It’s that time of year when the weather turns tricky and a lot of families hit the road for the holidays. If you live in a climate that faces inclement weather or are traveling to a region sees hard conditions, be sure to keep these winter driving tips in mind over the coming months.
Winter ready. Depending upon your region, the family automobile should be checked for its usual upkeep. Tire pressure, fluids and brakes should be inspected and the car should be stocked with a snow brush, blankets, ice scraper, flashlight, water and food – or at least chocolate.
New windshield wipers. Have you ever been in a rain or snowstorm only to discover you need new windshield wipers? It’s happened to me too many times and it’s not fun. In fact, just a few weeks ago when my car was left in the driveway overnight it snowed. It was then that I realized my wipers were on the fritz. Both blades were worn down and unhelpful, they just skimmed over the snow. I was happy to be able to replace them with some new Teflon Shield wipers that I had received for review. I’ve never given wipes much thought but when I read that these have Duel Shield Technology which is a high-strength shell that safeguards the blades from the elements – we need that here in Minnesota. I could immediately tell a difference after the wipers were installed. Since then I have been driving in ice and snow and my visibility has been excellent. I suggest you do the same and check your wipers.
Car seat check. If your preschooler has outgrown his or her car seat, it’s time to upgrade to a booster seat (be sure to follow your state car seat law). It’s important your child’s seat fit their body appropriately and ensure the seat is installed correctly.
Warm up the car safely. As the temperatures dip, warming up the car becomes part of the daily routine and it’s not uncommon to return inside to finish getting the kids bundled up. However, there is a habit that is second nature to people with a garage and that’s closing the garage door upon entering the house. The result of pushing that button will not only turn your garage toxic with carbon monoxide, but it can also seep into your home and if you don’t have a carbon monoxide detector you may never even realize it (please ensure your house has this important alarm). There is one way to ensure this never happens and that’s to back your car out of the garage just a few feet. That way if you do unconsciously push the garage door button the garage sensor will detect the car and prevent the garage from closing.
Never leave the kids or pets alone in the car. Most parents know not to leave children alone in the car during summer months due to the dangers of high temperatures. But that rule needs to be practiced year-round. Kids have been known to “play driver” and manage to push the gearshift into neutral and take a ride down the street (I still don’t understand how this happens but I know it does). As for the pet part. A couple of months ago I was in the car waiting for the kids to load up. My puppy was excited to go for a ride and was roaming the car, peeking out the windows. When I realized I forgot something, I hopped out and closed the car door. I was only going to be gone a minute. But my little Paco managed to lock me out of the car with a push of the car lock button with the car running. We were able to trick him into re-pushing the button but it took a good ten minutes. Lesson learned.
Dress to impress – or at least for the worst. Even if you’re not going on a long road trip it’s not a bad idea to dress for the unexpected. Envision the weather is super cold and your car is nice and cozy. A quick trip through the Starbucks drive-thru makes for an easy trip, but what happens if your car suddenly breaks down on the side of the road and all you have on are slippers and a light sweater. Make it a habit to dress in winter wear (or at least have winter coats in the car) because a car without heat, on the side of the road is no fun.
Text later. We parents are fantastic multitaskers. Thus, put down the phone and drive. The car isn’t the place for texting, talking and checking emails. That’s just a little friendly reminder from one parent to another. Our children are valuable. Don’t risk their lives or yours.
Drive differently in bad weather. Finally, when it’s snowing or raining make an effort and pay attention. Turn on those headlights, slow down at intersections, break slowly,and never use cruise control on a wet road.