MEMA issues tips to ensure safe winter driving

FRAMINGHAM — The Massachusetts Emergency Management Agency is warning residents to prepare for another New England winter, offering a list of automobile safety tips and a list of items to be included in a winter emergency car kit.

“Since approximately 70 percent of winter deaths related to snow and ice occur in automobiles, now is the proper time for individuals and families to take the necessary steps to ensure their safety on the roads during the upcoming winter season,” said MEMA Director Kurt Schwartz. “Winter weather can present challenges that can be made easier with some basic planning.”

Automobile safety tips

∎  Have a well-stocked emergency car kit.

∎  Keep your gas tank at least half-full.

∎  Install good winter tires with adequate tread and pressure.

∎  Keep a windshield scraper and small broom for ice and snow removal. Keep all windows clear of snow and ice and keep your headlights and taillights clear, as well.

∎  Check your antifreeze, battery, windshield wipers and wiper fluid.

∎  Slow down. Many times hazards like black ice are not seen until it is too late. Remember bridges and overpasses can freeze up sooner than roadways.

∎  Be extra alert. Snowdrifts can hide children or other vehicles.

∎  Travel during daylight hours, and if possible, take another person with you.

∎  If a blizzard traps you in your car, pull off the highway. Turn on hazard lights and hang a brightly colored distress flag/cloth from your radio antenna or window.

If stranded:

∎  Remain in your vehicle where rescuers are more likely to find you. Do not set out on foot, unless you can see a building close by where you know you can take shelter.

∎  Run the engine and heater about 10 minutes each hour to keep warm. When the engine is running, crack open the window slightly for ventilation. Periodically clear snow from the exhaust pipe.

∎  Exercise to maintain body heat, but avoid overexertion. In extreme cold, use road maps, seat covers and floor mats for insulation. Huddle with passengers.

∎  Take turns sleeping. One person should be awake at all times to look for rescue crews.

∎  Drink fluids to avoid dehydration.

∎  Be careful not to waste battery power. Balance electricity energy needs: the use of lights, heat and radio.

∎  At night, turn on the inside dome light so work crews and rescuers can see you.

∎  After snow stops falling, raise the hood to indicate you need help.

Winter emergency car kit

∎  Flashlight with extra batteries

∎  Charged cell phone/automobile charger

∎  Basic first-aid kit

∎  Necessary medications

∎  Pocket knife

∎  Blankets or sleeping bags

∎  Extra clothes (include rain gear, boots, mittens, socks)

∎  High-calorie, nonperishable foods (dried fruits, nuts, canned food)

∎  Manual can opener

∎  Container of water

∎  Windshield scraper & brush

∎  Fire extinguisher

∎  Shovel

∎  Sand/road salt/cat litter for generating traction

∎  Tire chains or traction mats

∎  Basic tool kit (pliers, wrench, screwdriver)

∎  Tow rope

∎  Battery jumper cables

∎  Road flares/reflectors

∎  Brightly colored cloth to utilize as a flag

∎  Road maps

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