Category Archives: Vehicle

Travel Safety Checklist

Safety is a constant concern for almost everyone, especially with the current state of the world. There are places though where most people feel more comfortable. Being at home or at a loved ones house for example. It seems safe to say that a good percentage of people feel most vulnerable while they are traveling or in a foreign environment (which usually goes hand in hand with traveling). I am no different myself and have as a result of this insecurity, developed some practices that have served me well to ensure my safety as I travel. These practices have come from instinct, experience, my military training, and others from personal research that I have conducted. They have been compiled neatly into a checklist so that hopefully they can be of help to you all as well.

 Prior To Traveling:

  • Clean out your wallet. Remove any items not needed for travel and those that could be used for identity fraud.
  • Ensure that you have the correct directions and check local road conditions if driving.
  • Double check reservation information if flying, going by train, or other travel means.
  • Check the weather at all locations where you will be traveling for the duration of your travel to ensure that you have all of the appropriate clothing that you will need.
  • Leave a copy of your itinerary at home. Include your travel arrangements and hotels where you will be staying.
  • Check your person and carry-on bag for anything that might be construed as a weapon. For an updated list of prohibited items see www.tsa.dot.gov.
  • Have a current emergency contact form left with your supervisor if the travel is work related.
  • Arrange to make regularly scheduled check-in calls at home and at work as appropriate.
  • Make sure your passport is current and not too close to the expiration date.
  • If you are going overseas: Photocopy the contents of your wallet, passport and visa. Include passport-sized photos of yourself in case you need to have it replaced. Make a list of the overseas contact numbers for your credit card company. Make a list of all embassies. Keep copies in your carry-on bag and in your checked luggage.
  • Make sure your medical coverage is effective in all areas that you will travel to including overseas. Bring all prescription medication in original containers. Bring copies of any prescriptions you need, this includes glasses or contacts.
General Recommendations:
  • Keep a low profile. Dress and behave conservatively.
  • Do not wear clothing with American logos.
  •  Keep $30-50 and one credit card in your wallet or purse when traveling. Store the balance of your credit cards, traveler checks, and cash in a money belt or similar item worn under your clothes.
  • Clothing that exhibits expensive labels or brand markings has the potential to make you the target of an assault or robbery.
  • If you have military or distinctive identification that could make you a target do not carry it in your wallet.
  • Lock all luggage. Do not place anything on your luggage identifying your nationality.
  • Vary regular travel routes by changing travel times or using different roads.
  • Avoid areas where you are likely to be victimized. These include crowded mass transit stations, tourist attractions, market places, festivals and marginal areas of cities or towns.
  • Don’t use short cuts, narrow alleys or poorly lit streets. Try not to travel alone at night.
  • Avoid public demonstrations and other civil disturbances.
  • Do not discuss travel plans or other personal matters with strangers. If it can be avoided, don’t discuss such matters in public either.
  • Beware of strangers who approach you, offering bargains or to be your guide.
  • Move with purposeful strides. If you are lost, act as if you know where you are going. When possible, ask directions only from individuals in authority. Generally, families or women with children are the safest persons to ask for directions.
  • Know how to use local pay telephones and have change to do so. Consider cell phone service that works in the country you are traveling in. Obtain local /international calling cards.
  • Learn enough of the local language so you can communicate your need for help, the police, or a doctor. Carry a list of emergency telephone numbers you may need: police, fire, your hotel, and the nearest U.S. embassy or consulate.
  • If you are confronted, don’t fight back. Give up your valuables. Fight only as a last resort.
  • In nightclubs and restaurants locate the functional emergency exits before any emergency.

Airline Travel Safety:

  • Select an airline with a good safety record. Your travel agent will have this information.
  • Try to schedule direct flights.
  • Wide-bodied aircraft typically are the preferred airframe to travel on.
  • Arrive at the airport early enough to clear security, at least 3 hours prior to flight time for international flights and 2 hours prior to departure for domestic flights.
  • Verify that ticket or gate agents have taken the correct coupons of any paper tickets and returned all coupons that you will need for later flights.
  • Verify you have received a baggage tag for each piece of checked luggage and that the tag matches your destination.
  • Keep your passport and any paper airline ticket in a zippered pouch of your carry on bag. Always return them to the same place.
  • Clear the check-in area as quickly as possible and move into the secure part of the terminal.
  • Report any suspicious activity to airport security or flight attendants immediately.
  • Watch your belongings as they go through the X-ray screening machine. Make sure you watch the bags as they enter the machine and then pass through the metal detector in time to pick up your bag as it clears the machine. If the person in front of you stops or fails the screening test, do not allow your belongings to go through until the path to retrieve them on the other side is clear. Most laptops and purses are stolen at security by teams of thieves.
  • Place carry-on bags in overhead storage across the aisle from your seat so you can see if anyone is trying to open them during the flight.
  • To speed response time in the event of emergency and to avoid the possibility of DVT (Deep Vein Thrombosis) use of sleep aids and alcohol should be avoided.
  • Traveling in natural fiber clothing is more comfortable for some and tends to be more fire resistant.
  • Upon arrival use hotel provided transportation where possible. If you take a cab, select your own taxicabs at random. Don’t take a vehicle that is not clearly identified as a taxi. Compare the face of the driver with the one posted on his or her license. Once seated in the cab insure doors are locked, position yourself so you can see the drivers eyes in the rearview mirror should they fall asleep while driving.
  • If you are being met at an airport make sure the placard used displays a number of your selection and not your name. When asked, the person holding the number sign must be able to tell you your name. Kidnappers copy names on signs and stand closer to the entrance than legitimate drivers.
Hotel Safety:
  • Stay at reputable hotels and motels. The large, western Hotel chains usually have adequate security. Select a hotel that allows you to take different routes to your destination if possible.
  • Ask for a second story room at a motel. Ground floor rooms are more susceptible to break in. Staying on the second floor also makes it easier to escape if there is a fire. Try to avoid staying above the third floor in any country without a modern and well-equipped fire department. Never stay above the seventh floor.
  • Check the windows and doors to make sure they are secure including the lock on the door of an adjoining room.
  • Read the fire safety instructions in your hotel room. Know how to report a fire. Be sure you know where the nearest fire exits and alternate exits are located. Count the doors between your room and the nearest exit. Do the same for an alternate exit. This will allow you to reach the exit if the corridor is dark or filled with smoke. Consider traveling with an emergency escape hood.
  • Don’t open the door to anybody unless you are familiar with him or her. Talk through the door without opening it. Hotel door chains are practically useless.
  • Keep your hotel door locked at all times. Meet visitors in the lobby.
  • Do not leave money and other valuables in your hotel room while you are out. Use the hotel safe. Do not leave business documents, especially proprietary material, in the room unsecured.
  • Let someone know when you expect to return if you are out late at night.
  • If you are alone, do not get on an elevator if there is a suspicious-looking person inside.

Traveling At Your Destination:

-By Car:

  • When renting a car, choose a type commonly available locally. Choose a model with a good safety rating. If possible, ask that markings that identify it as a rental car be removed.
  • Get the latest model available, make certain it is in good repair and that it has emergency roadside equipment. Always wear seatbelts.
  • Pick a car with power locks and windows.
  • Select a car with an air conditioner. This will allow you to drive with windows closed. This prevents items from being snatched from inside your car.
  • Check the car every time that you do not have direct eye contact with the car.
  • Try not to park your car on the street overnight. If the hotel or municipality does not have a parking garage or other secure area, select a well-lit area.
  • Keep all doors locked while driving.
  • Don’t leave valuables on your seats while driving or when you park.
  • Travel using different roads.
-Choosing The Best Road:
  • Drive on a main road.
  • Travel roads with more than one lane.
  • Prefer roads that are close to a police station.
  • When driving use the rearview mirror to detect any cars that may be following you.
  • Be aware of the location of safe-havens such as police stations, hotels, and hospitals.
  • Pay attention to any unusual objects on the road (road blocks, cars stopped on side roads).
  • As much as possible, avoid driving at night.
  • Never pick up hitchhikers.
  • Don’t exit your car if there are suspicious looking individuals in the area.
-Public Transportation:
  • Check the Consular Information Sheets to find out if a country has a pattern of tourists being targeted by criminals on public transportation.
  • Only take taxis clearly identified with official markings. Beware of unmarked cabs. Chose them yourself and at random.
  • Avoid mass transportation at night. Spend the extra money and take a taxi.
  • Robbery of passengers on trains along popular tourists routes is a serious problem. It is more common on overnight trains.
  • Do not accept food or drink from strangers. It may be drugged.
  • On overnight trains, lock the sleeping compartment.
  • Do not be afraid to inform the conductor or other official if you feel threatened. Police are frequently assigned to ride trains that have been targeted before.
  • The same type of criminal activity found on trains can be found on public buses used by tourists.
How to Handle Money Safely:
  • Separate your cash into two portions. Keep some of the money in your wallet and the rest in a belt or separate place on your person. If you have a purse carry it in front of you, over your shoulder across your chest, hold on to it with your hands and walk with the bag away from the curb to avoid drive-by purse-snatchers.
  • Beware of pickpockets. Anyone can be a pickpocket. Generally, a pickpocket will use an accomplice to distract you while your pocket is being picked. A common ploy is to have an accomplice bump into you but anything that will distract you will also be effective.
  • To avoid carrying large amounts of cash, change your travelers’ checks or withdraw money from  an ATM, as you need currency.
  • Do not flash large amounts of money when paying a bill. Make sure your credit card is returned to you after each transaction. Check periodically for unauthorized charges.
  • Deal only with authorized agents when you exchange money. Do not change money on the black market.
  • If your possessions are lost or stolen, report the loss immediately to the local police. Keep a copy of the police report for insurance claims. After reporting missing items to the police, report the loss or theft of credit cards, traveler’s checks, airline tickets and your passport. This will be much easier to accomplish if you have remembered to photocopy the contents of your wallet and if you have written down the overseas contact numbers of your credit card companies. Contact the local embassy or consulate to replace your passport.
Travel to High-Risk Areas: 
 
If you must travel in an area where there has been a history of terrorist attacks or kidnapping or that is the subject of a State Department traveler alert, be sure you:
  1. Register with the U.S. embassy or consulate upon arrival.
  2. Do not discuss personal matters and your itinerary with casual acquaintances or strangers.
  3. Leave no personal or business papers in your hotel room.
  4. Watch for people or vehicles following you.
  5. Remember the golden rule of counter-surveillance; if you see the same person or vehicle two times, separated by time and distance, you are probably being followed. If it happens three times, you are being followed. Contact the local police and the nearest embassy or consulate for guidance.
  6. Refuse unexpected packages.
  7. Check for loose wires, packages or other suspicious objects around your car.
  8. Check under the car when you park. Note the presence of any object under your car when you return.
  9. Be sure your vehicle is mechanically sound in case you need to resort to high-speed or evasive driving.
  10. Drive with car windows closed in crowded streets. Bombs can be thrown through open windows and it is easier for an assailant to enter your car if the window is open.
  11. If you are ever in a situation where somebody starts shooting, drop to the floor or get down as low as possible. Do the same if you are in a building and you hear an explosion outside. Often, people will rush to windows after a blast in order to see what happened and are killed as the pressure wave, moving slower than the speed of sound, blows out the windows. Don’t move until you are sure the danger has passed. Take cover behind or under a solid object. If you must move stay as low as possible.
Hijacking/Hostage Situations:
 
Generally speaking, the most dangerous parts of a hijacking or hostage situation are the beginning and, if there is a rescue attempt, the end. Terrorists are typically are most volatile during the initial moments of a hijacking. Make every attempt to remain calm and alert. The following recommendations are from the US Department of State. These recommendations are under review in light of the events of 9/11. For the most part it is recommended that these guidelines be adhered to unless and until it becomes apparent that the hijackers intend to use the aircraft as a weapon. In that event, it is necessary to resist at all costs. I would also add that if the hijackers are only using boxcutters and are outnumbered 40 to 1 by the passengers, that overpowering the hijackers by force is likely to be in order but must be decided by the hostages that are in the situation themselves.
  • Do not resist. Follow their demands and make no sudden or threatening movements. Do not fight or try to escape unless you are certain of being successful.
  • Force yourself to remain calm and prepare yourself mentally, physically and emotionally for the possibility of a long ordeal.
  • Do nothing to bring attention upon yourself. Avoid direct eye contact with the hijackers and do not obviously observe their actions.
  • Initially, do not attempt to use a cell phone to call for help. Later, a cell phone may prove invaluable.
  • Avoid alcoholic beverages. Consume little food and drink.
  • Cooperate with the hijackers. Do not complain or be confrontational.
  • Expect to be interrogated. Answer questions directly but don’t volunteer information or make unnecessary overtures.
  • As the situation becomes less volatile, you can make reasonable requests for personal comforts such as going to the bathroom or getting something to drink.
  • If you are taken hostage for a longer period of time, try to establish a rapport with your captors, avoiding confrontational subjects such as politics in favor of universally understood topics like family.
  • Try to keep your mind active and try to exercise regularly if possible.
  • Eat what they give you, whenever it is given. You have no way of knowing if your food or water will be withheld later on.
  • If you are a religious person, pray earnestly and often. Don’t become despondent. People are looking for you and are trying to get you safely returned.
Remember the key point is to make a potential aggressor’s job more difficult. A serious criminal or terrorist will watch his or her target before attempting his crime / terrorist act. If they see that you are not an easy target, they will most likely move on to someone who is.

While I was putting this post together I recalled a piece from earlier this year that Bryan Black and the gang over at ITS Tactical put together about luggage security that definitely applies here and would be worth your time to check out.

Sources: Global Security Group, Rotary International, ITS Tactical

Friday Survival Scoop

It’s Friday again and here is another batch of some of the tasty tidbits of survival and preparedness that the web had to offer this week. Check out these articles on the state of global food reserves, the pros and cons of popular water storage containers, knife care and maintenance, and signaling considerations for your vehicle emergency kit.

Global Food Reserves Have Reached Their Lowest Level In Almost 40 Years by Michael Snyder on Alt-Market

This article expounds upon the increasing global food crisis and highlights the fact that food consumption throughout the world for six out of the last eleven years has exceeded production. The end state has been the lowest level of global food reserves in almost four decades. Forecasters are also saying that if the trend continues, the world’s food supply is only one event away from global disaster and chaos. There is also a great quote included from the world bank that is eye-opening.

Pros and Cons of Popular Water Storage Containers on Food Storage and Survival

After surveying readers on what storage containers they use for water, Food Storage and Survival compiled the results and now are discussing some of the pros and cons of the different containers. The water storage containers discussed include gallon jugs, water bottles, refilled PETE bottles like 2 liter soda bottles, 5 gallon hard plastic jugs, 30-55 gallon drum, waterbrick, water bladder, and even cover emergency water boxes and pouches. The author also mentions the fact that they live in a “super small” house and lists the combination of water storage containers that they use.

Knife Care and Maintenance by FerFAL on The Modern Survivalist

This is half article and half YouTube video from one of the best known proponents of modern survivalism, Fernando “FerFAL” Aguirre. The title says it all though, knife care and maintenance. A knife is a tool. It is a tool that could save your life some day though so make sure to maintain your knife/knives. For those who are not familiar with FerFAL, he is a native Argentinian and lived through the economic collapse that occurred in 2001 in his home country. This makes him and all of his writings, interviews, videos, and other resources that he had created incredibly valuable because his is a voice of experience.

Signaling Considerations for Your Vehicle Emergency Kit by Bryan Black on ITS Tactical

This is a great piece on some of the different possibilities that are available for signaling in the event of a vehicle emergency. Bryan Black from ITS not only covers some of the options that you may want to keep in your vehicle emergency kit but also recounts some of the requirements that every driver should look at when considering these options. On a side note, if you are not familiar with the work of Bryan Black or ITS Tactical, take a few minutes to look around the site. I am sure that you will find at least a few more interesting and useful tidbits. One of my favorites is Skilcraft – Pen of the U.S. Government.

Did you spot another great preparedness related article this week on the web? Post a link in the comments section and share it with everyone else!

 

Five Essential Components to Winter Driving

October is here and that means a new fiscal year for the federal government. It also means that winter will be upon the vast majority of us sooner as opposed to later. With winter weather comes winter driving and with winter driving comes all the extra dangers that no one misses during the rest of the year. It made me think that it would be a good time to re-post the series that I did last year on winter driving that was inspired by a series of “errors in judgment” when it came to the winter drivers in my local area. 

*Disclaimer – I am in no means a mechanical or driving expert so use the knowledge shared here at your own risk.

The first thing that should be accomplished in preparation for winter driving is to ensure that your vehicle is in a good state of repair and ready for the additional challenges of the extreme temperatures and winter conditions.  If you would prefer to have your vehicle taken to a mechanic for a tune-up, which is not a bad option at all if you can afford it.  If your preference is to check your vehicle out yourself then that is great too.  The thing that matters is that someone takes a look at your vehicle to make sure that it is in good operating condition.

PREPARING YOUR VEHICLE FOR WINTER WEATHER CHECKLIST –

□ Check the brakes for rotor wear, screeching sounds, wobbling, or excessive play in the brake pedal.

□ Check under the hood for loose and/or worn wiring, hoses, and fan belts.

□ Check the high and low beams as well as turn signals for proper operation.

□ Inspect windshield wipers and consider specialty snow wiper blades as an alternative.

□ Check the air filter for cleanliness and/or any obstructions.

Check the battery for clean terminals and tight connections.

□ Inspect vehicle tires for proper air pressure, sidewall wear, and tread depth.

□ Check motor oil, antifreeze, and windshield washer fluid levels.  Also ensure that the fluids used in your vehicle are appropriate for the temperature range that you will be operating in.

□ Check the heating/defrosting system for proper operation.

□ If your vehicle is rear wheel drive then consider placing sand tubes or another form of additional weight in the rear of the vehicle to provide additional traction.

This is by no means an all-inclusive list and I would encourage you to look into the subject further.  What this should do is serve as a starting point and at least give everyone an idea (especially those that may be less mechanically inclined) of where to get started in preparing your vehicle for the winter driving season.

After you or your mechanic has closely inspected your vehicle and it has been deemed roadworthy, plan your trip before you set out.

WHAT TO DO BEFORE YOU GO OUT DRIVING IN WINTER CONDITIONS –

● AAA says it best.  Stay home.  If you really don’t have to go out, don’t.  Even if you can drive well in the snow, not everyone else can.  Don’t tempt fate: If you don’t have somewhere you have to be, watch the snow from indoors.

● If you must go out, try to hit the road only after the snow plows and salt or sand trucks have had the opportunity to clear and treat the roads.

● ALWAYS use your safety belt and make sure that all of your passengers are as well.

● Winter driving familiarization can be accomplished by taking your vehicle to an empty parking lot that is covered in icy and/or snowy and practicing winter driving maneuvers.  This will also give you a feel for how your particular vehicle will react to certain conditions.

● Program emergency contacts into your cell phone that includes roadside assistance and at least three other people who can be contacted for assistance if you need it.

● Use the internet, radio, TV, or your smart phone to check the weather conditions at your destination and along your route before you even leave your departure point.  Allow plenty of time to get to your destination based on the conditions and if there are potential changes forecast than allow additional time to compensate for these additional risks.  Keeping a GPS system as well as a map of the local areas where you are traveling in your vehicle will also mitigate the chances of getting lost.  As great as GPS systems can be, they are not fool-proof, especially when bad weather is present and a map is a great back-up.

● When planning your route during winter months eliminate risky areas such as hills, bridges, high traffic areas, or points where traffic merges and vehicles could slide into each other.

● Wear appropriate, comfortable clothing for your trip and remember to dress in layers.  You will not need as much clothing while you are in the vehicle but if you needed to get out you want those additional layers handy so that you are able to stay warm.

● Don’t get tired driving to your destination.  If you can, plan to have additional drivers on a long trip.  More than one driver allows for a rotation.  Regardless of the number of drivers that you have make sure that you get plenty of rest prior to driving in winter conditions and make periodic stops to stretch every two to three hours.  If you are making a long trip to avoid being tired leave during the day if possible instead of planning on putting in a full day and then leaving for your trip at night.  Driving during daylight hours also has the benefit of better visibility while also providing the advantage of being found easier if you do end up sliding off the road or getting stranded.

● Make sure that you keep your vehicle’s fuel tank full if possible so that if you do get stranded you have the means to run the vehicle periodically to keep warm.  Ensure that when periodically running the vehicle that the exhaust pipe is clear of obstructions.

● Clear all vehicle windows, mirrors, lights (headlights/brake lights/turn signals), and the roof of ice and snow.  Completely clear the windows.  Don’t just make the little square on the windshield that makes your car look like some sort of homemade hillbilly tank.

The vehicles good and the trip has been planned, now make sure that you know how to handle operating a vehicle in hazardous conditions and what to do if you get stranded.  This is another area where I will try to share what I know and could gather but I would again urge you to look for more information so that you feel the most comfortable with your own abilities.  Some, regardless of how much reading is done, may need to seek additional driving instruction.  This is ok.  What is important is that you realize the limit of your abilities and seek improvement if you need to.

OPERATING A VEHICLE IN POTENTIALLY HAZARDOUS CONDITIONS –

» Remember the basic rule. Law enforcement officers can cite you for driving dangerously even if you are traveling at the posted speed limit if the weather and road conditions dictate that vehicles should be operated at lesser speeds.

» Keep an eye out for other vehicles and attempt to anticipate the actions of the other vehicles driver. You will have less time to react on rain, snow, or ice so leave additional room between you and other vehicles.

» Make sure that you are always visible to other vehicles by driving with your lights on. Use low beams at all times. Using high beams during winter driving conditions is not more effective and can make driving more difficult because of impaired vision as a result of reflecting light.

» The slippery conditions created by ice and snow add additional time and distance to what you normally would need to stop. Allow for extra braking distance and time when ice and/or snow is/are on the roads. These same slippery conditions make it necessary to slow down the speed of your vehicle, make yours starts deliberate and smooth, and make turns slowly. When braking also remember to lightly apply the brakes and never “slam on” the brakes, doing so could cause the vehicle brakes to lock up or put the vehicle into a skid. Conventional brakes can be gently pumped while anti-lock brakes need to have gentle and steady pressure applied to properly brake in slippery conditions.

» If it is possible to avoid stopping all together, then do so. It is much easier to get moving again from a slow roll then from a dead stop. Don’t commit any traffic violations but slowly rolling up to an intersection while waiting for a light to change can make getting through the intersection a lot easier.

» If you start to go into a skid then handle it properly. Keep both of your hands on the wheel. Remember the face of the clock, the left hand goes at ten o’clock and the right hand goes at two o’clock. Steer the vehicle in the direction that you want it to go. It sounds simple because it is and oh yeah, it works.

» Some areas of the roadway such as bridges, overpasses, and seldom traveled roads will freeze before others. These same areas are also the prime areas for the formation of black ice. Look out for spots in the road that look black and shiny; this is possibly black ice which can cause sudden loss of control of your vehicle. If you identify what you think is black ice then slow down, keep your foot off of the brakes, and guide your vehicle through the area keeping both hands on the steering wheel.

» Avoid using cruise control when driving in winter conditions to maintain maximum control of your vehicle.

» Don’t power up hills. Applying extra gas on snow-covered roads just starts your wheels spinning. Try to get a little inertia going before you reach the hill and let that inertia carry you to the top. As you reach the crest of the hill, reduce your speed and proceed downhill as slowly as possible. Don’t stop going up a hill. There’s nothing worse than trying to get moving up a hill on an icy road. Get some inertia going on a flat roadway before you take on the hill. If additional traction is needed on hills consider shifting into a lower gear.

WHAT TO DO IF YOU GET STRANDED –

» The first thing that you should do if you get stranded in your vehicle is attempt to call for help. This can be hard sometimes because of poor cell phone reception. Always keep in mind that sometimes even with a poor cell signal that text messages are able to be sent even when a call can’t be made. This can be a potential work around if you get stranded and need to get help.

» If you are stranded, don’t leave your vehicle unless there is no other option. Every year people are killed because they wander out into winter storms after getting stranded in their cars. Often times their cars are found long before their bodies are. The best thing that you can do is let someone know that you are going somewhere, what the route you are taking is, and when you expect that you will arrive at your destination. This will give anyone that goes looking for you the best chances of finding you soon and alive.

» Keeping a window cracked open is a must. If your vehicle becomes covered in snow it can actually create a seal and ultimately lead to asphyxiation. The window being cracked is also necessary if you are going to use a candle or a canned heat product like Sterno to try to stay warm or prepare food in the vehicle while you are stranded. Maintaining body temperature is imperative to ensure survival if you get stranded in your vehicle in the middle of winter. Running the engine periodically is the best way to heat a vehicle in this scenario. The danger in running the engine is the risk of carbon monoxide leaking into the vehicle especially when a vehicle is stationary as well as potential engine damage caused by running for extended periods of time. To mitigate the chances of asphyxiation and engine damage, only run the vehicle for ten minutes or less per hour and remember to keep the window cracked.

The only thing missing now is a Winter Car Emergency Kit. The list below was designed to be as comprehensive as possible but of course no one person can do it all. If there is something that you see I missed please leave a comment and let me know. Remember that just because you can call for help does not mean that someone will be able to get to you immediately. Having an emergency kit in your vehicle will help ensure your survival as you wait for assistance to arrive.

WINTER CAR EMERGENCY KIT –

□ Properly Inflated Spare Tire (Full Size Spare If Possible), Tire Iron, and Tire Jack

□ Gas Can

□ Compact Shovel

□ Tire Chains (If Permitted by State & Local Laws)

□ Jumper Cables

□ Tow Strap

□ Rock Salt or Cat Litter (Assist w/ Traction)

□ Basic Tool Kit

            – Multi-Tool

            – Adjustable Wrench

            – Phillips Screwdriver

            – Flathead Screwdriver

            – Pliers

            – Needle Nose Pliers

            – Socket Set

            – Wire Brush

            – Razor Knife

            – Electrical Tape

            – Duct Tape

            – Bailing Wire

            – Shop Rags

□ Gas Line Antifreeze

□ Emergency Tire Sealant (Fix-A-Flat)

□ Tire Pressure Gauge

□ Fire Extinguisher

□ Spare Bulbs

□ Spare Fuses

□ Spare Engine Belts, Hoses, Hose Clamps, & Hardware (Screws, Nuts, Bolts, Etc.)

□ Extra Fluids As Needed (Engine Oil, Antifreeze, Power Steering, Windshield Washer, Etc.)

□ Swiss Army Knife

□ Flashlight with Extra Batteries

□ Reflective Triangles or Signal Flares

□ Brightly Colored Cloth (Antenna Signal)

□ Ice Scraper/Snow Brush

□ Compass

□ Road Maps/Atlas

□ Cell Phone Charger

□ Emergency Cash (Quarters & Small Bills, ~ $20)

□ Battery Powered Radio w/ Batteries (AM/FM/Weather)

□ First Aid Kit (Including Life Sustaining Prescription Medication If Needed)

Emergency Candles or Canned Heat

□ Nylon Cord or Rope – 50 Feet (Parachute Cord is Ideal)

□ Two Methods to Start Fire

            – Bic Style Lighter

            – Wood Matches

            – Magnifying Lens

            – BlastMatch (Flint Striker)

            – Magnesium Fire-Starter

□ Tarp or Painters Plastic

□ Extra Clothing

            – Hat

            – Coat

            – Gloves

            – Sweatshirt

            – Shirt

            – Pants

            – Long Underwear

            – Socks

            – Underwear

□ Extra Shoes (Boots Preferred)

□ Poncho

□ Blanket or Sleeping Bag

□ Emergency Blanket

□ Food (Non-Perishable & High-Energy)

            – Backpacking Type Meals

            – MRE’s

            – Energy Bars

            – Nuts

            – Granola

            – Beef Jerky

            – Dried Fruit

            – Canned Goods (Soup, Chili, Etc.)

            – Chocolate

            – Instant Coffee

            – Hot Chocolate Mix

            – Tea Bags

□ Bottled Water (Only about ¾ full to allow for expansion as a result of freezing.)

□ Manual Can Opener

□ Metal Hiker’s Cup (Use to Melt Snow for Water)

□ Water Purification Tablets

□ Toilet Paper

□ Hand Sanitizer

□ Feminine Hygiene Items

□ Toiletry & Hygiene Items (Toothbrush, Toothpaste, Deodorant, Etc.)

□ Pencil/Pen & Paper

□ Whistle (To Signal)

□ Book (Entertainment)

Thanks for taking the time to get smart about winter driving and don’t forget to drive safe!

Sources: National Traffic Safety Institute, American Automobile Association, The Weather Channel

Emergency Contact Information…Never Be Without It!

There is some information, usually referred to as Emergency Contact Information (ECI) or In Case of Emergency (ICE) information, that can be key to resolving an emergency situation quickly. This information can vary from situation to situation depending on the circumstances but for the most part there are a few key pieces that you should have on you at all times. This should not really be for you but for emergency responders or anyone else such as a co-worker or good Samaritan that might be assisting you in the event of an emergency or disaster. My recommendation would be to place this information on a business card size piece of heavy paper or card stock.

Information that should be located on an emergency contact information card includes:

Your Name, Date of Birth, Address and Phone Number

Local Point of Contact #1 – Name, Relationship, Primary Phone Number and Secondary Phone Number + Text Number (If Separate)

Local Point of Contact #2 – Name, Relationship, Primary Phone Number and Secondary Phone Number + Text Number (If Separate)

Local Point of Contact #3 – Name, Relationship, Primary Phone Number and Secondary Phone Number + Text Number (If Separate)

Out-Of-Town Point of Contact – Name, Relationship and Phone Number + Text Number (If Separate)

Name and Phone Number of Physician(s)

Health Insurance Company, Policy Number and Phone Number

List of Health Conditions, Blood Type, Current Medications and Any Allergies

Other Pertinent or Important Information

The best way to keep this information on your person is on a laminated card in your wallet right behind your driver’s license. This way when the fire fighter, EMT, good Samaritan, police officer, etc. pulls out your driver’s license to see who you are, they will also see that you have additional pertinent information that can assist them in helping you. The purpose for having name, address, and phone number on the card as well is because you may not always have your driver’s license with you. If you are a runner, walker, biker, etc. it would be beneficial to keep this emergency contact card on your person in the event that there was an accident. It is unfortunate to think about but people out exercising get hit by cars, become incoherent as a result of heat exhaustion, or even suffer from other environmental injuries. Something as simple as an emergency information card can make a bad situation a little bit better by getting medical professionals the most accurate information about you and your loved ones by your side faster.

In addition to using the emergency contact card for yourself, it is a great idea to put a card with your childs information in their school bag. Also attach a card to your childs car seat in the event you were knocked unconscious in a vehicle wreck so that emergency responders would still be able to get your childs information as quickly as possible.

NOTE: If you are an international traveller this information is especially important to keep with you. In addition to the information that is already listed, international travellers should add the local address where you are staying as well as the country code for the phone numbers where their points of contact can be reached.

Gear Review: POWERDRIVE 100D Inverter

This product received a 4 star rating from The Prepared Ninja!

First of I would like to say that I did not realize how useful a power inverter would be in the car until I had one.  Now I don’t know how I went so long without having it.  I have used the POWERDRIVE 100D to charge and run my laptop, iPhone, kid’s Nintendo DS’s and our iPad in the car to name a few things.  The inverter works great and has never given me any problems.  I routinely use it for work where I will run my computer off of the AC outlet while my iPhone is hooked up to the USB port at the same time without issue.  Now according to the specifications provided by the manufacturer using my laptop alone exceeds the capacity of the inverter but this thing handles it like a champ! 

The premise of the inverter of course it to convert 12-volt DC power from your vehicle’s battery into 110-volt household AC power.  This inverter is rated to handle household AC powered items that are rated up to 100 watts.  The AC outlet can take two prong or three prong AC cords.  One of the great things that I have enjoyed about this particular product as well is that it has a swivel plug that allows the inverter to be adjusted up and down making rather convenient and accommodating to different vehicles and different typed of AC plugs.

The exact model for this inverter is the POWERDRIVE RPPD100D.  It carries a retail price of $24.99.  Found mine on clearance at Pilot for $3.00 though!  It also has some great features including:

-Operating Indicator: Green LED Indicator on top of your inverter will light to indicate power to your inverter.
 
-Current Overload Protection: If the inverter is overloaded, it will shut down to protect itself. To restore normal operation, disconnect the excessive load and turn the unit off and disconnect the plug.
 
-Low Voltage Protection: If the input voltage drops to 10.5V or less, the inverter will shut down to protect the battery. To restore normal operation, return the DC input voltage to at least 12V. The inverter will automatically return to normal operation.
 
-High Voltage Protection: If the DC input voltage rises above 15 volts, the inverter will shut down to protect itself. To restore normal operation, return the DC input voltage to less than 15 volts. The inverter will automatically return to normal operation. (Although the inverter has protection against over-voltage, it may still be damaged if the input voltage were to exceed 16 volts.)
 
-Over Temperature Protection: If the inverters internal temperature rises to 104ºF, the inverter will shut down to protect itself. (Internal inverter temperature can rise due to being operated in a high heat environment or due to the fan or vents being blocked during operation (even in relatively cool outside air). To restore normal operation, turn the unit off and allow it to cool. The inverter will automatically return to normal operation after it has cooled.)
 
-USB Outlet: The USB outlet will supply 5 volts at 500ma to charge and power cell phones, iPods® and other small electronics.
 
-Operating Limits/Power Output: The inverter can deliver 100 watts for about 60 minutes. The inverter must cool for 15 minutes before it can resume operation at 100 watts. (Operating time will vary depending upon the type, capacity charge level of the battery, and the power draw of the AC products you are using. With a normal vehicle battery and a 100 watt load (such as a small television) you can expect an operating time of 2 to 3 hours. It is recommended that you start your vehicle once an hour when using the RPPD100D for extended periods of time.)
 
PROS – Small, Lightweight, and Portable. Versatile.
 
CONS – Would be nice if there was an inverter model that provided more wattage without needing to be hardwired.  This is not a unique problem to the POWERDRIVE brand though.
 
The POWERDRIVE 100D Inverter can be purchased at Amazon.com, The Andersons, Boss eStore, Love’s Travel Stops, Pilot Travel Centers, and Wilco.

Basic Emergency Medical Kit

Basic disaster preparedness includes being ready to react to a medical emergency.  Every segment of your emergency preps should include a basic medical kit at a minimum.  This includes a kit for the house, cars, work, camping equipment, boat, motorhome, cabin, retreat, etc. as they are applicable.  The point of writing this post is to outline a list of items that should be in a basic medical kit.  I certainly will not be able to think of every possibility but the hope is that the contents of this basic emergency medical kit will assist an injured person until additional help can be received.  Your kit will need to be tailored to your individual needs and the number of people that may need to be taken care of with each kit.  As a result of these variances the home medical kit is usually the largest while your other kits will be smaller in size and possibly contain a few less items than the larger kits.  In addition to the contents of your emergency med kits you should also try to find a good reference book that provides a basic knowledge of first aid and that you can easily understand.  Additionally if you have the opportunity to take a training class such as those offered by the American Red Cross, I would encourage you to take advantage of these opportunities.  There is no replacement for quality training by highly qualified personnel.  The following list that I put together is based on what I thought would be suitable numbers for two people.

BASIC EMERGENCY MEDICAL KIT (BEMK)

Hemorrhage Control

(1) Emergency Trauma Dressing

(4) 4 X 4 Gauze Pads

(8) 2 X 2 Gauze Pads

(1) Eye Pad

(2) Kerlix (Roller Gauze)

(2) Nonadherant Dressing – 3” X 4”

(1) Ace Bandage – 6”

(1) Medical Tape – 1”

(12) Band-Aids – Assorted

Wound Management

(1) Irrigation Syringe – 60cc or <

(3) Steri-Strips – Assorted

(10) Alcohol Pads

(1) Moleskin – 3” X 6”

(10) Antiseptic Towelettes

(5) Nitrile Exam Gloves – Pair

OTC Meds

(12) Acetaminophen (Tylenol) – 325mg

(12) Ibuprofen (Motrin) – 200mg

(12) Diphenhydramine (Benadryl) – 25mg

(1) Lip Balm – Tube

(1) Antibiotic Ointment (Neosporin) – Tube

Miscellaneous

(1) Trauma Shears

(1) Forceps (Removal of Foreign Objects, Splinters, or Ticks)

(1) SAM Splint

(2) Triangular Bandage & Safety Pins

(1) Space Blanket

(1) Case for BEMK

Prescription Meds – 72 Hour Supply

Life Gear Glow Auto Gear Review

This product received a rating of 5 ninja stars by The Prepared Ninja!

The Life Gear Glow Auto is a flashlight specifically designed for use in the car as a convenience item or for a source of light in the event of an emergency.  One of the many great features of the Glow Auto CL is that it is so affordable!  I bought mine at Target for less than $7 and with a price tag like that it is not really out of reach for anyone that would like to own one.  The way I see it is that if you can afford to have a car, you can afford to, and should have this flashlight.  Did I mention that I got mine for less than seven bucks?

Life Gear Glow AutoSo what is so great about it?  I already mentioned that it is super affordable.  It has a 200 hour battery life and is rechargeable using the cigarette lighter/power port in the car.  There are four different operating modes making it extremely versatile.  It can be used as an LED flashlight, with the body of the flashlight in red glow mode and with the LED flashlight on at the same time, with the body of the flashlight in red glow mode only, and with the red flasher mode on where the body of the flashlight flashes on and off in red.  The Life Gear Glow Auto also has the nifty element of automatically turning itself off after being left on for an hour which makes it nice if one of your kids gets a hold of it.  And last but not least, (insert trumpet fanfare here) the Life Gear Glow Auto has a magnetic base so that if you are fortunate enough to own a car that does not have a plastic exterior, then you can use the magnet to affix the flashlight to your car.

This flashlight is super light weight and compact in size which makes it perfect for stashing it in the glovebox orLife Gear Glow Auto in the door.  There is also a clip like you would find on a pen that is not something I have used but at the top of that clip is a hole where you can tie a string or light rope through which is something that I like.  The advantage of having a loop of rope tied through the flashlight would be that you could wear it around your neck if you wanted or needed to.  I always think of one of those least convenient times in the middle of nowhere and there are no lights around anywhere and you have to stop on the side of the road and find a spot to go to the bathroom.  This light could save you on that one and having it around your neck leaves both of your hands free to do what you need to.  This could be especially great when mosquitos are in the area!  Another great use for having this loop of rope through my the Life Gear Glow Auto is if I ever find myself stuck on the side of the road and needing to take a look under the hood.  I could hang the light from the hood latch and the light will be shining straight down on the engine leaving both of my hands free to work while giving me some light to work by.

The PROS = Light Weight, Affordable, A Plethora of Uses, & Easily Stashed

The CONS = Plastic Body Makes Light Vulnerable to Breaking & Power Button Turns on Accidentally, Easily

This is a must have piece of gear.  The Life Gear Glow Auto can be purchased online or at retailers that carry Life Gear products.

Winter Driving Safety – Part Four

Today is the last installment in the winter driving safety series in which we will cover what to include in your Winter Car Emergency Kit.  This list was designed to be as comprehensive as possible but of course no one person can do it all.  If there is something that you see I missed please leave a comment and let me know.  Remember that just because you can call for help does not mean that someone will be able to get to you immediately.  Having an emergency kit in your vehicle will help ensure your survival as you wait for assistance to arrive.

WINTER CAR EMERGENCY KIT –

□ Properly Inflated Spare Tire (Full Size Spare If Possible), Tire Iron, and Tire Jack

□ Gas Can

□ Compact Shovel

□ Tire Chains (If Permitted by State & Local Laws)

□ Jumper Cables

□ Tow Strap

□ Rock Salt or Cat Litter (Assist w/ Traction)

□ Basic Tool Kit

            – Multi-Tool

            – Adjustable Wrench

            – Phillips Screwdriver

            – Flathead Screwdriver

            – Pliers

            – Needle Nose Pliers

            – Socket Set

            – Wire Brush

            – Razor Knife

            – Electrical Tape

            – Duct Tape

            – Bailing Wire

            – Shop Rags

□ Gas Line Antifreeze

□ Emergency Tire Sealant (Fix-A-Flat)

□ Tire Pressure Gauge

□ Fire Extinguisher

□ Spare Bulbs

□ Spare Fuses

□ Spare Engine Belts, Hoses, Hose Clamps, & Hardware (Screws, Nuts, Bolts, Etc.)

□ Extra Fluids As Needed (Engine Oil, Antifreeze, Power Steering, Windshield Washer, Etc.)

□ Swiss Army Knife

□ Flashlight with Extra Batteries

□ Reflective Triangles or Signal Flares

□ Brightly Colored Cloth (Antenna Signal)

□ Ice Scraper/Snow Brush

□ Compass

□ Road Maps/Atlas

□ Cell Phone Charger

□ Emergency Cash (Quarters & Small Bills, ~ $20)

□ Battery Powered Radio w/ Batteries (AM/FM/Weather)

□ First Aid Kit (Including Life Sustaining Prescription Medication If Needed)

Emergency Candles or Canned Heat

□ Nylon Cord or Rope – 50 Feet (Parachute Cord is Ideal)

□ Two Methods to Start Fire

            – Bic Style Lighter

            – Wood Matches

            – Magnifying Lens

            – BlastMatch (Flint Striker)

            – Magnesium Fire-Starter

□ Tarp or Painters Plastic

□ Extra Clothing

            – Hat

            – Coat

            – Gloves

            – Sweatshirt

            – Shirt

            – Pants

            – Long Underwear

            – Socks

            – Underwear

□ Extra Shoes (Boots Preferred)

□ Poncho

□ Blanket or Sleeping Bag

□ Emergency Blanket

□ Food (Non-Perishable & High-Energy)

            – Backpacking Type Meals

            – MRE’s

            – Energy Bars

            – Nuts

            – Granola

            – Beef Jerky

            – Dried Fruit

            – Canned Goods (Soup, Chili, Etc.)

            – Chocolate

            – Instant Coffee

            – Hot Chocolate Mix

            – Tea Bags

□ Bottled Water (Only about ¾ full to allow for expansion as a result of freezing.)

□ Manual Can Opener

□ Metal Hiker’s Cup (Use to Melt Snow for Water)

□ Water Purification Tablets

□ Toilet Paper

□ Hand Sanitizer

□ Feminine Hygiene Items

□ Toiletry & Hygiene Items (Toothbrush, Toothpaste, Deodorant, Etc.)

□ Pencil/Pen & Paper

□ Whistle (To Signal)

□ Book (Entertainment)

Thanks for checking out our winter driving safety series this week.  Hope you all have a great weekend and don’t forget to drive safe!

Winter Driving Safety – Part Three

Today is part three of four in the winter driving safety series in which we will cover how to handle operating a vehicle in hazardous conditions and what to do if you get stranded.  This is another area where I will try to share what I know and could gather but I would again urge you to look for more information so that you feel the most comfortable with your own abilities.  Some, regardless of how much reading is done, may need to seek additional driving instruction.  This is ok.  What is important is that you realize the limit of your abilities and seek improvement if you need to.

Disclaimer – Once again, I am in no means a mechanical or driving expert so use the knowledge shared here at your own risk.

IF YOU ARE OPERATING IN POTENTIALLY HAZARDOUS CONDITIONS –

» Remember the basic rule.  Law enforcement officers can cite you for driving dangerously even if you are traveling at the posted speed limit if the weather and road conditions dictate that vehicles should be operated at lesser speeds.

» Keep an eye out for other vehicles and attempt to anticipate the actions of the other vehicles driver.  You will have less time to react on rain, snow, or ice so leave additional room between you and other vehicles.

» Make sure that you are always visible to other vehicles by driving with your lights on.  Use low beams at all times.  Using high beams during winter driving conditions is not more effective and can make driving more difficult because of impaired vision as a result of reflecting light.

» The slippery conditions created by ice and snow add additional time and distance to what you normally would need to stop.  Allow for extra braking distance and time when ice and/or snow is/are on the roads.  These same slippery conditions make it necessary to slow down the speed of your vehicle, make yours starts deliberate and smooth, and make turns slowly.  When braking also remember to lightly apply the brakes and never “slam on” the brakes, doing so could cause the vehicle brakes to lock up or put the vehicle into a skid.  Conventional brakes can be gently pumped while anti-lock brakes need to have gentle and steady pressure applied to properly brake in slippery conditions.

» If it is possible to avoid stopping all together then do so.  It is much easier to get moving again from a slow roll then from a dead stop.  Don’t commit any traffic violations but slowly rolling up to an intersection while waiting for a light to change can make getting through the intersection a lot easier.

» If you start to go into a skid then handle it properly.  Keep both of your hands on the wheel.  Remember the face of the clock, the left hand goes at ten o’clock and the right hand goes at two o’clock.  Steer the vehicle in the direction that you want it to go.  It sounds simple because it is and oh yeah, it works.

» Some areas of the roadway such as bridges, overpasses, and seldom traveled roads will freeze before others.  These same areas are also the prime areas for the formation of black ice.  Look out for spots in the road that look black and shiny; this is possibly black ice which can cause sudden loss of control of your vehicle.  If you identify what you think is black ice then slow down, keep your foot off of the brakes, and guide your vehicle through the area keeping both hands on the steering wheel.

» Avoid using cruise control when driving in winter conditions to maintain maximum control of your vehicle.

» Don’t power up hills.  Applying extra gas on snow-covered roads just starts your wheels spinning.  Try to get a little inertia going before you reach the hill and let that inertia carry you to the top.  As you reach the crest of the hill, reduce your speed and proceed downhill as slowly as possible.  Don’t stop going up a hill.  There’s nothing worse than trying to get moving up a hill on an icy road.  Get some inertia going on a flat roadway before you take on the hill.  If additional traction is needed on hills consider shifting into a lower gear.

IF YOU GET STRANDED –

» The first thing that you should do if you get stranded in your vehicle is attempt to call for help.  This can be hard sometimes because of poor cell phone reception.  Always keep in mind that sometimes even with a poor cell signal that text messages are able to be sent even when a call can’t be made.  This can be a potential work around if you get stranded and need to get help.

» If you are stranded, don’t leave your vehicle unless there is no other option.  Every year people are killed because they wander out into winter storms after getting stranded in their cars.  Often times their cars are found long before their bodies are.  The best thing that you can do is let someone know that you are going somewhere, what the route you are taking is, and when you expect that you will arrive at your destination.  This will give anyone that goes looking for you the best chances of finding you soon and alive.

» Keeping a window cracked open is a must.  If your vehicle becomes covered in snow it can actually create a seal and ultimately lead to asphyxiation.  The window being cracked is also necessary if you are going to use a candle or a canned heat product like Sterno to try to stay warm or prepare food in the vehicle while you are stranded.  Maintaining body temperature is imperative to ensure survival if you get stranded in your vehicle in the middle of winter.  Running the engine periodically is the best way to heat a vehicle in this scenario.  The danger in running the engine is the risk of carbon monoxide leaking into the vehicle especially when a vehicle is stationary as well as potential engine damage caused by running for extended periods of time.  To mitigate the chances of asphyxiation and engine damage, only run the vehicle for ten minutes or less per hour and remember to keep the window cracked.

Tune in again tomorrow for the last post in our winter driving safety series which will be all about what to include in your winter car emergency kit.

 

Sources: National Traffic Safety Institute, American Automobile Association, The Weather Channel

Winter Driving Safety – Part Two

 Today is part two of four in the winter driving safety series in which we will cover what to do before you go out driving in winter weather conditions.  The intent today is to have a good grasp on some of the steps to take to plan your trip before you set out and after your car has already been prepped for winter.

Disclaimer – Just a reminder that I am in no means a mechanical or driving expert so use the knowledge shared here at your own risk.

WHAT TO DO BEFORE YOU GO OUT DRIVING IN WINTER CONDITIONS –

● AAA says it best.  Stay home.  If you really don’t have to go out, don’t.  Even if you can drive well in the snow, not everyone else can.  Don’t tempt fate: If you don’t have somewhere you have to be, watch the snow from indoors.

● If you must go out, try to hit the road only after the snow plows and salt or sand trucks have had the opportunity to clear and treat the roads.

● ALWAYS use your safety belt and make sure that all of your passengers are as well.

● Winter driving familiarization can be accomplished by taking your vehicle to an empty parking lot that is covered in icy and/or snowy and practicing winter driving maneuvers.  This will also give you a feel for how your particular vehicle will react to certain conditions.

● Program emergency contacts into your cell phone that includes roadside assistance and at least three other people who can be contacted for assistance if you need it.

● Use the internet, radio, TV, or your smart phone to check the weather conditions at your destination and along your route before you even leave your departure point.  Allow plenty of time to get to your destination based on the conditions and if there are potential changes forecast than allow additional time to compensate for these additional risks.  Keeping a GPS system as well as a map of the local areas where you are traveling in your vehicle will also mitigate the chances of getting lost.  As great as GPS systems can be, they are not fool-proof, especially when bad weather is present and a map is a great back-up.

● When planning your route during winter months eliminate risky areas such as hills, bridges, high traffic areas, or points where traffic merges and vehicles could slide into each other.

● Wear appropriate, comfortable clothing for your trip and remember to dress in layers.  You will not need as much clothing while you are in the vehicle but if you needed to get out you want those additional layers handy so that you are able to stay warm.

● Don’t get tired driving to your destination.  If you can, plan to have additional drivers on a long trip.  More than one driver allows for a rotation.  Regardless of the number of drivers that you have make sure that you get plenty of rest prior to driving in winter conditions and make periodic stops to stretch every two to three hours.  If you are making a long trip to avoid being tired leave during the day if possible instead of planning on putting in a full day and then leaving for your trip at night.  Driving during daylight hours also has the benefit of better visibility while also providing the advantage of being found easier if you do end up sliding off the road or getting stranded.

● Make sure that you keep your vehicle’s fuel tank full if possible so that if you do get stranded you have the means to run the vehicle periodically to keep warm.  Ensure that when periodically running the vehicle that the exhaust pipe is clear of obstructions.

● Clear all vehicle windows, mirrors, lights (headlights/brake lights/turn signals), and the roof of ice and snow.  Completely clear the windows.  Don’t just make the little square on the windshield that makes your car look like some sort of homemade hillbilly tank.

Tune in tomorrow for part three of the winter driving safety series covering how to handle operating a vehicle in hazardous conditions and what to do if you get stranded.

 

Sources: National Traffic Safety Institute, American Automobile Association, The Weather Channel

Winter Driving Safety – Part One

Well it is mid-winter in most places which means that we should all be back in the swing of winter driving.  Hopefully this is the case but I have been seeing an abnormal amount of “errors in judgment” when it comes to the winter drivers in my local area.  I took this as maybe a good time to rehash the importance of winter driving safety and share some wisdom that I have compiled on the subject.

Disclaimer – I am in no means a mechanical or driving expert so use the knowledge shared here at your own risk.

Today is part one of four in the winter driving safety series in which we will cover how to get your vehicle ready for winter.

The first thing that should be accomplished in preparation for winter driving is to ensure that your vehicle is in a good state of repair and ready for the additional challenges of the extreme temperatures and winter conditions.  If you would prefer to have your vehicle taken to a mechanic for a tune-up, which is not a bad option at all if you can afford it.  If your preference is to check your vehicle out yourself then that is great too.  The thing that matters is that someone takes a look at your vehicle to make sure that it is in good operating condition.

PREPARING YOUR VEHICLE FOR WINTER WEATHER CHECKLIST –

□ Check the brakes for rotor wear, screeching sounds, wobbling, or excessive play in the brake pedal.

□ Check under the hood for loose and/or worn wiring, hoses, and fan belts.

□ Check the high and low beams as well as turn signals for proper operation.

□ Inspect windshield wipers and consider specialty snow wiper blades as an alternative.

□ Check the air filter for cleanliness and/or any obstructions.

Check the battery for clean terminals and tight connections.

□ Inspect vehicle tires for proper air pressure, sidewall wear, and tread depth.

□ Check motor oil, antifreeze, and windshield washer fluid levels.  Also ensure that the fluids used in your vehicle are appropriate for the temperature range that you will be operating in.

□ Check the heating/defrosting system for proper operation.

□ If your vehicle is rear wheel drive then consider placing sand tubes or another form of additional weight in the rear of the vehicle to provide additional traction.

This is by no means an all-inclusive list and I would encourage you to look into the subject further.  What this should do is serve as a starting point and at least give everyone an idea (especially those that may be less mechanically inclined) of where to get started in preparing your vehicle for the winter driving season.

Tune in tomorrow as we talk about what to do before you go out driving in winter weather conditions.

 

Sources: National Traffic Safety Institute, American Automobile Association, The Weather Channel