Prep your vehicle for the season of snow

  • Published
  • By Airman 1st Class Kali L. Gradishar
  • 92nd Air Refueling Wing Public Affairs
 Just recently, I stepped outside in the early morning and found that the ground had become crisp with frozen dew. I realized that pretty soon temperatures will drop and the ground will be covered in frosty snow.

Children and those who are children at heart will be outside making snowmen, bundled in layers of warm winter clothing, the plows will be out clearing the streets, and people will be out shoveling driveways and sidewalks.

This brought to mind that it is about time for drivers to give their vehicles a winter check up to ensure that the winter will be a safe one on the roads. Snow and ice aren't prejudiced to any particular make or model of vehicle, so it is best to just be prepared.

There are a few things you can do to prepare your vehicle for the coming of Jack Frost and his bitter winter sting.

The first thing you can do is take your vehicle to get a check-up. The base Auto Hobby Center might be a good place to take your vehicle, and while you're there you might learn something new.

Important points of the check up should include the vehicle's brakes, battery, wiring, hoses, fan belts and antifreeze level. Also be sure to have the tires inspected for air and wear. You should still have treads on your tires.

Just as ensuring the mechanics of your vehicle are in proper working order is important, so is making sure you have all you need inside your vehicle in case of an emergency.

It is always wise to have more than half a tank of gas, according the fatherly advice I received my first winter as a driver. And make sure you know how to change a tire.

Jumper cables, tire chains, a shovel and a tool kit can also come in handy if your vehicle won't start, the roads as slick as silk, you get stuck in snow or something in your vehicle breaks. These devices are also valuable in the instance that someone else on the road needs assistance.

According to the National Security Council, it is also essential to have a "survival kit." This includes a flashlight with extra batteries, reflective triangles, a compass, first aid kit, an ice scraper, wooden stick matches in a waterproof container, blankets, and foods such as canned nuts or dried fruit. It's also a good idea to keep additional pieces of warm clothing at hand.

The following are bits of advice from the NSC in case you become stranded:

- Do not leave your car unless you know where you are and how far it is to help.
- Light two flares and place one at each end of the car a safe distance away to attract attention.
- If the car's exhaust pipe is not blocked, run the engine and heater for short periods of time, depending upon the amount of gas in the tank.
- Protect yourself from frostbite and hypothermia by using woolen items and blankets to keep warm.
- Keep at least one window open slightly, as heavy snow and ice can seal a car shut.
- Eat hard candy to keep your mouth moist.

The key to safety and survival, even in the worst of conditions, is to be prepared at all times.

Carry the essential supplies you might need in case of an emergency, but also be informed before stepping out the door. Know the conditions of roads you plan to travel by checking the weather and travel conditions via radio or television, and be alert to your surroundings at all times.

(Information from the National Safety Council web site was used in this article.)