Health Team

Prepare car to weather for winter

Posted January 20, 2015

With winter only about half over, Dr. Allen Mask offered a reminder to drivers to be prepared to wait out dangerous weather with the right equipment.

Mask pointed to the day in February 2014 when fast-falling snow and ice caught hundreds of drivers by surprise on Triangle highways.

"I was one of those people caught in the sudden buildup of snow and ice at the middle of February 2014," Mask said. "I was on my way to the station and, along with many other drivers, had to leave my car and walk."

That storm began in the middle of the work day, and snow piled up quickly on the roads. People saw the sleet and snow falling, and many took to the road to try to beat the traffic to get home. Many of them simply got stuck. Many had to trudge for miles to find a warm place or call for help.

Their experience might not have been so bad, Mask said, had they taken simple steps to prepare themselves.

Mask suggested that drivers pack an emergency kit for winter weather.

  • If your battery dies, you don't want to be without jumper cables. 
  • If you get out of your car, you should never be without a reflective vest.
  • As it's getting dark outside, you should be prepared with a flashlight and fresh batteries.
  • Many drivers ran out of gas while they kept the engine running to stay warm. Mask recommends keeping a small, empty gas can in your trunk.
  • And every car ought to have a first aid kit. If the forecast is snow, bring an extra dose of any medication you're taking.
  • Pack flares so people can see your car better if you have to pull over.
  • A small shovel can get you out of sticky spots.
  • Keep a pair of boots in your car in case you do have to walk.
  • You should have warm blanket and an extra change of clothes. When you go out on cold or snowy days, double up on socks.
  • You may be stuck for a while until a tow truck comes, so have some water on hand and some non-perishable food for yourself or another unprepared motorist.

To avoid the mechanical problems that can accompany winter driving, Mask has these tips to plan ahead:

  • If the forecast calls for winter weather in the next day or so, fill up the gas tank and keep topping it off until snow comes.
  • Schedule time with your mechanic to check your battery strength, as well as oil and antifreeze levels. 
  • Get the tires checked for proper air pressure and wear.
  • Before the cold really sets in, be sure your heating system and windshield defroster are operating properly.
  • Check your brakes and brake fluid.
  • Fill your windshield wiper tank with a wintertime mixture, which includes some de-icing fluid.

A bit of advance planning can make all the difference the next time the flakes fly.


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  • Walkin Man Jan 21, 2015

    Wouldn't it sound better as "Prepare car to weather the winter"?

  • TimeWillTell Jan 20, 2015

    "Many drivers ran out of gas while they kept the engine running to stay warm. Mask recommends keeping a small, filled gas can in your trunk."

    BAD ADVICE. Potetentially deadly advice. In event of an accident or selection of an unsuitable container, the driver could end up with gasoline spilled in the trunk, or fumes collecting to turn the car into a rolling fuel-air explosive BOMB.

    And if one is so worried about being stuck as to keep all that stuff (please, NOT the gasoline) in the trunk, I would certainly add a container for, um, bio-relief.