Prepare Your Vehicle for Winter

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By Maria Ordonez

The coldest months of the year are just around the corner. Don’t underestimate cold weather; check both the temperature and the wind chill before heading outdoors. Wind chill indicates how the air feels on your skin. It can vary dramatically from the actual temperature. Low wind chills and cold temperatures can have dangerous effects on your body, such as frostbite and hypothermia. Frostbite occurs when parts of your body freeze from prolonged exposure to the cold. Warning signs include numbness and skin that’s white or grayish-yellow and unusually firm or waxy. Hypothermia sets in when your body is losing heat faster than it can produce it. There are several stages of hypothermia, but common symptoms include: uncontrollable shivering, memory loss, disorientation, slurred speech and drowsiness. Victims with frostbite or hypothermia should receive immediate medical attention. Bundle up. If you must venture outside, layer up! Wear wool, silk or polypropylene inner layers and a tightly woven or wind-resistant outer layer. Finish off with the essentials: a hat, water-resistant boots and gloves or mittens. Remove layers as you warm up — sweat can aid in heat loss. Be prepared. Preparation is one of the best defenses against extreme cold. Review these winter weather tips from State Farm® to ready your vehicle.

Prepare Your Vehicle for Winter

The best time to get ready for winter is before the first storm of the season. Some items to check include:

  • Hoses and fan belts
  • Spark plugs
  • Antifreeze and windshield wiper fluid levels
  • Battery strength
  • Tire pressure and tread life
  • Air, fuel and emission filters
  • Spare tire and jack

Follow Winter Driving Recommendations

Winter driving has its own set of challenges, from the moment you start up your vehicle. Here are some useful winter driving suggestions:

  • Never warm up your vehicle in a closed garage.
  • Keep your gas tank at least half full to prevent gas line freeze-up.
  • Make sure your exhaust pipe is not clogged with mud or snow.
  • Don’t use cruise control on icy roads.
  • Allow more time for braking when visibility is poor.
  • Stay calm if you start to skid.

Carry Emergency Supplies

In addition to the just-in-case items you should always have in your vehicle, such as jumper cables (and learn how to jump-start your car safely,) tire-changing tools, flashlight and first aid kit, be sure to include these winter essentials:

  • Small folding shovel
  • Tow and tire chains
  • Basic tool kit
  • Bag of road salt or cat litter
  • Windshield wiper fluid
  • Antifreeze
  • Warning flares

Pack a Survival Kit

In case you’re ever marooned in your vehicle, you might want to keep a small survival kit on hand, in case of emergencies. Some useful items include:

  • Compass
  • Ice scraper and brush
  • Wooden matches
  • High-energy, non-perishable food
  • Cell phone charger
  • Blankets and warm clothing

Stay Calm if Stranded

If a winter storm strands you with your vehicle, follow these tips:

  • Pull off the highway; if possible, turn on your hazard lights or light flares, and hang a distress flag from an antenna or window.
  • Call 911 if you have a phone and describe your location as precisely as possible.
  • Remain in your vehicle so help can find you.
  • Run your vehicle’s engine and heater about 10 minutes each hour to keep warm. Open a downwind window slightly for ventilation and clear snow from the exhaust pipe to prevent carbon monoxide poisoning.
  • Exercise a little to maintain body heat, but avoid overexertion and sweating.
  • Drink fluids to avoid dehydration.
  • Conserve your vehicle’s battery. Use lights, heat and radio sparingly.
  • At night, turn on an inside light when you run the engine so help can see

This article was written by Maria Ordonez, State Farm Agent in Danbury. For more information, please call (203) 743-0664 or e-mail

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