Preparing for Winter Driving

Preparing for Winter Driving

If the area where you live isn’t accustomed to driving in the winter, snowfall may mean sheer panic on the roadways. Keep a level head, and adhere to these tips on winter driving safety:

How to drive in the snow

How to get your car out of a snow bank

Use these tips to help get out of a snowy situation, or help others that are stuck!

  • Check to see if your exhaust pipe is clogged. This should always be one of the first items on your checklist with getting your car out of snow. If your car’s exhaust pipe, usually located in the external rear of the car, is clogged, carbon monoxide may seep into the car’s interior and cause carbon monoxide poisoning– a potentially deadly incident. If it is clogged or blocked, scoop out snow and clear the area of the tailpipe.
  • Dig, dig, dig. If you have a snow shovel in your winter car emergency kit, kick up your heels and start digging! Dig out as much as you can around your vehicle: near the tires, underneath the car, in the front, in the back, etc. The more you preliminarily dig out snow, the less you’ll have to deal with slipping on when you try to move your car.
    Tip: pay attention to what your body is telling you, and avoid overexertion. If you’re feeling too cold or fatigued, take a break and sit in your warm car or a warm shelter.
  • Avoid revving. It may seem logical to press on the gas hard to get out of a situation where your car is stuck, but in cases of snow, it’s about the worst thing you can do. When your wheels spin fast without getting you anywhere they create friction and heat. That heat melts the snow underneath your tire, and turns it to ice almost immediately, which makes driving out of the snow much harder.
  • Rock-n-roll. We’re not talking about blaring AC/DC through your radio (though if that helps you get the strength to push your car out, blare it loud!). Rocking your car back and forth can dislodge your vehicle from any compact snow dip that’s keeping your car from moving. This can be done with extra help from people, or just by yourself. If you have extra people to help, have them stand outside of your car, and have them rock the vehicle back and forth from the rear of the vehicle. Sit in the driver’s seat and plan to accelerate to gain traction to move forward. If you’re by yourself and need to get your car out of a snow bank, using drive and reverse functions can cause the same effect, and get your car moving forward and out of the snow.

What to Do if You’re Stranded in Your Car During a Blizzard

In the case of being stuck in a car during a snowstorm, follow these tips to ensure your safety, provided by the The Weather Channel:

  • Call for help immediately! Some cell phones turn off if the outside temperature is too cold, even if they are fully charged. Once you realize you’re stuck, call someone first for help. This way, they’ll know exactly where you are, and can help to save you if you’re not able to get out.
  • Determine if you can leave. If you’re in an area where you can safely reach a point of shelter or civilization, decide if you want to leave your car to search for warmth and safety. When in doubt, don’t risk it.
  • Prevent carbon monoxide poisoning. Exit the car to check if your exhaust tailpipe is being blocked or clogged by snow. Clear out the area or pipe if necessary.
  • Dig yourself out, if possible. If you think that you’re able to get your car out easily, follow the steps listed in the above section to remove your car from the snow bank. If not, stay in your car and wait for help.
  • Make yourself visible. Tie a neon or brightly colored ribbon around your car’s antenna to signal your location to help teams.
  • Run car intermittently. To prevent hypothermia and other winter-related illnesses, turn on your car every now and then to heat up the vehicle’s cabin area. Since you don’t know how long you’ll be stranded, use gas sparingly and only turn your car on when necessary.Tip: check the car’s tailpipe for clogging each time you turn your car on.
  • Ration food and water. If you have a supply of food and water, eat and drink sparingly, just in case you’re stuck longer than anticipated.Tip: in severe cases, you can use snow as a water source, but always be sure to melt it down into water before drinking it. Eating snow can lower your body temperature and heighten your risk of hypothermia.

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