If you live in an area that has snow, ice and cold, planning and awareness can help you stay safe when driving.
Last winter, the average temperature in the continental U.S. was a chilly 31.3 degrees. (http://www.ncdc.noaa.gov/sotc/summary-info/national/2014/2) Low temperatures combined with rain, sleet and snow make a perfect recipe for slippery, dangerous roads.
When staying home isn’t possible, consider a few of these winter driving tips from AAA:
- Make certain your tires are properly inflated.
- Keep your gas tank at least half full to avoid gas line freeze-up.
- Drive slowly and give yourself time to adjust to conditions. Accelerating, stopping and turning happen more slowly on wet roads.
- If you’re stuck in the snow, stay inside your car. Your vehicle provides temporary shelter and makes it easier for rescuers to find you. Don’t try to walk in a severe storm, as you can get lost.
- Avoid driving when tired.
APHA’s Get Ready campaign has even more tips for staying safe while driving, both in winter and year-round. Among them? Keep preparedness supplies in your car, including jumper cables, up-to-date maps, emergency flares, a first-aid kit, flashlights, blankets, batteries, a battery-operated radio, a manual can opener and a cellphone charger. Keep bottled water and non-perishable foods stocked in your call as well.
Before you head out on the road, it’s always a good idea to check the weather. If there’s a winter weather alert, here’s how to tell them apart, according to the American Red Cross:
- Winter storm outlook: Winter storm conditions possible in the next two to five days.
- Winter weather advisory: Winter weather conditions are expected to cause significant inconveniences and may be hazardous.
- Winter storm watch: Winter storm conditions are possible in the next 36 to 48 hours.
- Winter storm warning: Life-threatening, severe winter conditions have started or will begin within 24 hours. People in a warning area should take precautions now.
For more winter preparedness tips and fact sheets, visit Get Ready’s Winter Ready page. Winter officially begins Dec. 21, so now’s the time to get ready!