Helping Houstonians Face Cold Weather Vacations
Here at Angels Medical, we have many friends who head north to colder, snowier climates for their holiday hoorahs and we’re always excited to hear about their many adventures in the winter weather. However, white Christmas charm aside, facing the chill of cold weather can bring hazardous surprises for our fair-weather friends. So, for those Houston families traveling to colder climates for their holidays, here are some tips from experts like those at Triple-A to keep you and your loved ones safe throughout all the hustle and bustle of holiday travels!
- It may go against your personal pride– but let someone else drive! Whether you’re new to the cold or you’re just out of practice, when visiting loved ones who are used to snow and ice it is ALWAYS safer to let them drive or to hire a local driver to deal with the hazardous conditions.
- Prepare the car for an emergency.
- Keep a bundle of cold-weather gear in your car, such as extra water, warm clothing, a flashlight, a window scraper, blankets, and first aid kit.
- Make certain your tires are properly inflated and have plenty of tread. If traveling through high winter mountains, tire chains are not always necessary but are great to have if needed.
- Keep spare fuel bottled and in your vehicle’s trunk.
- Never warm up a vehicle in an enclosed area, such as a garage.
- Do not use cruise control when driving on any slippery surface, such as on ice and snow.
- Driving tips
- Only go out if it is necessary
- If going out, drive slowly. Driving in snow and ice is not the same as warm weather driving.
- Accelerate and decelerate slowly. Apply the gas slowly to regain traction and avoid skids. Don’t try to get moving in a hurry and take time to slow down for a stoplight. Remember: It takes longer to slow down on icy roads.
- Increase your following distance to five to six seconds. This increased margin of safety will provide the longer distance needed if you have to stop.
- Know your brakes. Whether you have antilock brakes or not, keep the heel of your foot on the floor and use the ball of your foot to apply firm, steady pressure on the brake pedal.
- Don’t stop if you can avoid it. There’s a big difference in the amount of inertia it takes to start moving from a full stop versus how much it takes to get moving while still rolling. If you can slow down enough to keep rolling until a traffic light changes, do it.
- Don’t power up hills. Applying extra gas on snow-covered roads will just make your wheels spin. Try to get a little inertia going before you reach the hill and let that inertia carry you to the top. As you reach the crest of the hill, reduce your speed and proceed downhill slowly.
- Don’t stop going up a hill. There’s nothing worse than trying to get moving up a hill on an icy road. Get some inertia going on a flat roadway before you take on the hill.
- Never use cruise control
- Driving Long Distances
- Be Prepared: Have your vehicle checked by repair facility before hitting the road.
- Check the Weather: Check the weather along your route
- Before hitting the road, notify others and let them know your route, destination and estimated time of arrival.
- If you get stuck in the snow:
- Stay with your vehicle. Do not try to walk in a severe storm.
- When digging your vehicle out of a snowbank, listen to your body and stop if you become tired.
- If a car accident happens
- Place a bright or reflective cloth at the top of a rolled-up window to signal distress. At night, keep the dome light on if possible. It only uses a small amount of electricity and will make it easier for rescuers to find you.
- Clear the Exhaust Pipe. A blocked exhaust pipe can cause deadly carbon monoxide gas to leak into the passenger compartment of the vehicle while the engine is running.
- Conserve Fuel: If possible, only run the engine and heater long enough to remove the chill. This will help to conserve fuel.
Even though Houston never plans for snow, taking the above tips with you on your holiday travel can mean ALL the difference between tragic experiences and happy holidays. Your safety and health are important to all of those you will be visiting and colder climates can pose illness and accident not familiar to Houstonians, so travel safe and come back home safe.
For other holiday safety tips check out our article, “4 Common Dangers to Avoid for a Happy Houston Holiday”.