Car Safety

You can avoid many dangerous weather problems by planning ahead.  Plan long trips carefully, listening to the radio or television for the latest weather forecasts and road conditions. If bad weather is forecast, drive only if absolutely necessary.

Check or have a mechanic check the following items on your car:

  • Keep your gas tank full - in case evacuation is needed.
  • Do not drive through a flooded area - Six inches of water can cause a vehicle to lose control and possibly stall. A foot of water will float many cars.
  • Be aware of areas where floodwaters have receded - Roads may have weakened and could collapse under the weight of a car.
  • If a power line falls on your car you are at risk of electrical shock, stay inside until a trained person removes the wire.
  • Antifreeze levels - ensure they are sufficient to avoid freezing.
  • Battery and ignition system - should be in top condition and battery terminals should be clean.
  • Brakes - check for wear and fluid levels.
  • Exhaust system - check for leaks and crimped pipes and repair or replace as necessary. Carbon monoxide is deadly and usually gives no warning.
  • Fuel and air filters - replace and keep water out of the system by using additives and maintaining a full tank of gas. A full tank will keep the fuel line from freezing.
  • Heater and defroster - ensure they work properly.
  • Lights and flashing hazard lights - check for serviceability.
  • Oil - check for level and weight. Heavier oils congeal more at low temperatures and do not lubricate as well.
  • Thermostat - ensure it works properly.
  • Windshield wiper equipment - repair any problems and maintain proper washer fluid level.
  • Install good winter tires - Make sure the tires have adequate tread. All-weather radials are usually adequate for most winter conditions. However, some jurisdictions require that to drive on their roads, vehicles must be equipped with chains or snow tires with studs.

If there is an explosion or other factor that makes it difficult to control the vehicle, pull over, stop the car and set the parking brake.

If the emergency could impact the physical stability of the roadway, avoid overpasses, bridges, power lines, signs and other hazards.

Make an Emergency Kit for Your Car

In case you are stranded, keep a kit of emergency supplies in your car including

  • Jumper cables: might want to include flares or reflective triangle
  • Flashlights: with extra batteries
  • First Aid Kit: remember any necessary medications, baby formula and diapers if you have a small child
  • Food: non-perishable food such as canned food, and protein rich foods like nuts and energy bars
  • Manual can opener
  • Water: at least 1 gallon of water per person a day for at least 3 days
  • Basic toolkit: pliers, wrench, screwdriver
  • Pet supplies: food and water  
  • Radio: battery or hand cranked
  • Cat litter or sand: for better tire traction
  • Shovel
  • Ice scraper
  • Clothes: warm clothes, gloves, hat, sturdy boots, jacket and an extra change of clothes for the cold
  • Blankets or sleeping bags
  • Charged Cell Phone: and car charger 

Last updated: 03/03/2014 - 03:02 PM