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Winter driving: How to prepare

As winter progresses, extra care should be taken while driving.

Winter season in the Midwest can be a nightmare for even the most competent drivers. Any sort of precipitation, be it snow, sleet, or freezing rain, can cause traffic concerns. There are many available steps to take in order to prevent accidents and injuries that can be caused by driving in this type of weather.


When it come to driving in the winter, preparation is key, and it starts before you get into the car, and even before you leave your house. Seniors should also have an emergency plan incase the winter weather prevents a caregiver from reaching you.

The first step to being prepared for the winter weather might seem like common sense, but it is important to check what the weather is and what it is going to do during your travel time. Even if it is not snowing when you leave the house, the possibility of snow later that day should be noted. Snow can fall fast in Indiana. According to the Indiana State Climate Office, the record for snow falling in Indiana was set in 2004 with 30 inches falling in 24 hours. There are many different resources available on weather information, including TV, online, and mobile apps, which are all free and easily accessible.

The next step for weather preparedness while driving is to stock up your car with essentials in case you get into some trouble driving in the winter weather. Some items to keep in your car include:

  • ice scraper
  • bag of sand or kitty litter (both to weigh down your car if you have rear-wheel drive and to provide some traction for your tires if your car gets stuck in the snow)
  • extra anti-freeze
  • warm clothing
  • blanket
  • flashlight
  • first-aid kit
  • water
  • some food
  • snow shovel
  • any extra medical supplies (such as medication, oxygen tanks, hearing-aid batteries) in case of a long delay for help

It is also important to keep the gas tank at least half full to prevent the gas line from freezing up, check the wiper blades to make sure they work, and have plenty of air in the tires.

Getting into car trouble.

winterWhat should you do if, in spite of all your preparations and careful driving, you get into some car trouble in the winter? First, relax. Someone who is calm is much less likely to fumble or make a mistake while trying to get out of a situation. Seniors should not try to shovel snow unless they know they are healthy enough to do so. In the case that the car get stuck, the best decision is to stay in the car as it provides a shelter until help can get there. Have emergency numbers on hand so you know who to call, be it a family member, caregiver, or towing company.

Keep your car clear of snow and debris.

In the winter months, it is likely that your entire car will be covered with frost, snow, ice, or some combination of all three. Make sure that all the important surfaces, including windshield, windows, mirrors, headlight, and roof are cleared off before you start driving! Neglecting to do so will obstruct your view of your surroundings, as well as endangering other drivers as snow cascading off of your car obstructs their views. While clearing off your car may take some time and effort, refusing to do so can be illegal. Seniors should be careful to not strain their muscles and not get out of breath to protect their heart. One way to avoid the hassle of clearing off your car is to park in a garage or other covered area.

While driving in winter weather, slow and steady will always win the race.

Accelerate, brake, and take corners slowly to avoid skidding. Follow other cars at a greater distance than normal to give yourself plenty of time to brake. Be aware of what drivers are doing around you, as others may not be taking the same precautions that you are. As always, remember to wear a seatbelt. Seniors should not drive in winter weather if they are having issues with their vision or movement – including the flexibility to check blind spots. If you are a senior and do not feel comfortable driving in bad weather, don’t. There are many alternative transportation options available, including busses, friends, and driving services.

Making preparations and taking precautions will make all the difference when it comes to winter weather driving. If you know a senior who will be driving in bad weather, give them a hand. Shovel and salt their sidewalks and driveways, offer to personally drive them places, or at least know where they are going and when they will be back. That way you can alert someone that they might be in trouble in the case they don’t return when they say they will. These small precautions do not take much time, but they save lives.


Angels Senior Home Solutions is a based-in-faith company that provides in-home healthcare and personal care services for seniors. Visit our website here or find us on Facebook!


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