The American Red Cross Helps Winter Drivers Stay on Track
With thousands of people in Rockford hitting the road for holiday travel in the coming weeks, the Rock River Chapter urges families and individuals to take precautions against the deceptive dangers of wintry weather and prepare for winter travel. According to the US Department of Commerce, almost 70 percent of winter injuries related to snow and ice take place as a result of vehicle accidents. But there are steps people can take to stay safer while traveling this winter.
“The American Red Cross recommends that people prepare for disasters and other weather emergencies wherever they spend a lot of time, and for many of us that includes our vehicles,” says Cedric Johnson, Community Relations Coordinator at the Rock River Chapter. “As we gear up for holiday travel, it’s even more important that we all take simple steps to help keep ourselves and our loved ones safer while on the road.”
The American Red Cross offers the following preparedness tips before hitting the road:
Winter-proof your vehicle:
- Get your vehicle checked by a mechanic and pay extra attention to the battery, tire pressure, heater, defroster, wiper blades and washer fluid.
- Carry a disaster supplies kit in your vehicle at all times with basics like non-perishable food, water, a battery-operated radio, flashlight, first aid kit, emergency flares, and jumper cables.
- Make sure your kit includes winter items like a shovel, windshield scraper, blankets, and sand or cat litter for tire traction.
- Try to keep your gas tank as close to full as possible in case of an emergency and to avoid ice in the tank and fuel lines.
Before you travel:
- Let your family or friends know your destination, your primary and alternate route, when you plan on leaving and when you expect to arrive. If your vehicle gets stuck along the way, help can be sent along your predetermined route.
- Pay attention to the weather forecast. Your local TV and radio stations can provide updated storm information that can help you avoid treacherous weather.
- Motorists should also be cautious about animals on the highway.
If you are stranded:
- Stay with your vehicle and don’t attempt to walk to safety. It’s easy to become disoriented in wind-driven snow and exposure increases your risk of developing hypothermia and frostbite.
- As you sit, exercise your arms and legs to maintain body heat.
- Use the heater for 10 minutes every hour and leave the overhead light on when the engine is running so you can be seen. Open the window a crack for fresh air and to avoid carbon monoxide poisoning.
- Keep the exhaust pipe clear from snow and ice so fumes won’t back up in the vehicle.
- Make it easier for rescuers to find you by tying a brightly colored cloth to the antennae.
- After the snow has subsided, raise your vehicle hood to indicate you need help.
For additional winter safety tips and information on building a disaster supplies kit for your vehicle, contact: (815) 963-8471 or visit www.rockriver.redcross.org.