Plan & Prepare
Winter Weather Preparedness: Safety on the Road
If at all possible, AVOID DRIVING during a winter storm. Blowing snow, icy slick spots and fewer daylight hours all create hazards. If you must drive, use this information for a safe trip.
Winterize your vehicle to avoid breakdowns. Have a mechanic check the following:
- Wipers and windshield washer fluid
- Ignition system
- Exhaust system
- Flashing hazard lights
- Oil level
- Tires and air pressure. Consider getting snow tires or chains.
Before You Leave
- Remember to create your Emergency Kit and Emergency Action Plan, and know which radio or TV stations you will listen to for emergency watches, warnings and instructions. Go to the NJOEM Basic Preparedness page for details. Bring your kit with you on the road.
- Also bring: Road maps, a cell phone, a shovel, windshield
scraper, tow rope, booster cables, and a brightly colored cloth
to use as a distress signal. Include a bag of sand or non-clumping
cat litter to place under tires if stuck in the snow.
- Check for current road conditions here, with NJDOT, or by calling these numbers.
- Tell someone that you are taking a trip, where you are
going, the routes you will travel and when you expect to return.
When you reach your destination, call to report you have arrived.
- Before leaving town, fill your gas tank. While traveling, stop frequently to refill your tank.
On The Road
- ALWAYS buckle your seat belt!
- BRAKE PROPERLY to avoid skidding. If driving on snow or ice, start slowly and brake gently. Begin braking early when you come to an intersection.
- IF YOU START TO SLIDE : ease off the gas pedal or brakes. Steer into the direction of the skid until you regain traction, then straighten your vehicle. If you have antilock brakes, apply steady pressure.
- Visibility and speed:
- In fog, drive with headlights set on dim or use fog lights.
- In rain, fog, snow or sleet, stay within the limits of your vision. If it is too difficult to see, pull off the road and stop.
- Drive slowly and increase your following distance . Your speed should adjust for conditions and match the flow of traffic.
- Watch for slick spots. Be physically and mentally prepared to react.
- Other vehicles :
- NEVER TRY TO PASS A VEHICLE IN BLOWING SNOW as there may be vehicles ahead you cannot see.
- Be alert for snowplows. When a plow is coming toward you, allow plenty of room for it to pass. Its blade may cross the centerline. Allow extra distance between your vehicle and service vehicles as they may be spreading salt.
- Be alert when you approach a cloud of snow that obscures the road, especially on passing lanes of interstates or freeways. A snow plow may be ahead clearing the lane or preparing to turn around.
- Be careful after any minor accident. If you are bumped
from behind and do not feel comfortable exiting your vehicle,
motion to the other driver and drive to the nearest safe place
to stop, such as a 24-hour store.
- Be prepared to turn back and seek shelter if conditions become threatening.
If You Become Stranded
- If you break down, pull as far off the road as possible. Your greatest threat at this point is that of being hit by passing cars.
- Stay in the car. You may become disoriented and lost while
wandering in a snowstorm.
- If you have a cell phone, call for help.
- Display a trouble sign. Attach a brightly colored cloth
to your car's antenna.
- Run the engine occasionally, to keep warm. Turn on the engine for 10 minutes each hour. Run the heater during this time.
- Beware of carbon monoxide poisoning. Clear snow away from the exhaust pipe and open a downwind window slightly for ventilation.
- If it is dark, turn on your vehicle's interior light to make it easier for rescuers to find you.
- Avoid overexertion . Cold weather puts added strain on the heart. Shoveling snow or pushing the car in freezing temperatures can cause a heart attack or make other medical conditions worse.
- Watch for signs of HYPOTHERMIA or FROSTBITE.
- Symptoms of HYPOTHERMIA include uncontrollable shivering, memory lapses and drowsiness.
- Symptoms of FROSTBITE include numb or pale fingers, toes, nose and ears.
- Warm the torso area first and work outward , finishing with the extremities. Use a blanket. Occasionally moving arms and legs will stimulate circulation.