Winter in the South can be full of surprises, and that’s why Army officials want to make sure those on post are prepared when hitting the roads in conditions many in the area aren’t accustomed to.
People on the installation should be ready for anything, especially when hitting the roads, according to Rebecca Ghostley, garrison safety director, Fort Rucker, Alabama.
Ghostley suggests that people stay prepared by making sure their vehicles are in tip-top shape before they take long trips or venture out in less-than-favorable weather conditions.
People should take the necessary steps to make sure their vehicles are prepared for the season before winter weather hits, said Ghostley, adding that they can make sure they’re ready by having necessary maintenance checks performed.
Families should make sure they get an engine tune up and check to make sure that all lights are in good working order, said Ghostley. They should also have their brakes adjusted, and have their battery and voltage regulator checked, as well.
To ensure that their vehicle’s engine is able to perform in colder weather, people should switch to winter-weight oil if they aren’t already using all-season oil and make sure to check tires, she said.
When checking tires, people should check tire tread to make sure the tires aren’t too worn and ensure the tires are properly inflated, Ghostley added.
Having a car in proper working order isn’t the only thing people should consider before heading out on trips, said Ghostley, who offered up tips people should consider before taking an extended trip:
Get plenty of sleep the night before and never drive while tired
Map out a route prior to leaving
Let others know their route, destination and estimated time of arrival
Check weather forecast along the route and avoid traveling in areas with advisories
Never warm up a vehicle in an enclosed area due to possible carbon monoxide poisoning
Prepare an emergency kit in the event they become stranded
An emergency kit should include blankets, warm clothing, food and water, booster cables, flares, flashlights, battery-powered radio with extra batteries, cell phone, first-aid kit and any needed medications, said Ghostley.
While driving, people should always take extra caution, especially while driving in inclement weather.
“Always ensure everyone in the car is buckled up and take a break at least every two hours,” she said.
“Never use cruise control when driving on slippery or wet surfaces, and make sure you’re familiar with your braking system before attempting to drive on wet or slick roads.
Be extra careful when it rains after an extended dry period because oil build up on the road will create an ultra-slick surface.
“People should always maintain a safe following distance behind another vehicle,” Ghostley added. “Depending on road conditions and speed, the following distance can vary between three to 10 seconds from the vehicle in front of you, with a minimum of six seconds during inclement weather.”
In the event that Families become snow-bound or stranded, she said the best course of action is to stay with the vehicle, which will provide a temporary shelter and make it easier for rescuers to locate them.
Additionally, people should continue to move their arms and legs to keep blood flowing; tie a bright cloth on their antenna to signal they’re in distress; turn on the dome light at night; make sure the tailpipe isn’t blocked or clogged with snow or mud; run the engine and heater no more than 10 minutes every hour to conserve gasoline; and keep a downwind window open for ventilation.