Millions of travelers will take to the highways this week to journey home for the holidays. Weather experts are watching several storm systems which could bring winter conditions to the country, and the American Red Cross wants everyone to know what to do to stay safe if driving in snowy conditions.
The best way to remain safe is to plan your travel so that you arrive at your destination before the storm hits. Watch weather predictions for your entire route so you know what to expect along the way. If you must travel while it’s snowing, make sure you have an emergency preparedness kit in the car. Keep your car's gas tank full for emergency use and to keep the fuel line from freezing. Let someone know your destination, your route and when you expect to arrive. If your car gets stuck along the way, help can be sent along your predetermined route.
If you do get stuck in the snow:
- Stay with the car. Do not try to walk to safety.
- Tie a brightly colored cloth (preferably red) to the antenna for rescuers to see.
- Start the car and use the heater for about 10 minutes every hour. Keep the exhaust pipe clear so fumes won't back up in the car.
- Leave the overhead light on when the engine is running to help rescuers see the vehicle.
- Keep one window away from the blowing wind slightly open to let in air.
- Carry an emergency preparedness kit in the trunk.
- Keep your car's gas tank full for emergency use and to keep the fuel line from freezing.
Even if winter weather isn’t a threat during your holiday travel, there are steps you can take to help make sure you arrive at your destination safely:
- Buckle up, slow down, don’t drive impaired.
- Be well rested and alert.
- Use caution in work zones.
- Give your full attention to the road. Avoid distractions such as cell phones.
- Observe speed limits – driving too fast or too slow can increase your chance of being in a collision.
- Make frequent stops. During long trips, rotate drivers. If you’re too tired to drive, stop and get some rest.
- Be respectful of other motorists and follow the rules of the road.
- Don’t follow another vehicle too closely.
- If you plan on drinking, designate a driver who won’t drink.
- Clean your headlights, taillights, signal lights and windows to help you see, especially at night.
- Turn your headlights on as dusk approaches, or if you are using your windshield wipers due to inclement weather.
- Don’t overdrive your headlights.
- If you have car trouble, pull off the road as far as possible.
For more information on how to remain safe and prepared for emergencies, visit www.redcross.org