Are you and your car ready for the ice and snow?

Take time to prepare your vehicle for winter!

Review winter vehicle safety before the snow starts falling. Photo credit: Pixabay.

Review winter vehicle safety before the snow starts falling. Photo credit: Pixabay.

With the winter weather looming, now is a good time for parents to review their winter vehicle safety. Even as safety features such as airbags have advanced, car crashes remain the leading cause of accidental death and injury for toddlers, children and adults ages two through 44. Michigan State University Extension recommends you take time today to review these four winter vehicle safety tips before the snow starts flying!

  1. Winterize your vehicle. Get a tune-up, fill your windshield washer fluid with stronger fluid designed to withstand winter temperatures without freezin and, check your tire pressure and battery levels. Change tires to snow tires or all-weather tires as needed. The National Safety Council also recommends checking the following items before winter: heater and windshield defroster, battery, brakes, brake fluid, ignition system, lights and emergency flashers, tires, exhaust, fuel, oil, radiator and power steering fluid. Keep your gas tank full or near full at all times so you can run the heater in the event that you are stranded.
  2. Pack a winter emergency kit for your vehicle. Emergency situations can, and do, happen at any time. Your vehicle should be prepared with an emergency kit that always remains in the car. It is recommended your kit contain the following: a working flashlight and extra batteries, road flares, a first aid kit, a properly inflated spare tire, awheel wrench and jack for your vehicle, tow chains or straps, jumper cables, blanket(s), a change of warm clothes, hat and gloves, a bag of salt, sand or non-clumping kitty litter for traction, a compass, extra washer fluid, a snow/ice scraper, a shovel, non-perishable foods such as canned nuts or dried fruits and matches stored in a waterproof container. Ready.gov provides a good checklist that can be found online.
  3. Have your children’s car seats checked. Studies have consistently showed that more than 80 percent of children’s car seats are installed or used incorrectly. Find a certified child passenger safety technician near you by utilizing the National Highway Traffic Association’s Child Car Seat Inspection Location tool. While it may be very tempting to bundle up your child in their car seat, experts recommend removing coats, snow suits and other heavy winter gear before buckling up your child in their car seat. Car seat harnesses are designed to be snugly fitted against a child’s body and a bulky coat or snowsuit interferes with proper fit.
  4. Review winter driving tips. Winter driving can quickly become very challenging, as snow and ice interfere with your vision and your vehicles ability to gain traction. The Michigan Department of Transportation recommends drivers take the following steps to ensure safety on the roads this winter:
    • Always wear a safety belt when in a vehicle and be sure children are properly buckled as well.
    • Slow down when visibility is low and/or when road conditions are snowy or icy – in ice and snow take it slow!
    • Give snowplow drivers plenty of room to plow and salt/sand the roads – snowplows need room to groom!
    • Be extra cautious on bridges because they can be icy even when roadways are dry.
    • Accelerate and brake slowly and avoid abrupt steering maneuvers, especially when merging or changing lanes.
    • Don’t pump anti-lock brakes.
    • Remember, don’t text and talk while driving.

Although it’s hard to believe winter weather is nearly upon us again, it is important to take steps to prepare for the first big snow ahead of time! When the first polar vortex swoops in from the north, you will be glad to be prepared!

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