Winter Preparedness – Car Safety
You may recall seeing those cars and passengers stranded on Lake Shore Drive, Chicago years ago. While you can’t change the weather and conditions, you can prepare and plan ahead. Plan long trips carefully, listening to the radio or television, or checking online, for the latest weather forecasts and road conditions. If bad weather is expected, drive only if absolutely necessary. Is your car winter ready?
Check or have a mechanic check the following items on your car:
- Keep your gas tank full – in case evacuation is needed.
- Do not drive through a flooded area – Six inches of water can cause a vehicle to lose control and possibly stall. A foot of water will float many cars.
- Be aware of areas where floodwaters have receded – Roads may have weakened and could collapse under the weight of a car.
- If a power line falls on your car you are at risk of electrical shock, stay inside until a trained person removes the wire.
- Antifreeze levels – ensure they are sufficient to avoid freezing.
- Battery and ignition system – should be in top condition and battery terminals should be clean.
- Brakes – check for wear and fluid levels.
- Exhaust system – check for leaks and crimped pipes and repair or replace as necessary. Carbon monoxide is deadly and usually gives no warning.
- Fuel and air filters – replace and keep water out of the system by using additives and maintaining a full tank of gas. A full tank will keep the fuel line from freezing.
- Heater and defroster – ensure they work properly.
- Lights and flashing hazard lights – check for serviceability.
- Oil – check for level and weight. Heavier oils congeal more at low temperatures and do not lubricate as well.
- Thermostat – ensure it works properly.
- Windshield wiper equipment – repair any problems and maintain proper washer fluid level.
- 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.
If there is an explosion or other factor that makes it difficult to control the vehicle, pull over, stop the car and set the parking brake.
If the emergency could impact the physical stability of the roadway, avoid overpasses, bridges, power lines, signs and other hazards.
(source: http://www.ready.gov/car; image: Reuters)