The holidays are here again, and that means biting cold and snow for many places in North America and the globe. There always seem to be accidents and fatalities during the winter months, from cars veering off the road to people getting lost in a snowstorm. If you need to get out-and-about when the weather turns south, here are a few tips on how to stay safe:
Check your Vehicle
Whether you’re driving a car or a snowmobile, always give it a thorough inspection. If you’re using a car, check if your wipers are frozen and stuck on the windshield because you can rip the rubber off when it turns on. Don’t use hot water to remove the ice because the temperature difference can crack or deform whatever it is you’re clearing. Use de-icing fluid or a scraper.
Make sure you clear out all the snow, especially on all your lights, hood, windshields, mirrors and exhaust pipe. Let the engine run for a few minutes so it can heat up to optimum levels. Check your batteries. If it takes a long time to start, have your batteries checked.
When using a snowmobile, the same rules apply. Check your tracks. If you notice any missing studs, get in touch with the nearest manufacturer of replacement snowmobile tracks and order a replacement.
Bring a First Aid Kit and Survival Pack
Don’t leave home without a first aid kit and a survival pack in your vehicle. You should carry the basics such as bandages, antiseptic, iodine tablets and medicine. Your pack should include extra clothing, flares, a small shovel, a bag of sand or cat litter, chains, Para-cord, a knife or multi-tool and weatherproof matches. You should also bring food and water that will last for three days just in case something happens.
Make sure your mobile phone is fully charged and have a backup (a burner would work) just In case your main unit runs out of juice or loses coverage. If you have access to a portable CB radio, take one with you as well. The chains and para-cord are useful in tough situations where you need to secure your vehicle or hoist something up. Use cat litter or sand when your tires are stuck in the snow.
Don’t Forget Your Layers
Layering your clothes is important to maintain your core temperature, avoid hypothermia and keep frostbite from taking your small extremities. Avoid wearing cotton because the fabric is not good at insulation. It also keeps moisture from escaping and stays wet when it gets wet, which will leave you cold and freezing. Opt for wool or thermal fabric when you can. Have at least four layers on you at all times, and add more when you can. It will be easier to remove once you heat up, versus not having any when you start to freeze.
Finish off your clothing with a waterproof outer layer if you intend to go walking in the snow. If you’re going to take your bike, you would need a waterproof and windproof outer shell to shield you from the cold. Don’t forget to cover your head and fingers. You’ll feel colder when these aren’t sufficiently covered up because heat will escape faster, especially from your head, and your fingers might get frostbite.
Stay Home when you can
When all you see is white and the forecast looks dreary, just make yourself a mug of hot chocolate and stay indoors. If it’s not that important to go out, opt to stay home and wait for the weather to clear. If you really need to go out and drive, wait for the snowplows and sanding trucks to clear the main roads before you do. Avoid roads side streets that haven’t been cleared and watch out for black ice. Black ice is dangerous because it’s slick and invisible, and it usually happens under bridges and near bodies of water. This will make your drive safer.
Winter can be a lot of fun, but it can also turn into a nightmare when the weather turns sour. If you need to go out, always be prepared for anything. Leave your car and take public transportation instead when you can. Good luck out there, and stay safe!