Winter Travel Vehicle Safety

  • vector image of a snowflake

Winter weather can be hazardous for driving when snow and ice accumulate on the roads. The Plainfield Fire Protection District has the following winter travel safety tips to help you to stay safe while traveling. First of all, plan ahead so you can avoid or limit travel during winter storms. Do not travel if there are low visibility conditions. If you must travel, let someone know where you’re going, what route you’re taking and what time you expect to arrive so they can notify authorities if you don’t arrive because you’re stuck somewhere along the way. Keep your vehicle’s gas tank full or near full to avoid ice in the tank/fuel lines and so you’ll have extra fuel in the event you get stranded.

If you’re stranded in your vehicle during a winter storm please remember the following survival tips. Stay in your vehicle; don’t leave your vehicle unless help is visible within 100 yards. Walking in a storm is dangerous; you could become exhausted or get lost. Use your cell phone to call 9-1-1 and let them know where you are stuck. Move anything you will need, such as your emergency kit, from your trunk into the passenger compartment. Tie a bright colored cloth to the antenna or hang it outside your window to signal for help. Periodically clear your hood and roof of snow so your vehicle is visible. Keep the exhaust pipe clear of snow and check it before you start your engine. A blocked exhaust pipe will allow deadly carbon monoxide to build up inside your vehicle. Run your vehicle for ten minutes every hour for heat. Open one window slightly to allow for fresh air. To reduce battery drain only keep your dome light on and use your flashers and headlights if you hear another vehicle approaching. Move your arms and legs to stay warm and to stay awake. Wrap your body and head with extra clothes, blankets and newspapers. Huddle with other people for warmth. Don’t eat snow because it will lower your body temperature.

Everyone should have a winter vehicle safety kit that should include the following items:
• A red or brightly colored backpack to hold your kit’s supplies.
• A whistle, pieces of bright colored cloth (to tie to your antenna or hang outside your window), emergency flares and reflectors to signal for help.
• A shovel, windshield scrapper and small broom.
• A tow chain or rope with road salt, sand or cat litter for traction.
• Booster cables.
• Blankets and/or sleeping bags.
• Extra gloves, hats and socks, at least 2 pairs of each so you can change them if they are wet.
• Packages of chemical hand warmers.
• Non-perishable food/snack items and bottled water.
• A battery powered radio and a flashlight with extra batteries.
• A cell phone adapter to plug into your lighter.
• A large coffee can, small candles and matches (a lit candle can be placed inside the coffee can for warmth).
• A first aid kit.

Plan ahead and be prepared for winter weather as you travel this season. For more information please visit our web site at or call us at 815-436-5335 ext. 7314.