Snow and Ice, Please Think Twice!
Holidays are approaching, you might have plans to spend them somewhere in the mountains, maybe go skiing or just relaxing in front of a welcoming fireplace in a far away chalet surrounded by snow, but the main problem is how do you get there? One possibility would be to take the train. Yet, think about the stress of not being on time for the departure, the crowd in the train and the impossibility to stop wherever you want and admire the view. Then why not take advantage of your own vehicle, well-equipped for harsh winter conditions? Here's what you should do when winter is knocking on your car's doors...
If you know the old saying “Ice and snow, please drive slow”, then you don't need to be a magician to figure out that driving slowly can save both your life and the lives of the passengers in your car and of other motorists on the road. In case the road is as slippery as the skating rink where you give your representations each Sunday, then you know that braking while driving at high speed can change your dear vehicle into an uncontrollable sledge.
Also, if the weather conditions are worsening, under no circumstances, you should pull over and wait for the storm to be over. You risk to become an ice statue similar to those you've seen in the Winter Queen's Palace in “Chronicles of Narnia”. Best thing you could do in this situation is to seek a motel or a hotel where to stop and admire winter's caprices. Unfortunately, finding a safe shelter might prove impossible sometimes, so you should continue your way with maximum caution.
Tip: It's highly advisable you take a look at the weather forecast before you set for an adventurous journey. They might not always predict the right weather, but they can surely give you indications about how the picture would look like on the whole.
Sounds stupid not to know your route but don't jump so fast to the conclusions! You can take a GPS with you to show you the right way but remember that this kind of devices can let you down when you need them the most. Maps would be a more appropriate choice though they may seem old-fashioned. Think about GPS devices and maps just the way you think about cats and dogs. First ones may be deceiving, while the last ones are always faithful. Another wise thing to do would be to let someone know where you're going as well as the specific route. If you can't use your cell phone in case of emergency, at least someone will know why you don't answer the call.
Tip: In case you have a precise target in mind, it's better to phone the hosts first and let them know the approximated time of your arrival. In case you're not there on time and the weather is worsening, they will try to contact you several times and if you don't answer, they'll know you're in big trouble.
Fill it up
Needless to say in winter months it's highly important to keep your gas tank full. Did I mention that in some situations this can even save your skin? This is no time to be a cheapskate. The reason is quite simple, not to mention obvious: a full tank means that your car will weigh more and this allows you to have better traction on snowy roads. And there's more: in case of the unfortunate event of a breakdown or of undesired situation of being stuck in snow, while waiting for a miracle to happen and praying to all gods to take you out of this because you'd be a good girl from now on, you will need to run the car from time to time to keep the cabin warm.
However, don't even think to turn on the heater without turning the car's engine on as well just in case you don't want to commit suicide by carbon monoxide poisoning. Moreover, remember to lock your doors: being in an emergency situation is no reason to be a victim for criminals!
Tip: Before turning on your car's engine and running the heater, always make sure the exhaust pipe isn't blocked by snow. In case it is, you have take the bull by the horns and move the snow out of the way with your hands or with a shovel if you have one.
Search for help but don't abandon your car
Ok, the unexpected has happened, you got stuck on a road covered with snow, your cell phone's not working and you have no idea what to do next. First step: don't panic. Yes, it's hard not to imagine pictures with you freezing but the important thing is to remain calm and come up with a solution to escape the nightmare. Second step: stay inside your vehicle and wait for help to arrive or until conditions improve.
During blizzard-like conditions, if you leave your car and search for help, which must be your first impulse, you can easily become disoriented and never be able to return to the car again. If the blizzard has passed, you can go to seek for help but try to follow the road if possible and use the landmarks as a sense of direction. Remember that a positive thinking will attract positive solutions!
Tip: During the blizzard, when you have to stay in your car, you can tie a red cloth to the antenna of the vehicle or hang it out the window. This might attract other motorists and your salvation might be twice closer than you would have expected. Also, you can display a “Call Police” or “Emergency” sign in your front or rear window.
If you're planning to go on the battle field, you can not go without the right weapons to defeat the enemy. When driving during wintertime, never leave without: small hand shovel (or bigger as long as it fits your car's trunk), ice scraper, flashlight and extra batteries, battery cables and portable battery charger. In case you have to wait for the severe weather to pass, it would be of real help if you had a blanket, an extra pair of socks and gloves, a winter hat and a warmer coat.
The belief “it can't happen to me” can be really dangerous because your unjustified overconfidence might lead you one step near disaster. Since you like carrying so much luggage with you, don't forget to pack some hazard triangles, a red rag or cloth, Call Police sign for window, extra antifreeze, First-Aid Kit (no doubt you had it in your car all the times but just checking) and a cell phone charger for vehicle use. Although we're not thinking of the worst, meaning being forced to spend a day or a night before you manage to leave, consider packing some non-perishable food. Thinking on an empty stomach is just not the right combination.
Tip: You can also include among the absolute necessary items at least one bag of salt, sand or kitty litter. What use?! In case the road's slippery, these will help you fight the ice and make your way a lot easier.
All set, off you go. Not so fast daring rider. If children are coming with you, you wouldn't want them to get on your nerves with “Are we there yet?” in a completely out of control situation. Keeping them busy can offer you the chance to clear your thoughts and solve the problem. So, before you leave on a wintry adventure, pack some coloring books, pencils, books, audio-books and small travel games. Don't forget some extra-gloves and socks, the winter hats and the warmer coats for the little ones as well. If you're not entertained by the situation, at least they will have some fun!