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Plan & Prepare

Winter Weather Preparedness: Safety on the Road

Avoid driving during a winter storm unless it’s necessary. Blowing snow, icy slick spots and fewer daylight hours all create hazards. If you must drive, use this information for a safe trip.

Winterize your vehicle

Have a mechanic check the following:

  • Battery
  • Wipers and windshield washer fluid
  • Antifreeze
  • Ignition system
  • Thermostat
  • Lights
  • Exhaust system
  • Flashing hazard lights
  • Heater
  • Brakes
  • Defroster
  • Oil level
  • Tires and air pressure. Consider getting snow tires or chains.

Before You Leave

  • Get a Kit - create an emergency kit for your car. Include items from the NJOEM Basic Preparedness page. Add cell phone and car charger, road maps, a shovel, windshield scraper, tow rope, booster cables, bright cloth to use as flag or distress signal, a bag of sand or non-clumping cat litter to place under tires if stuck in the snow.
  • Make a Plan - Fill your car’s gas tank and know where you can refuel on your way. Tell someone your travel plans: where you are going, planned route and expected arrival time. Call that person when you arrive at your destination.
  • Stay Informed.
    • Call 511 before you leave.
      Check on current road conditions on NJDOT's 511NJ web site
    • Tune your car radio to a local radio station that provides emergency watches, warnings and instructions.
    • Social Media.
      "Like" the NJOEM on Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/READYNEWJERSEY 
      Follow us on Twitter: https:/www.twitter.com/ReadyNJ.
      Be sure to sign up for Twitter Alerts at the NJOEM account set up page so you can receive a direct notification to your phone whenever NJOEM issues an alert.
    • Nixle Connect allows the NJ State Police and the NJOEM to send messages to the public by text/SMS, e-mail, and Internet posts. Register to receive messages by sending a text message with your zip code to 888777 (data rates may apply depending on your plan). You can also register on-line at www.nixle.com.
    • NJ Alert is a free, voluntary and confidential emergency alerting system that allows NJOEM officials to send e-mail or text messages to cell phones and other email enabled devices during an emergency. Sign up for NJ Alert by logging on to: http://www.njalert.gov.
    • Cellular Mobile Emergency Alert System (CMAS). The National Weather Service can now send free weather warnings directly to your phone if a hazard is imminent in New Jersey. Check with your wireless carrier to see if your wireless phone is WEA (Wireless Emergency Alert) enabled to receive these messages.

On The Road

  • Buckle up - secure yourself and all passengers.
  • Brake properly to avoid skidding. If driving on snow or ice, start slowly and brake gently. Begin braking early when you come to an intersection.
  • If you start to slide: ease off the gas pedal or brakes. Steer into the direction of the skid until you regain traction then straighten your vehicle. If you have antilock brakes, apply steady pressure.
  • Expect decreased visibility 
    • In fog, drive with headlights set on dim or use fog lights.
    • In rain, fog, snow or sleet, stay within the limits of your vision. Pull off the road and stop if you can’t see clearly.
  • Slow down
    • Physically and mentally prepare to react quickly.
    • Drive slowly and increase your following distance. Adjust your speed for conditions. Match the flow of traffic.
    • Watch for slick spots.
  • Watch out for other vehicles:
    • Never try to pass a vehicle in blowing snow because there may be vehicles ahead you cannot see.
    • Watch for snowplows. When a plow is coming toward you, allow plenty of room for it to pass. Its blade may cross the centerline. Allow extra distance between your vehicle and service vehicles as they may be spreading salt.
    • Be careful when you approach a cloud of snow that obscures the road, especially on passing lanes of interstates or freeways. A snow plow may be ahead clearing the lane or preparing to turn around.
    • Be careful after any minor accident. If you are bumped from behind and do not feel comfortable exiting your vehicle, motion to the other driver and drive to the nearest safe place to stop, such as a 24-hour store.
  • Turn back and seek shelter if conditions become threatening

If You Become Stranded

  • Pull off the road as far as possible if you break down. Passing cars are your greatest danger.
  • Stay in the car. You may become disoriented and lost while wandering in a snowstorm.
  • Call for help if you have a cell phone.
  • Display a trouble sign. Attach a brightly colored cloth to your car's antenna.
  • Run the engine and the heater for 10 minutes each hour. This gives you a chance to warm up.
  • Clear snow away from the exhaust pipe and open a downwind window slightly for ventilation to avoid carbon monoxide poisoning.
  • Turn on your vehicle's interior light to make it easier for rescuers to find you.
  • Avoid overexertion. Cold weather puts added strain on the heart. Shoveling snow or pushing the car in freezing temperatures can cause a heart attack or make other medical conditions worse.
  • Watch out for hypothermia or frostbite:
    • Hypothermia signs include uncontrollable shivering, memory lapses and drowsiness.
    • Frostbite symptoms include numb or pale fingers, toes, nose and ears.
    • Warm the torso area first and work outward, finishing with the extremities. Use ablanket. Occasionally moving arms and legs will stimulate circulation

Further Reading:

General Preparedness:

Safe Driving:

 

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New Jersey Office of Emergency Management
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