2017 Winter Weather Preparedness Week – Day 3: Preparing Your Vehicle for a Winter Storm

Day Two was Preparing for a Winter Storm at Home.

Day Three – Preparing Your Vehicle for a Winter Storm

Ideally, you should plan your travel and check the latest weather reports in order to avoid the storm altogether. Since this is not always possible, here are some suggestions for safety preparations in motor vehicles.

First of all, you should check and fully winterize your vehicle before the winter season begins, including anti-freeze levels and tire tread.

You should carry a winter storm survival kit in your car. This kit should include…
  • Mobile phone with charger and batteries.
  • Blankets and sleeping bags.
  • Flashlight with extra batteries.
  • First-aid kit.
  • Knife.
  • High-calorie, non-perishable food.
  • Extra clothing to keep dry.
  • Large empty can to use as emergency toilet. Tissues and paper towels for sanitary purposes.
  • Small can and waterproof matches to melt snow for drinking water.
  • Sack of sand or cat litter for traction.
  • Shovel.
  • Windshield scraper and brush.
  • Tool kit.
  • Tow rope.
  • Battery jumper cables.
  • Water container.
  • Compass and road maps.

In addition, keep your gas tank near full to avoid ice in the tank and fuel lines. Avoid traveling alone. Let someone know your timetable and primary and alternate routes.

If you become caught in a fierce winter storm, it is important to stay in your vehicle. You will become quickly disoriented in wind-driven snow and cold. Run the motor for about 10 minutes each hour for heat, but make sure that the exhaust pipe is not blocked with snow or ice. Open the window a little for fresh air to avoid carbon monoxide poisoning.

Exercise from time to time, moving arms, legs, fingers, and toes vigorously to keep blood circulating and to keep warm. Avoid overexertion such as shoveling heavy snow, pushing a car, or walking in deep snow. The strain from the combination of cold and hard labor may cause a heart attack.

Be visible to rescuers. Turn on the dome light of your car at night when running the engine. Tie a colored cloth, preferably red, to your antenna or door. After snow stops falling, raise the hood to indicate that you need help.


Tomorrow’s topic will be Frostbite and Hypothermia.

Published by Nathan Coram

Hello! I'm Nathan Coram, a 20 year old meteorology student and weather geek, and am in my junior year at UMass Lowell as a meteorology major. I am the current Vice President of the UML American Meteorological Society Local Student Chapter. Prior to at UML, I attended the Dracut school system for my K-12 years, having graduated from Dracut High in 2018. I first got into weather with the December 2008 ice storm, which knocked out my electricity for 4 days. I had no idea how it could be raining and becoming ice immediately, and how rain can knock out power. (Now I do - warm layer aloft, cold air at surface). But I didn't really get into it until the heat of July 2010 and specifically a few severe weather events during that month, followed by the year 2011, which featured several high profile weather events. Since then I have had a growing interest, and am hoping to make it into the meteorology field, preferably with NOAA/NWS. But for now, I'm blogging here on Dracut Weather (also on Twitter and Facebook), helping with the UML Weather Center social media, and tweeting about the weather on my own account as well. Thanks for visiting!

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