Three-Letter Word of Terror
Ice—black ice, need I say more? Is a wintery chill sliding down your spine? To me, nothing is more terrifying than black ice, which I had the misfortune of experiencing as my Durango gained velocity while sliding down a steep hill in Wheeling, WV on December 12th. After a few twirls on the devil-glazed blacktop, I was lucky enough to skid off the road onto some gravel…unharmed, except for a near heart attack. A few seconds later, a white minivan crashed right next to me, and then a little silver car collided with another minivan broken down along the hill. Not a fun morning and we were all stranded for quite some time.
“It could never happen to me. I’m always the lucky one.” Yes, you may be a lucky one, but what if your luck is frozen as subzero temperatures speedily paralyze it making you vulnerable to Mother Nature? Are you prepared to be unexpectedly caught in a winter storm?
Traveling during the winter means packing for unexpected weather and vehicle complications because Mother Nature does not care if you have water, food, or flashlights. She’s a cruel adversary who is beautifully deceptive as her chilly breath delivers dangerous snow and ice. Please take the time to prepare for your winter traveling destinations.
Winter Traveling Tips:
-First and foremost, do not travel if treacherous weather is on the brink of befalling your route. Wherever you’re heading will still be there when the storm subsides. Common sense is absolutely your best defense when winter weather is planning on taking a bite out of your plans. And do not use excuses like…but Christmas is special, Mom will be so disappointed, or Uncle Charlie will never forgive us if we miss dinner to validate putting yourself and your loved ones at risk. Your family and friends will understand if bad weather changes your plans. Chill out and stay safe.
-Keep in mind all vehicles must be in good working order to be dependable in the winter. This includes making sure your battery, lights, ignition, fluids, brakes, exhaust, heating and cooling systems, and tires are ready for the winter roads.
-Try as hard as possible to maintain at least ½ tank of gas in case a breakdown occurs. If a breakdown happens, use the gas sparingly to run the heater. Check to make sure the tailpipe is not blocked with snow, ice, or dirt. Carbon monoxide poisoning can happen if you’re not careful. Another important tip is to crack a window and allow fresh air to circulate.
-An emergency travel kit including flashlights, water, food, a first aid kit, extra coat, gloves, and hats, plus blankets, real boots…not just a pretty pair, extra ice scraper and brush, jumper cables, flares or distress signals. You may want to consider an emergency generator since a car’s battery is crucial to staying warm.
-Basic tools for changing a tire…and of course, a spare tire is always a smart thing to have. Pack a product like Fix-a-Flat and be sure to include a small bag of sand in case traction is needed.
-Charge all cell phones! Carry an extra one if possible. Too many people travel with their cell phones on a low charge.
-Tow rope is an item to be tossed in the trunk too. A friendly by-passer may be able to assist pulling your vehicle out of a ditch, but not everyone carries this.
-Coffee can, matches (small lighter), and candles to use for melting snow in case extra water is needed.
-A shovel could be your best friend, so take it along for the ride.
-Extra batteries for the flashlights, but watch for the expiration date.
-If you wear contacts, make sure your glasses are packed as well. It’s also a fantastic idea to pack an extra pair of glasses just in case of breakage.
-ChapStick and body lotion for extremely dry winter skin is an added bonus if you remember to pack it.
-Sunglasses are important since you may be blinded from the glare of snow and ice. Any digging or repairs will be made easier with them.
-In addition, make sure to call people at the destination so they will know approximately when you should arrive. Update them as you get closer so if something happens, your location can be easier to find.
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