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Preparing for Winter Travel

Tuesday November 27, 2018

Getting around in the winter can be downright difficult when faced with icy roads, snowy views and a less than prepared vehicle.

Jim Cook, Emergency Preparedness Coordinator at the Branch-Hillsdale-St. Joseph Community Health Agency states, “Be prepared this winter by using this list to prepare your vehicle and the passengers in it before you go out in the snow”. The Branch-Hillsdale-St. Joseph Community Health Agency offers the following tips to help you prepare for winter travel.

What’s a “Winter Prepared” vehicle?

1. Take a look at your tires.
Do they have good tread? Most vehicles are equipped with radial tires which have an all-season tread and are quite suitable for winter use. Keep tires properly inflated and inspect the treadwear indicators regularly to know when tires need to be replaced. You can learn more about tire safety at the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s website. visit site

2. Install new windshield wipers.
When snow and ice buildup on the windshields, wiper blades get heavily abused. Starting the winter season with new blades ensures that your vision will not be compromised because of worn out wipers. Also, make sure the washer solvent is filled. It is likely you will be using more solvent during the winter months than in summer. It is a good idea to keep a spare gallon of solvent handy in the trunk of the car; it’s not likely to freeze and it will be available should the washer nozzles freeze.

3. Have belts and hoses inspected.
Have a mechanic inspect belts and hoses under the hood to make sure they will survive the torture of another Michigan winter.

4. Check the anti-freeze levels.
While under the hood, be sure check to see if anti-freeze levels are adequate. Your anti-freeze (coolant) should be fresh and at a level that can withstand Michigan temperatures, which can fall well below zero.

5. Have adequate supplies on hand.
Keep a blanket, an ice scraper/brush, and a small stash of granola bars, crackers, or other emergency food supplies stashed in the car. While it’s not recommend that you keep water bottles in a vehicle (they may freeze and break) it is always good to take an extra bottle of water with you on every trip, even if it is just to the store.

6. Make sure your vehicle maintains at least a half tank of gas.
When your vehicle idles in the winter it may expend more fuel than during other times of the year.

7. Make sure that your cell phone is always charged.
Keep a car charger in your vehicle; even if your phone’s battery is dead it can use the energy from your car battery to make an emergency call. All cell phones will dial 9-1-1 free of charge. You may also want to keep the number of a local tow service stored in your phone just for an emergency.

Make sure everyone IN the vehicle is “Winter Prepared” too:

1. Always dress appropriately!
If your social schedule requires stylish shoes and evening attire, make sure you have a good winter coat, boots, gloves and a hat in the car. Even for a quick trip to town, it is important to have a coat and good footwear available. Keep a bag full of these items in your trunk and leave them there for when you might need them. Pack similar bags for others that regularly ride in the car with you.

2. Stay hydrated.
Lack of hydration along with cold temperatures can bring on hypothermia or shock much quicker. Keep your water bottle full and available.

3. Have a “trip plan.”
Make sure someone knows you are going out, and when you expect to be back.

4. If I am stranded should I walk to get help?
While it might be tempting to go down the road or to the nearest gas station, it is best to stay with your vehicle until help arrives. If you are stranded: