You may be thinking that we are a pest control service; why are we talking about safety tips for winter driving? Our technicians are on the road just about 365 days a year and often at all times of day or night. Winter driving is a part of life here at Accurate Pest Control, and our customers depend on us to be there when they need us.
We want our customers to be safe in their travels too. So, we thought we would share some tips for safe and prepared winter driving.
Prepare an emergency kit for winter driving.
Emergency kits come in a wide range of sizes and prices. Consumer reports share a list of the contents of a typical winter car emergency kit:
- Battery booster cables. You’ll want these in case you wind up with a dead battery or you need to help someone else with a dead battery.
- Ice scraper. Every car in the snow belt should have an ice scraper and a brush. Cheap scrapers are commonly found in the kits. It is better to carry a combination snow brush/scraper that makes clearing snow before traveling easier. In some states, clearing your car of all snow is the law. Even where it’s not, it’s just common courtesy so that your blowing snow doesn’t impair another driver’s vision.
- Portable shovel. These are handy for digging out a car buried by plows or stuck along the roadside and clearing space around a tailpipe for extended idling to prevent fumes from entering the vehicle. Also, keep a bag of sand handy in your trunk to help boost traction.
- Items to help if you’re stranded. Most kits come with a flashlight, and some include a signaling cone to warn oncoming cars of your presence. Pack backup batteries for that flashlight. Roadside triangles should be in every kit, and a reflective safety vest comes in some kits.
- Basic first-aid kit. Most emergency kits have one for the bare essentials, such as attending to a small cut. Add things that suit specific health needs, and know-how temperature may affect medicines.
- Cell phone charger. Almost everyone carries a smartphone attached to the hip nowadays, and a cell phone charger is a good thing to keep in the car, especially during the winter and on road trips.
- Other everyday items. Things such as gloves, a blanket, a rain poncho, wipes, and rags can help you stay clean and shield you from the elements. It’s a good idea to keep a pair of boots and a hat in the car, particularly if you’re often driving in snowy conditions.
We also suggest always keeping your car above a half tank of gas, and each time you pump gas, inspect your tires for wear and proper inflation.
Driving in winter conditions
Recent ice and snowstorm crippled the Washington, DC, and Virginia stretch of the I95 corridor stranding motorists for nearly 24 hours. An emergency kit as described above may have helped a bit, especially blankets and extra winter gear.
Driving is necessary and can’t be avoided in many cases, so how can you best drive in extreme winter conditions. The experienced people at AAA share their thoughts on winter driving tips stating that “nearly half a million crashes and more than 2,000 road deaths every winter, according to research by the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety.”
- Stay home. Only go out if necessary. Even if you can drive well in bad weather, it’s better to avoid taking unnecessary risks by venturing out.
- Drive slowly. Constantly adjust your speed down to account for lower traction when driving on snow or ice.
- 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.
Your home is safe and warm, and we want you to keep it that way.
Winter is beautiful sitting at home watching the snowflakes fall and enjoying a cup of hot chocolate. As pest control professionals, we also know the damage that winter can cause and the long-term effects of not adequately addressing and correcting the problems.
Accumulating snow can be heavy and cause damage to gutters and siding. Structural damage can also occur, creating the risk of leaking into attics and ceilings. You may overlook an issue with pests now, but once the thaw begins in late March and early April, softened wood frames and wet insulation can be a breeding ground for pests and mold. Mice only need an entry point the size of a quarter to enter. Droppings can present a health risk. A roof rake is a good investment for all homeowners.
Should structural damage occur, our Mold, Restoration, and Construction team are ready to access the damages, clean up and repair the affected area and return your home to a safe and healthy environment for you and your family.
Be safe both at home and on the road. Call us for service or inspection at any time, and we will be there, sun or snow!
Resources: Consumer Reports, AAA