October 2012 Health Beat

Karen’s Kolumn is written by Karen Dolley, R.N. and Grange Friend… we appreciate her knowledge and her willingness to share!

We know… you don’t want to think about it!

Winter driving conditions in Maine can be dangerous! The best time to prepare for winter weather driving is before winter arrives. The Three P’s of Safe Winter Driving are Prepare for the trip; Protect yourself; and Prevent crashes.

There are many things you can do to prepare your vehicle for the winter months. Make sure tires are properly inflated and have the tread needed for traction. Replace a weak battery. Make sure all lights are working and make sure they are clean. Check all fluid levels including windshield washer fluid and make sure they are all full. Replace windshield wipers that streak. Check for proper operation of your brake system. Replace worn spark plugs.

When you have to drive in winter weather conditions, make sure to remove ice and snow from your vehicle. This includes ice and snow on windshields, headlights, rear lights, directional lights, and brake lights. Warm up your vehicle before you start driving. Never warm up a vehicle in an enclosed area like a garage. Slow down! Posted speed limits are for ideal driving conditions. Be alert. Black ice can make a road look shiny. Always buckle up. Children 12 and under are safer in the back seat. Never drink and drive. Avoid driving if you are tired. Slow down when you are approaching a bridge because steel and concrete bridges are likely to be icy even when there is no ice on the road. Do not use cruise control when driving on slippery roads. Keep your gas tank at least half full to avoid gas line freeze up. Never leave your vehicle unattended with the engine running. Remember, stopping distances are longer on snow and ice.

Be prepared for an emergency. Keep a bag of sand, a snow shovel, an ice scraper, booster cables, extra windshield washer fluid, a blanket, a flashlight with extra batteries, warm clothing, a cell phone, a list of emergency numbers, warning devices like flares and triangles, and emergency food and drink in your car.

Remember, storm patterns can change very quickly. Do not take a chance if you do not have to go out. If you must go out, always let someone know where you are going and when you will be home.

For more information, visit AAA.com, www.Maine.gov/mema/weather/winter, www.osha.gov/Publications/SafeDriving, or dial 511 to check the road conditions in your area before leaving your home.