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Virginia Wing Vehicle Operations Safety Site
Winter Storm Advisory: Safe Driving Tips

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With a major winter storm bearing down on the region within the next day and snowfalls predicted anywhere from two to ten inches (depending upon where you are) I wanted to simply remind our Vehicle Operators (both of our Auxiliary vehicles and our own POV's) of a few driving tips.
 
 
Being  prepared before the winter storm hits is the first step.  Ensure that your vehicles wiper blades are in good condition and that you have plenty of windshield washer fluid available.  You may want to consider the purchase of "winter wipers" which are equiped with a rubber sheath that prevents ice buildup within the wiper assembly itself.
 
Your battery should be strong.  Cold weather can sap the strength of a car/truck battery and leave you stranded.
 
When clearing snow/ice buildup from your vehicle be sure to clear the snow from off the top of your vehicle.  It is a safety hazard to those driving behind you who may be hit from it when it breaks free from your vehicle.  Don't forget to clear away snow and ice from all windows and your vehicles lights.
 
Adjust your speed accordingly.  In some regions a light snowfall may be sitting atop a layer of ice.  Know your local areas driving conditions and remember that ice forms first on overpasses and bridges.
 
Cold weather will also cause your tire pressures to drop as much as ten pounds.  Please check your tire pressures, your life is riding on them.
 
Dress warmly and wear layers of loose-fitting, layered, lightweight clothing.

If you happen to find yourself out on the roads and stranded due to weather conditions observe some of these suggestions.

Stay in the car.
Do not leave the car to search for assistance unless help is visible within 100 yards. You may become disoriented and lost is blowing and drifting snow.

Display a trouble sign.
Hang a brightly colored cloth on the radio antenna and raise the hood.

Occasionally run engine to keep warm.
Turn on the car's engine for about 10 minutes each hour. Run the heater when the car is running. Also, turn on the car's dome light when the car is running.

Beware of carbon monoxide poisoning. Keep the exhaust pipe clear of snow, and open a downwind window slightly for ventilation.

Watch for signs of frostbite and hypothermia.

Do minor exercises to keep up circulation.

Clap hands and move arms and legs occasionally. Try not to stay in one position for too long. If more than one person is in the car, take turns sleeping.

For warmth, huddle together.

Use newspapers, maps, and even the removable car mats for added insulation.

Avoid overexertion.
Cold weather puts an added strain on the heart. Unaccustomed exercise such as shoveling snow or pushing a car can bring on a heart attack or make other medical conditions worse. Be aware of symptoms of dehydration.

Wind Chill
"Wind chill" is a calculation of how cold it feels outside when the effects of temperature and wind speed are combined. A strong wind combined with a temperature of just below freezing can have the same effect as a still air temperature about 35 degrees colder.

Winter Storm Watches and Warnings
A winter storm watch indicates that severe winter weather may affect your area. A winter storm warning indicates that severe winter weather conditions are definitely on the way.

A blizzard warning means that large amounts of falling or blowing snow and sustained winds of at least 35 miles per hour are expected for several hours.

Frostbite and Hypothermia
Frostbite is a severe reaction to cold exposure that can permanently damage its victims. A loss of feeling and a white or pale appearance in fingers, toes, or nose and ear lobes are symptoms of frostbite.

Hypothermia is a condition brought on when the body temperature drops to less than 90 degrees Fahrenheit. Symptoms of hypothermia include uncontrollable shivering, slow speech, memory lapses, frequent stumbling, drowsiness, and exhaustion.

If frostbite or hypothermia is suspected, begin warming the person slowly and seek immediate medical assistance. Warm the person's trunk first. Use your own body heat to help. Arms and legs should be warmed last because stimulation of the limbs can drive cold blood toward the heart and lead to heart failure.

Put person in dry clothing and wrap their entire body in a blanket.

Never give a frostbite or hypothermia victim something with caffeine in it (like coffee or tea) or alcohol. Caffeine, a stimulant, can cause the heart to beat faster and hasten the effects the cold has on the body. Alcohol, a depressant, can slow the heart and also hasten the ill effects of cold body temperatures.

Winter Storms Update Center

Just a few suggestions to make it through this winter storm.  Drive Safe, Stay Safe.
 
 

HQ VAWG, Transportation Directorate