HARTFORD, Connecticut – Winter brings freezing temperatures, ice and snow. On Wednesday, Connecticut residents found themselves trying to navigate icy roads while those traveling to Virginia earlier in the week were trapped on frozen roads.
So what can you do to stay safe?
We’ve taken the advice of the American Red Cross, AAA, and Porter and Chester and combined it here.
Tips for your vehicle
- Battery and charging system: Check your battery and charging system. It is best to have a fully charged and working battery in cold weather. A car battery will last three to five years, but your driving habits can increase or decrease the lifespan. Contact a qualified professional to test the battery.
- Tires: Check and replace the tires if they are not suitable for winter. This also includes making sure that the tires you have are designed for winter driving.
- Tire pressure: Cold temperatures can affect tire pressure. The recommended tire pressure for your car can be found in the owner’s manual or on a sticker on the door jamb. As temperatures drop, tire pressure also drops, typically one PSI every 10 degrees.
- Gasoline: Keep your vehicle’s gas tank full so that you can leave immediately in an emergency and to prevent the fuel line from freezing.
- Check the antifreeze: You can get a test for the level of freeze protection with an inexpensive tester available at any auto parts store. Always check the coolant level in the overflow tank when the engine is cold. If the level is low, you must add a 50/50 solution of coolant and water to maintain the necessary antifreeze capacity.
- Windshield washer fluid: Always fill the washer fluid reservoir with a winter cleaning solution that contains antifreeze components to keep it from freezing and the purchase of new wipers may be necessary.
- Roadside assistance: AAA members can call for a roadside rescue at 1-800-AAA-HELP. Check the expiration date of your AAA card to make sure your membership is valid.
- Brakes: Checking for signs of wear on the brake pads and discs and all-wheel drive functions. The wiper fluid should also be refilled
- Emergency kit: Assemble an Emergency Preparedness Kit: Pack a winter specific supplies kit that includes a warm coat, hat, mittens or gloves and water resistant boots, plus extra blankets and very warm clothes for each member of the family. It’s good to have sand or non-clumping cat litter to help make walkways or steps less slippery. Also, make sure you have a first aid kit and a supply of essential drugs, canned food and a can opener, bottled water, flashlights and a battery-powered radio with extra batteries in it. your home in the event of a power failure.
- Passengers: Make sure everyone has their seat belts on and give full attention to the road.
- Distance: Do not follow other vehicles too closely. Sudden stops are difficult on snow-covered roads. Do not use cruise control when driving in winter.
- Plows: Do not pass the snow plows. Give them space to avoid being bombarded with salt
- Frost alert: Ramps, bridges and viaducts freeze before roads.
- If you find yourself blocked:
- Stay in the vehicle and wait for help. Do not leave the vehicle to seek assistance unless the assistance is visible within 100 yards (91 meters). You can quickly become disoriented and confused in blowing snow.
- Display a fault sign to indicate that you need help. Hang a brightly colored cloth (preferably red) over the radio antenna and lift the hood once the snow has stopped falling.
- Run the engine every now and then to keep warm. Start the engine for about 10 minutes every hour (or five minutes every half hour). Running the engine for short periods of time reduces the risk of carbon monoxide poisoning and saves fuel. Use the heater while the engine is running. Keep the exhaust pipe free of snow and slightly open a downwind window for ventilation.
- Leave the dome light on when the engine is running so that it is visible.
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Tips for keeping your home safe
- Hoses: Turn off the water in outdoor taps to reduce the risk of freezing
- The Windows: Caulk and cut doors and window sills to keep cold air out. Install storm windows or cover windows with plastic from the inside to provide an extra layer of insulation to keep cold air out.
- Heat: Make sure you have enough heating fuel on hand. Save fuel. Winter storms can last for several days, placing high demands on electricity, gas and other fuel distribution systems (fuel oil, propane, etc.).
- Stay indoors: Wear warm clothes. Loose, light and warm layers of clothing will keep you warmer than a bulky sweater. If you are too hot, take off the diapers to avoid sweating; if you’re cold, add layers.
- Well-being of others: Check with relatives, neighbors and friends, especially if they are elderly or live alone.
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Tips for being outdoors
- Clothes: Wear layered clothing, mittens or gloves, and a hat. Outer garments should be tightly woven and water repellent. Mittens or gloves and a hat will prevent loss of body heat.
- Breathing: Cover your mouth to protect your lungs from very cold air. Avoid breathing deeply; minimize talking.
- Watch for signs of hypothermia and frostbite.
- Keep dry: Change wet clothes frequently to avoid loss of body heat. Wet clothing loses much of its insulating value and quickly transfers heat away from the body.
- Stay loose: Stretch before you go out. If you are going out to shovel snow, do some stretching exercises to warm up your body. This will reduce your risk of muscle injury.
- Take it easy: Avoid excessive exertion, such as shoveling heavy snow, pushing a vehicle, or walking in heavy snow. The tension of the cold and hard work can cause a heart attack. Sweating can cause chills and hypothermia.
- Market: Walk carefully on snowy and icy sidewalks. Slips and falls frequently occur in winter, causing painful and sometimes disabling injuries.
- Conduct: If you have to go out during a winter storm, use public transportation if possible. About 70 percent of winter ice and snow deaths occur in automobiles.
Doug Stewart is a digital content producer at FOX61 News. He can be contacted at [email protected].
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