What is Veterans Day? I took an informal poll to see if anyone knew why today is what it is, and what it’s purpose is. Most people had a vague idea, but I was surprised at how many young people (in their early to mid 20s) had no clue as to the meaning of Veterans Day. “A day to thank or honor veterans and the men and women of the military for their service” is the most common response, and while it’s technically true, it really goes much deeper than that.
I much prefer forms of snow and ice that come in a cone and are drizzled with some style of cherry-flavored syrup concoction. They’re just not for me: I distinctly recall crying due to the chilly conditions as my dad tried to teach me how to ski when I was a kid. Yet to my dismay, no matter how much I pray for these styles of precipitation to stay up in the clouds, they still manage to make their way down to earth and cover the roads we drive on.
Since fewer people are driving Hummers and other commanding four-wheel drive vehicles, we’re all finding the slick roads exceedingly difficult to navigate. To make things worse, weather forecasters are predicting yet another blustery season in the Northwest, Midwest, and Northeast. Don’t worry, though! Meteorologists are occasionally incorrect in their forecasts, but in the mean time, let’s make sure you’re prepared for an emergency and ready to own the snowy roads we’ll be seeing very soon.
Emergency items to keep in your vehicle
• High-calorie, non-perishable food
• Multi-purpose tool or knife
• Bottled water
• Emergency cell phone charger
• Crank radio
• Sleeping bags
• Emergency candles and lantern
• Hand warmers (I wouldn’t have survived four years of freezing temperatures at college golf tournaments without these puppies. For added heat, pick up some of the thermal patches designed to ease back pain. They really do the trick on a blustery day and they’re cheap!)
• Outerwear – boots, scarf, hat, gloves, coat
• Clothing – long underwear, wool socks
• First-Aid Kit
Emergency Car Kit:
• Tow ropes
• Ice scrapers
• Jumper cables
• Sand, gravel, salt, or cat litter
• Nylon cord
• Tire-changing tools (make sure your spare is not flat!)
• Small tool kit
Driving in treacherous conditions
• Decrease your speed and allow yourself ample room to stop (at least three car lengths).
• Brake softly to avoid skidding.
• Heed extra caution in areas that freeze first (think: bridges, overpasses, and desolate roads).
• If your front wheels skid, take your foot off the gas and shift into neutral. Don’t try to steer immediately. As the wheels skid sideways, your vehicle will slow down and you’ll regain traction and the ability to steer in another direction. Put the transmission back into drive and accelerate slowly.
• If your rear wheels skid, take your foot off the accelerator and begin steering in the same direction you’d like your front wheels to go (example: if your rear wheels are sliding left, steer left). You may need to alternate steering directions a few times to regain control of your vehicle. If you have anti-lock brakes, apply steady pressure. In a vehicle with standard brakes, pump them gently.
• Don’t drive in front of snow plows (the road in front of them is worse than behind, duh!
• If you get stuck, remember that spinning your wheels will only lodge your car deeper into the snow! First, move the steering wheel from left to right a few times to eliminate snow build-up around the tires. Accelerate slowly and with a light touch to ease the vehicle out. With a shovel, clear away snow from the undercarriage and around the wheels. Next, pour sand, gravel, salt, or cat litter in the path of the wheels to promote traction. As long as your owner’s manual doesn’t discourage rocking the vehicle, alternate shifting from forward to reverse to gradually dislodge the vehicle.
More life-saving tips
• Always keep your gas tank near full!
• In more desolate or unfamiliar places: avoid traveling alone and let someone know your itinerary.
• Get your vehicle checked and winterized before the season begins!
Hey daredevils, listen to this: I know you like to attempt to conquer the roads before the snow plows have done their work so you can get your Man v. Wild-style rush. That’s cool and all when it’s on TV, but these wannabe heroics can make driving dangerous for you and others. Besides, you should never assume your vehicle is apt to handle all weather conditions. I’ve seen plenty of trucks and SUVs in ditches during tough winters, and they likely ended up there because their vehicles made their drivers feel as if they had some sort of 4×4 halo of immunity! If there’s bad winter weather, the best thing you can do is avoid it by staying off the roads.
I don’t usually drive in bad winter weather… but when I do, I drive with caution and preparedness! Stay warm and safe, my friends!