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Winter Driving Safety

Are you prepared for winter weather?

Winter weather too often catches people unprepared. Researchers say that 70 percent of the fatalities related to ice and snow occur in automobiles, and about 25 percent of all winter-related fatalities are people caught off guard, out in the storm. What winter weather preparations are being made in your area, and what are the appropriate steps to take that will ensure your winter weather safety? 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.

Before the winter season begins:

Have a mechanic check the following items on your car:

* Battery

* Antifreeze

* Wipers and windshield washer fluid

* Ignition system

* Thermostat

* Lights

* Flashing hazard lights

* Exhaust system

* Heater

* Brakes

* Defroster

* Oil level (if necessary, replace existing oil with a winter grade oil or the SAE10w/30 weight variety)

snow flag 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 studs.
snow flag Keep a windshield scraper and small broom for ice and snow removal.
snow flag Maintain at least a half tank of gas during the winter season.
snow flag Plan long trips carefully.
snow flag 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.
snow flag If you must go out during a winter storm, use public transportation.
snow flag Dress warmly. Wear layers of loose-fitting, layered, light weight clothing.
snow flag Carry food and water.
snow flag Store a supply of high energy "munchies" and several bottles of water.
snow flag 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)

* Matches

* Extra set of mittens, socks, and a wool cap

* Rain gear and extra clothes

* Small sack of sand for generating traction under wheels

* Small shovel

* Small tools (pliers, wrench, screwdriver)

* 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

snow flag


snow flag Stay in the car. Do not leave the car to search for assistance unless help is visible within 100 yards. You may become disoriented and lost in blowing and drifting snow.
snow flag Display a trouble sign.
snow flag Hang a brightly colored cloth on the radio antenna and raise the hood.
snow flag Occasionally run engine to keep warm.
snow flag 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.
snow flag Beware of carbon monoxide poisoning. Keep the exhaust pipe clear of snow, and open a downwind window slightly for ventilation.
snow flag Watch for signs of frostbite and hypothermia.
snow flag 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.
snow flag For warmth, huddle together.
snow flag Use newspapers, maps, and even the removable car mats for added insulation.
snow flag Avoid overexertion. Cold weather puts an added strain on the heart.
snow flag Unaccustomed exercise such as shoveling snow or pushing a car can bring on a heartattack or make other medical conditions worse. Be aware of symptoms of dehydration.

Wind Chill:

"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. Wind Chill Chart.

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.

Put person 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.

Return to Winter Weather Information

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Bellemont, AZ 86015-6057

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