near the vehicle. They also heated some rocks to ward off hypothermia and frostbite.

Now that we have some ideas on surviving winter in your car and on the road, let us go back to the home front. Not properly removing snow and putting down salt on the walkways around your home gives the potential for slip and fall accidents.

The trauma team at Intermountain Medical Center has provided a list of tips to help you avoid a trip to the hospital this winter:

Keep Your Sidewalks and Driveway Free of Snow and Ice

This will help you navigate your sidewalks and driveways and keep you from slipping and falling which could cause serious injuries on hard surfaces.

Wear Shoes or Boots That Have Good Traction

This is a very sensible thing to do this winter. Surfaces are quite slippery so wearing shoes with good traction is wise.

Pay Attention While Walking

Ice patches can be anywhere. Most accidents happen when we are distracted. To avoid one, be aware of the path while walking.

Allow Time for Bad Weather and Traffic Delays

Do not rush. Accidents happen to those who use excessive speed. The winter season is not ideal for speeding cars that might not be able to stop in time due to the road conditions being icy or snowy.

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention added the following tips:

  • Listen to weather forecasts. This will help you make wise decisions for necessary trips.
  • Check your emergency supplies. Have a good stock of food, medicine and other necessities in case the weather does not permit a trip to the stores.
  • Have your chimney or flue inspected each year.
  • Install a smoke detector and a battery-operated carbon monoxide detector. Test the batteries each month, and replace them twice a year.
  • Weatherproof your home. Keep the cold out by using proper insulation. Insulate your water pipes too.
  • Bring your pets indoors during the winter.

Christensen & Hymas hopes you have made all the necessary preparation as not to spoil your enjoyment this winter. Be accident free and enjoy these winter months.

Photo copy right to dbking

Ken Christensen
Partner, Founder at Christensen & Hymas
Ken Christensen is the founding partner of Christensen & Hymas. He is an avid cyclist, loves baseball, and enjoys spending time with his family in the outdoors.

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