Lapland Travel Insurance


Ski and Winter Sports Cover
0800 652 9944
Travel Insurance Direct

Winter Driving

Here in the UK, we are not used to the rigours of driving in the snow or on icy roads. Just take a look at the news following just a few centimetres snowfall and you will hear about motorways grinding to a halt and rush hour chaos in towns and cities. Compare this to countries such as Norway and Switzerland where driving in the snow is second nature.

 

It is vital therefore that we prepare ourselves before venturing out in these wintry conditions while behind the wheel. It is difficult to prepare yourself for such driving - the best way would be to book some time on a skid pan. Nothing beats experience though so simply take your time and drive with extra care.

 

Preparing your car is equally important, so here are some tips:

 

Before you leave

 

Have a mechanic check the following items on your car.

  • Battery
  • Antifreeze
  • Wipers and windshield washer fluid
  • Ignition system
  • Thermostat
  • Lights
  • Flashing hazard lights
  • Exhaust system
  • Heater
  • Brakes
  • Defroster
  • Oil level (if necessary, replace existing oil with a winter grade oil or the SAE 10w/30 weight variety)

 

 

CHECK YOUR TYRES

Make sure the tyres have adequate tread and if possible fit winter tyres. All-weather radials are usually adequate for most winter conditions. However, some jurisdictions require that to drive on their roads, vehicles must be equipped with chains or snow tires with studs.

 

Keep a windshield scraper and small broom for ice and snow removal. Maintain at least a half tank of gas during the winter season. Plan long trips carefully.

 

Listen to the radio or call the state highway patrol for the latest road conditions. Always travel during daylight and, if possible, take at least one other person. If you must go out during a winter storm, use public transportation. Dress warmly.

Wear layers of loose-fitting, layered, lightweight clothing. Carry food and water.

 

Store a supply of high energy "munchies" and several bottles of water. Contact your local emergency management office or American Red Cross chapter for more information on winter driving. Winter Car Kit


Keep these items in your car:


  • Flashlights with extra batteries
  • First aid kit with pocket knife
  • Necessary medications
  • Several blankets
  • Sleeping bags
  • Extra newspapers for insulation
  • Plastic bags (for sanitation)
  • Matches
  • Extra set of mittens, socks, and a wool cap
  • Rain gear and extra clothes
  • Small sack of sand for generating traction under wheels
  • Small shovel
  • Small tools (pliers, wrench, screwdriver)
  • Booster cables
  • Set of tire chains or traction mats
  • Cards, games, and puzzles
  • Brightly coloured cloth to use as a flag
  • Canned fruit and nuts
  • Non electric can opener
  • Bottled water

 

DURING A BLIZZARD

 

If you are trapped in your car...

 

  • Stay in the car.
    Do not leave the car to search for assistance unless help is visible within 100 yards. You may become disoriented and lost is blowing and drifting snow. Display a trouble sign.
     
  • Hang a brightly coloured cloth on the radio antenna and raise the hood. Occasionally run engine to keep warm.
     
  • Turn on the car's engine for about 10 minutes each hour. Run the heater when the car is running. Also, turn on the car's dome light when the car is running. Beware of carbon monoxide poisoning. Keep the exhaust pipe clear of snow, and open a downwind window slightly for ventilation. Watch for signs of frostbite and hypothermia. Do minor exercises to keep up circulation. Clap hands and move arms and legs occasionally. Try not to stay in one position for too long. If more than one person is in the car, take turns sleeping. For warmth, huddle together. Use newspapers, maps, and even the removable car mats for added insulation. Avoid overexertion.
     
  • Cold weather puts an added strain on the heart. Unaccustomed exercise such as shovelling snow or pushing a car can bring on a heart attack or make other medical conditions worse. Be aware of symptoms of dehydration.
     
  • Wind Chill
    "Wind chill" is a calculation of how cold it feels outside when the effects of temperature and wind speed are combined. A strong wind combined with a temperature of just below freezing can have the same effect as a still air temperature about 35 degrees colder.
     
  • Winter Storm Watches and Warnings
    A winter storm watch indicates that severe winter weather may affect your area. A winter storm warning indicates that severe winter weather conditions are definitely on the way. A blizzard warning means that large amounts of falling or blowing snow and sustained winds of at least 35 miles per hour are expected for several hours.
     
  • Frostbite and Hypothermia
    Frostbite is a severe reaction to cold exposure that can permanently damage its victims. A loss of feeling and a white or pale appearance in fingers, toes, or nose and ear lobes are symptoms of frostbite. Hypothermia is a condition brought on when the body temperature drops to less than 90 degrees Fahrenheit. Symptoms of hypothermia include uncontrollable shivering, slow speech, memory lapses, frequent stumbling, drowsiness, and exhaustion. If frostbite or hypothermia is suspected, begin warming the person slowly and seek immediate medical assistance. Warm the person's trunk first. Use your own body heat to help. Arms and legs should be warmed last because stimulation of the limbs can drive cold blood toward the heart and lead to heart failure. Put person in dry clothing and wrap their entire body in a blanket. Never give a frostbite or hypothermia victim something with caffeine in it (like coffee or tea) or alcohol. Caffeine, a stimulant, can cause the heart to beat faster and hasten the effects the cold has on the body. Alcohol, a depressant, can slow the heart and also hasten the ill effects of cold body temperatures.  

 


 


 
 

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