Senior Health

Coping with The Dangers of Winter Driving

Having your car break down in normal weather is frustrating enough, but being trapped in a blizzard is a frightening experience that can have dangerous or even fatal consequences.

In this season of snowy holidays, you run the risk of being stuck in your car during a severe blizzard for hours or even days. But even if that’s the case, there are precautions you can take so you and your passengers can stay safe until you’re rescued.

The best thing to do, of course, is not to travel in extremely bad weather unless it’s absolutely necessary. If that’s the case, tell your relatives or friends your departure and arrival times so they’ll know if something is wrong. The American Automobile Association recommends getting your car checked out at the beginning of the season so it’s in optimum condition. Make sure you always have a full tank of gas, and pack a good survival kit in case the worst happens.

The experts at the SeniorHealth division of the National Institutes of Health lists the following in-case-of-emergency essentials:

a full tank of gas

cell phone (fully charged and with numbers you might need such as a police department, a tow service and family members)

first aid kit


flares and a colorful flag to tie to the antenna

jumper cables

jack (and ground mat) for changing a tire

work gloves and a change of clothes

basic repair tools and some duct tape (for temporarily repairing a hose leak)

a jug of water and paper towels for cleaning up

nonperishable food, drinking water, and medicines

extra windshield washer fluid


Additionally, state transportation authorities recommend blankets or even a sleeping bag as well as a shovel: If you are trapped and running your motor (no more than 15 minutes an hour), it’s essential to make sure yxour exhaust pipe is free of snow. Otherwise, you’ll run the risk of carbon monoxide poisoning.

Finally, many people keep their emergency supplies in the trunk because they can be bulky. But if you’re going on a trip where bad weather is anticipated, try to move as many supplies as possible into the car itself so you won’t have any trouble getting to them.

For more information on safe winter driving, visit

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