Winterize Your Car and Your Driving
Keeping simple emergency items and driving tips in mind can make for a safer winter driving experience.
As temperatures nose dive and snow and high winds lead to treacherous driving conditions, keeping safe in the car is a necessity. Winter traveling can be safe and event-free if a few simple precautions are taken.
Preparing your car for the winter can be as easy as adding some supplies and taking a few necessary steps. The Farmington Hills/Farmington Emergency Preparedness Commission recommends that you keep the following items in your car’s emergency supply kit:
- First aid kit
- Emergency blanket
- Tire chains
- Basic tool set including jumper cables, aerosol flat fix, duct tape or electrical tape, an adjustable Crescent wrench, Philips and flat head screwdrivers, knife, and pliers
- Fold-up shovel
- Windshield scraper
- Tow rope
- Sand or kitty litter to place under tires for traction in the snow
- Extra gas container
- Up-to-date road maps
- Cell phone for emergencies (some disconnected cell phones may still be able to dial 9-1-1 when charged)
- Extra blankets
- Clothing (preferably wool, not cotton), shoes, hat, and gloves
- Hand and body warmers
During the winter, it’s especially important to drive safely. The roads and highways can become dangerous if precautions are not taken in every instance. The Farmington Hills/Farmington Emergency Preparedness Commission offers these awareness tips for staying safe while driving during the wintertime:
- Maintain a half tank of gas in your car in case you get stuck or need to use your heater to stay warm.
- Don't start your car in a closed garage. Carbon monoxide can be fatal when breathed in a confined area.
- Slow down on bridges and overpasses, which freeze first. Avoid sudden changes of speed or direction as you drive over them.
- Look out for other danger zones like intersections, hills, and curves. Reduce speed and watch for other drivers who may be skidding.
- Keep windows free of snow and ice.
- Keep your speed steady, avoid sudden stops or accelerations.
- Use brakes cautiously. Abrupt stopping can cause brakes to lock up, causing you to lose control of your steering.
- Practice slow-speed maneuvers in a snow or ice-covered parking lot; also practice hard braking and steering in skidding situations.
- Read your owner’s manual carefully for information on your car’s equipment and handling characteristics.
- Add weight to the bed of a truck to improve traction since trucks are prone to rear wheel skids.
- If you get stuck in the snow, straighten the wheels and accelerate slowly. Avoid spinning the tires, and use sand or gravel under the wheels.
- If you get stuck in a storm and help is not visible, don’t leave your car. If you absolutely must leave for help, use a rope or other tether to guide you back to your car.
In Michigan, winter happens. By taking these precautions, you can prevent winter disasters and keep your family safe on the road. For more information on this topic, or other preparedness topics, visit the Farmington Hills/Farmington Emergency Preparedness Commission website at FHReady.org, attend an EPC training session or call 248-871-2417 to obtain an Emergency Preparedness Handbook.