Snowy travel is just as unavoidable as the winter season itself. Everyone knows it’s coming, there’s a chill in the air and Old Man Winter won’t be too far behind. Even though the idea of traveling on snowy roads might create a bit of anxiety for many, that doesn’t mean you can’t prepare yourself and your vehicle for precisely those conditions. This will ultimately help give you peace of mind all season long.
Whether you’re on the road during winter for business or you’re setting out to visit long distance friends and family, you’ll want to maintain your vehicle properly, pack emergency-use items, and keep yourself safe with the right vehicle coverage insurance policy.
Vehicle Safety & Maintenance
- Get your car battery checked. Cold weather can easily drain the charge from a dying battery. Don’t get stranded by the roadside because your car won’t start, have the voltage checked by your mechanic.
- Change your oil. Consistently colder temperatures require thinner oil; get your oil changed before the season hits hard.
- Gather auto insurance quotes. Are you thoroughly aware of what your current policy covers? You might not be getting the best deal or the best coverage, shop around for the best auto insurance quotes to save money and gain peace of mind.
- Inspect the tires. Be sure they are properly inflated, be aware of any dashboard alerts from the car’s monitoring system, check for ample tread.
- Get a tune up. It’s like a checkup for your car. Your mechanic will be checking the brakes, fan belts, air, emission filters, hoses, ignition, wiring, spark plugs, and more.
- Depending on where you live, where you’re going and if they are required or not, consider installing snow chains.
What to Pack
- Jumper cables
- Extra clothing such as hats, gloves, scarves, rain gear, boots
- A small shovel (to dig out of snow ditches if necessary)
- Bright colored cloth (to use as a flag to attract attention)
- Bottled water
- Snacks like nuts and protein bars
- Flashlights (with extra batteries)
- First aid kit
- Medications you can’t do without
- Kitty litter or sand to help get your tires unstuck
General Precautions to Take
- Make friends with the meteorologist. Not literally, of course, but it will pay to keep an eye on the sky. Watch the weather forecast for the area where you are visiting and where you’ll be on your journey. Don’t intentionally drive into a blizzard. If you know one is coming, either avoid the drive altogether or find a hotel to wait it out.
- If you do get stuck in a storm, never leave the car to find assistance unless you can see that help is available within 300 feet. If there is a lot of drifting and blowing snow, it can be easy to get disoriented and lose your way.
- If you are stuck in the car, take steps to avoid hypothermia. Change positions often, and engage in minor exercises like hand clapping. Turn on the engine and run the heater for 10 minutes every hour, if possible. Be sure the exhaust pipe is clear of snow to avoid carbon monoxide poisoning. Keep a downwind window open a crack for ventilation.
- Be reasonable with your expectations. If your destination is usually a 12 hour drive away, you may want to consider breaking that into manageable stints, especially in the winter. Driving is different during the cold months because night comes earlier, weather constantly changes, and traffic may be traveling at lower speeds due to conditions.
- Keep paper maps handy. You never know when a cell phone will die or you lose GPS, so be stocked with paper road maps for times when technology can’t be counted on.
- Be prepared for anything with roadside assistance. Whether it’s offered through your insurance agent, AAA or any number of other providers, roadside assistance can be your best friend during a snow travel emergency.
There’s no way to avoid winter travel, so you might as well be as prepared and well covered as you possibly can. Making sure to pack the right just-in-case items, and knowing what to do in certain situations will help get you from point A to point B with little consequence. Peace of mind