“Put on Your Big, Ugly, Winter Driving Hat”
My winter driving hat is one of those big, furry things that makes people want to swing a broom at my head because they think it’s an animal attacking. I don’t care. It’s not how you look that matters; it’s what you do to get ready for winter driving, and the hat is my first line of defense in case of emergency. There’s more …
Prepare for everything
- Have your antifreeze checked or buy a dip tester and check it yourself. It isn’t hard. Add antifreeze or water, as necessary.
- Keep a window scraper and windshield brush in the car for ice and snow removal. A rubber squeegee can also come in handy.
- Pack an emergency kit with blankets, extra clothes, gloves, packaged snacks, jumper cables, a flashlight, a first aid kit, and of course, your big, ugly, winter driving hat.
- Keep your gas tank full as much as possible.
- Make sure your cell phone is charged before you get on the road. Better yet, buy a car charger for $5 or $10 and keep it plugged into the cigarette lighter.
- Keep an eye on your tires. Cold weather can reduce tire pressure.
- For longer trips, tell someone where you’re going and when you expect to arrive. Check the forecast before driving into isolated areas.
Keep an extra sharp eye out for slippery road conditions and reduce your speed appropriately. Especially watch for black ice, which is so thin that it can be nearly invisible. Don’t make sudden changes with the gas and brake pedals, to make sure you keep traction and give yourself extra stopping distance.
If you get stuck in the weather …
- Stay with your vehicle. You’ll be warmer, and it makes you easier to find. More people than you might think get lost and hurt in snowstorms after their vehicles become immobilized.
- Tie a colorful piece of cloth to the antenna as a distress signal. Keep the dome light on at night, so you can be spotted more easily. It doesn’t use much juice, and your battery should be fine.
- Run the engine only when necessary. No car is perfectly air tight, and toxic exhaust fumes can get in. If you do run the engine, make sure your exhaust pipe is clear of snow and mud.
- Wrap yourself with anything you can find for warmth; newspaper, floor mats, etc.
- Wear your big, ugly, winter-driving hat. You know you want to.