Winter Travel Reminders
Ashley Jowett
/ Categories: WELLNESS, 2021

Winter Travel Reminders

Winter weather is upon us, and with it increased risks involved in daily travel as well as long-distance road trips for holiday getaways. Many are not prepared to properly prevent and handle travel accidents. Now is an excellent time to review the steps that can prevent travel mishaps and the appropriate measures to take, should an untimely accident arise.

Keep your car equipped and in good repair. As winter approaches, equip your car with an ice scraper, a snowbrush, jumper cables, and snow tires. Abide by regular maintenance recommendations, and have a mechanic check the car before long trips for any mechanical issues. Also, ensure that the tires are properly inflated, that wipers thoroughly clear the windshield, that fluids are topped off, and that you have plenty of gas.  

Equip your car with a winter first aid kit.  Gathering an emergency kit of items you would need is well worth the time and expense. It would even make a great gift for those people in your life who are tough to buy for. Ensure your car is equipped with a jack and lug wrench to change a tire. Older vehicles do not always have their originally supplied equipment. For emergencies at any time of year, you would likely want to have several other items on hand. Pack a cell phone charger or rechargeable battery pack; a flashlight, hand-cranked or with extra batteries; a first aid kit, including band-aides, adhesive tape, antiseptic wipes, gauze pads, antiseptic ointment, and medical wrap; bottled water; and road flares or reflective triangles.

For winter travel emergencies, include windshield washing fluid, a bag of sand to be used for extra traction, a collapsible snow shovel, emergency blanket, work gloves, safety whistle, and hand warmers. Those who are traveling outside cell reception, could also include a car fire extinguisher; tire gauge; a multi-tool; baby wipes; duct tape; blankets; non-perishable, high-energy foods, like energy bars or trail mix; a battery-powered radio; matches in a water-proof container; cord and scissors; and a compass.

Know your route. Plan your route in advance. Be sure to prepare with both electronic means of navigation and paper directions, and let a friend or family member know which way you intend to go and when you expect to arrive. Check in with them once you get there.   

Check the conditions. Pay attention to the weather forecast for the time you will be traveling. Also, ensure that you, yourself, are in good health. Viral illnesses, like the flu or COVID-19, can slow response times significantly. If you are feeling unwell or the weather looks treacherous, cancel the trip.

Dress for the worst. Be sure to have clothes that would protect you from the cold, if your car could no longer be used as a source of heat or if you had to be outside for a while. Also have an extra pair of clothes to change into, should the ones you are wearing become wet. Wear or carry boots, a hat, warm gloves, scarf, and coat.

Leave extra time. Give yourself more time for travel. You may need to slow your speed and increase following distance. Do not be in a rush. Budget time to brush off car entirely, including the roof, bumpers, and all of the lights. Snow can slide off the roof of the car and impair visibility for you and other drivers. Clean the windshield and wipers of all snow and ice.

In case of an accident, leave your car only to place flares or reflective triangles at the front and rear. Don’t try to push your vehicle out of the snow. Make sure the exhaust pipe is free of snow, mud, or other objects, and keep the car running with the heat on, if possible. Call for help.

While we can’t prevent every instance of trouble, we can be prudent and prepare in ways that will improve our ability to keep ourselves and our passengers safe.

Crystal Labbe-Hasty, PA-C, is a physician assistant at SVMC ExpressCare in Bennington. It is part of Southwestern Vermont Medical Center and Southwestern Vermont Health Care.  

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