Being on the road anytime can be a dangerous proposition – distracted drivers, deer, and other unexpected surprises can make driving safely a challenge. But winter adds another layer of difficulty as the arrival of snow and ice creates hazardous driving conditions.
It’s always good to drive cautiously, and to make sure you’re prepared for anything the road could throw your way. Today we have a few tips to help make sure that you avoid an accident and that you have what you need in case of an emergency on the roads this winter.
Check Your Battery
If you’ve ever left your phone or laptop out in the car overnight when it’s below freezing, you may have noticed that the battery was dead when you retrieved it the next morning. Batteries are susceptible to extreme cold, and if your car battery is already weak, freezing temperatures can sap the energy from it and leave you stuck.
Making sure that your battery is in good working order can help save you from the stress of being stranded in the cold. Take your car to a trusted mechanic or auto parts store and ask them to check the voltage on your battery. If they recommend replacing the battery, consider taking the leap to avoid an unexpected surprise. It’s much better to replace the battery when it’s convenient for you instead of on the side of the road.
Replace Your Windshield Wipers & Washer Fluid
You should already be in the habit of replacing your windshield wipers every 6-12 months, but if you haven’t put on a new set of wiper blades recently, doing so can be a big help in the winter. Especially as roads are treated with salt and sand, your windshield will tend to get dirtier faster, so it’s important to make sure that your line of sight is kept clear. Also, when you need to refill your washer fluid, make sure to pay a little extra for one with an antifreeze solution – doing so will let you clear dust and debris without causing your windshield to freeze up.
Check Your Tires
If the tread on your tires is already low, it’s a good idea to get them replaced before snow even enters the forecast. Not sure how to check? Take a penny and place it in the tread with Lincoln head down and facing you. If you’re able to see all of Lincoln’s head, your tread is worn down and it’s probably time to replace your tires.
Keep An Ice Scraper & Deicing Solution Handy
It’s always a good idea to have an ice scraper in your car – these days, they even make ones that have a mitt attached to the handle to keep your hand warm while you’re clearing the ice from your car. It’s also a good idea to have some deicing solution – you can make a simple solution at home to spray on your windshield, door handles, etc. in the event that they freeze over. Just combine two cups of rubbing alcohol and one cup of water, pour the mixture into an empty spray bottle, and keep it in your garage or by the front door for easy access.
This solution won’t freeze, and you can spray it on your car’s windows to make deicing in the morning a breeze. You can also keep an extra bottle in your car, in case your car freezes up again while you’re at the office or running errands.
Create (Or Beef Up) Your Car’s Emergency Kit
Here’s a few basics you should always have in your car in case you get stuck in the snow:
- Gloves, hat, and scarf
- Snacks – granola bars, dried fruit, etc.
- Gallon-sized bag of kitty litter, salt, or icemelt
- Road flare(s)
- Jumper cables
If you don’t already have these things assembled in your car, it might be a good idea to get a small storage tote and start putting together your emergency kit. It may seem excessive – especially if you live in a warmer climate where snow is rare – but you can never be too prepared in case of an emergency.