Preparing Your Vehicle
Though the holiday season might be a few weeks away, you can start preparing your vehicle now so it is ready to go when the time comes. Make sure your windshield wipers are in good shape. There are several signs that indicate it is time for new wipers, but some common indications include the rubber splitting into sections or pulling away from the metal arm. Also if the wipers make a chattering sound when they are on, rather than going smoothly back and forth, it is probably time to replace them. While speaking on windshields, make sure you have plenty of washer fluid, and consider packing an extra gallon to refill as needed along the way. Look for washer fluid that is specifically designed for freezing temperatures. If it has been awhile since you’ve had your vehicle inspected, it is a good idea to have a mechanic check it out to make sure your fluid levels are right and that your tires are in good shape, among other things. If your tires are getting close to needing to be replaced, now might be a good time to do that before pushing them to the limit on snowy roads.
Emergency (and Non-Emergency) Supplies
Now is also a good time to put together an emergency kit or, if you already have one, update and restock your emergency items. Some items that are helpful to have include jumper cables, flares, a first-aid kit, gloves, warm clothes, appropriate footwear, blankets, food and water, a flashlight, extra batteries, and other safety gear. A shovel, tire chains, and cat litter or sand (to provide traction should you get stuck in snow or ice) are good ideas as well. Bring a book along to pass the time in the event you get stuck in traffic or stranded in bad weather. Aside from emergency food and water, pack some snacks for the trip. This will save you the extra money it costs for food at the gas station and keep hunger pains at bay in the event you run into traffic or weather-related delays along the way. Pack a cell phone car charger, and make sure your phone is fully charged before you hit the road.
Emergency Kit Essentials
- Jumper Cables
- First-Aid Kit
- Warm Clothes
- Extra Batteries
Travel Times and Routes
The day before Thanksgiving is the biggest travel day of the year. Consider leaving earlier in the day, traveling at night, or leaving early on Thanksgiving Day to avoid congestion on the roads. Also, prepare for the unexpected and allow plenty of time to get to your destination. If traffic or weather conditions make your regular route undesirable, how else can you get there? Consider a more scenic drive, though slightly longer. Find a few places to stop along the way to let everyone stretch their legs and get some fresh air.
Before you depart, become confident in knowing your route. It’s important to be ready for anything on the road that could slightly change your plans. This could include construction, road closings, and traffic hurdles.
Driving During Stormy Weather
Even after doing your best to avoid traveling during bad weather, you may still find yourself on the road in adverse conditions. Take it slow if the roads are wet, snowy, or icy. Leave extra room between your vehicle and others on the road. Take extra care when passing through shady spots or over bridges and overpasses as these areas are more prone to ice patches. While having four-wheel drive or all-wheel drive is helpful, it won’t help your vehicle stop or steer better on ice, so be careful no matter what features your vehicle has.
Staying Safe if Stranded
While no one wants to be stranded on the side of the road in a storm, it happens to thousands of people every year. If you end up stranded, stay with your vehicle. If possible, start the vehicle and run the heater for short periods of time. Make sure to open one of the windows slightly to prevent carbon monoxide build-up. If you have flares, ignite them and carefully place one in front of the vehicle and one behind the vehicle. Despite your best efforts in preparing ahead of time, you may still run into a variety of delays. Don’t let the stress of the situation get to you. Take some time to enjoy the new novel you brought along and relish in good conversation with your travel companions.
Did You Know?
Motor vehicle accidents involving bad weather—largely ice and snow—claim the lives of more than 6,000 Americans and injure almost 500,000 each year.