BRYAN, Texas — Whether you've lived through winter weather your whole life, have only experienced it sometimes or have no idea what to expect, this guide can serve as a reminder of what you should do to prepare when it comes to freezing temperatures.
RELATED: WEATHER CLOSINGS & DELAYS
Driving in winter conditions
When it comes to ice and snow on the roads, it's simple: don't drive unless you absolutely have to. Remember, even if you are skilled at maneuvering your car down ice-covered streets and highways, there are others out there who have never driven in those conditions. Remember, when crashes during winter weather conditions happen, law enforcement and first responders are also put at risk trying to rescue and help people who did not heed the warning.
This tweet from the Lawrence, Kansas Police Department, which is making its rounds again on social media, is also a good reminder of winter driving:
Also, if you don't follow their Twitter account, it's actually a lot of fun to read through as you're staying warm inside and off the roads.
If you must be out driving on the roads, make sure you have the following items in your car:
- Winter weather gear: mittens, stocking hats, scarves, socks, boots
- Jumper cables
- Ice scraper
- Multi-tool (Swiss Army Knife)
- First Aid Kit
- Paper maps
- Road flares or reflective triangles
- Kitty litter
- Bottled water
- Non-perishable food (beef jerky, granola, nuts, dried fruit, peanut butter)
- Hard candy
What to do if you are stuck waiting for help:
- Before you keep your car running for heat, if you can, get out of the car and take a look around your vehicle. Make sure your tailpipe is clear from debris and snow. If it's not, make sure it's clear so you can keep your car running safely.
- Stay with your car. With freezing temperatures, trying to walk to get help could put you more at risk. Unless your vehicle proves to be a hazard, you need to use it for shelter.
- Beware of what is commonly called black ice. Black ice is thin, transparent ice that blends in with the color of the road and you often won't see it until your car slides on it.
- If your car starts to slide, drive in the direction your car is going. If your back end starts sliding left, take your foot OFF the brake and steer left. Don't brake on ice. Take your foot off the pedals and steer.
- Do not use cruise control.
Preparing your vehicle for winter weather
Before you even think about getting out on the road to drive in unfavorable conditions, make sure your car is ready to handle the icy and snowy road. AAA advised you should remember to "BET on your car: check your Battery, Engine, Tires."
Make sure your battery is in good working order. If it's not, it's time to change it out.
Check your engine and refill all your liquids: coolant, windshield washer, etc.
Check your tires. Make sure they are at the proper PSI. With cold weather, your tire pressure drops. Putting improperly inflated tires on a road is risky, putting them on icy roads is downright dangerous.
Protect the three Ps: Pets, pipes, plants
When the temperature drops, one local plumber says to remember the three P’s.
“That’s going to be your pets, your pipes and your plants. So with your pipes, just if you can, insulate them, leave a faucet or something like that dripping over night that will definitely help as well. Pets, definitely bring them in. It’s going to be cold out there. Plants, cover them,” said Hartman's Handyman Service owner Coleman Hartman.
If you don't leave your faucet dripping, your pipes could freeze.
"It could cause the pipes to burst and therefore lead to extensive water damage. And then of course, if you don’t see that right away, it could lead to mold and things like that, then you have to call someone like me to get out there and have a pretty extensive fix," said Hartman.
Be careful with those space heaters, generators!
With winter weather, power outages could put you in the dark and cold for awhile so it's good to make sure you've got a backup plan. But if you don't know how to run your space heater or generator safely, then you'll have a new problem on your hands.
Carbon monoxide poisoning can happen if you are running a generator in a closed space. Carbon monoxide is a colorless, odorless gas and it can cause death in a short amount of time. If you are using a generator, remember the following:
- Never use a generator inside a home, garage or enclosed area
- Keep generators outdoors, away from vents, doors and windows
If you're using a space heater for warmth, beware of the risk of fire associated with them. If you need to use one, make sure you do the following:
- Choose a safe product. Don't bargain hunt, but look for a product that has been tested by a third party for safety, such as UL listed or UL rated. Look for a product that has an automatic shut-off if it is tipped over.
- Follow the 3-foot rule. Keep anything that could catch on fire or burn at least three feet away from it.
- Make sure you have battery operated smoke detectors and carbon monoxide detectors.
- Do not run it unattended, including going to sleep. Don't trust the timers, either. They can give you a false sense of security.