Winter driving can be serious business. Plan ahead and be prepared. Winter weather conditions present challenges to your vehicle and to your safety.
The following items should be kept in your vehicle throughout the winter:
- Sand, salt or kitty litter
- Traction mats
- Tow bar or chain
- Cloth or roll of paper towels
- Warning light or road flares
- First-aid kit
- Extra clothing and footwear
- Blankets ("survival" blankets are compact and work well)
- Emergency food pack
- Axe or hatchet
- Booster cables
- Ice scraper and brush
- Road maps
- Matches and a "survival" candle in a deep can
- Fire extinguisher
- Methyl hydrate (for fuel line and windshield de-icing)
Always heed the warnings of the local weather offices of Environment Canada. If you must drive in bad weather, make sure that you have plenty of fuel and let someone know your route and intended arrival time.
If severe winter traps you in your vehicle, remember these tips:
- Pull off the road, turn hazard lights on, and hang a distress flag from the radio aerial or window. Remain in your vehicle, rescuers are most likely to find you there.
- Conserve fuel. Run the engine and heater about 10 minutes each hour to keep warm, cracking a downwind window slightly to prevent carbon monoxide poisoning. Exercise to maintain body heat but don't overexert. Huddle with other passengers and use your coat for a blanket.
- In extreme cold, use road maps, seat covers, floor mats, newspapers or extra clothing for covering--anything to provide additional insulation and warmth.
- Turn on the inside dome light so rescue teams can see you at night, but be careful not to run down the battery.
- In remote areas, after the storm has passed, spread a large cloth over the snow to attract the attention of rescue planes.
- Do not set out on foot unless you can see a building close by where you know you can take shelter.
- Once the severe weather has passed, you may need to leave the car and proceed on foot. Follow the road if possible. If you need to walk across open country, use distant points as landmarks to help maintain your sense of direction.