Winter is coming and there is no stopping it. We will have to deal with snow and cold temperatures and our daily life cannot just stop, so we must be prepared. Last year, many major cities, including New York, Minneapolis, and Washington D.C. received as much as 2 1/2 times more snow than usual. In Detroit, it was their snowiest winter on record with an unprecedented 95 total inches.
According to Geico Insurance Company, winter damage led to more than 175,000 insurance claims totaling more than $1.5 billion U.S. dollars. Drivers are especially vulnerable to winter weather extremes and the only way to combat that challenge is with smart preparation and a little bit of common sense. The Automobile Association of America says that as many as five million drivers have been stranded on roads over the holiday season, so the following tips are some ways to handle the worst that winter has to offer.
1. Be prepared! While it is safest to completely avoid driving in winter weather, that isn’t always possible because we must still live our lives and report to work. Before the first winter storm hits, make sure your vehicle is ready.
- Get a checkup
- Get snow tires
- Get fluids topped off
2. If you break down, know what to do! Here’s how to get help and stay safe.
- Know where you are. Keep note of important landmarks, major intersections, or highway markers.
- If you’re safely out of traffic, wait inside your vehicle and call for help.
- Switch on your safety/emergency flashers to make your vehicle visible.
- Assess your situation and the condition of your vehicle. Ventilate as necessary and run the engine as little as possible until help arrives.
3. Accidents do happen! Know how to handle the unexpected.
- Call the police or 911.
- Stay at the scene in a fast location and exchange any necessary information with those involved (names, phone numbers, location of accident, etc.)
- Contact your insurance company and inform them of the situation. For insurance purposes, take photos of the damage to all vehicles and/or property, the accident scene and identification, including insurance cards and license plates.
4. Use this checklist for when a storm is coming and keep these items in your trunk.
- Snow scraper or brush
- Collapsible shovel
- Windshield-washer fluid
- De-icing sand, salt, or kitty litter
- Jumper cables
- Tow rope
- Flashlight with extra batteries
- Candles and matches in a waterproof bag or container
- First-aid kit
- Bottled water and snacks
If you follow all of these tips, you should be well prepared for the winter ahead.