Driving in the snow and ice is just a part of living in the Black Hills. From steering into a skid to warming your car, we’ve got a list of some good things to remember about driving during a winter storm. So, here’s some pointers to keep you safe and warm until April. Or May. Oh gosh. It’s not going to still be snowing in May, is it?
Let’s start with your windshield. If you park your car outside overnight, you’re probably going to discover a lovely icy coating on your windshield and windows a few mornings throughout the winter. Find your ice scraper and clear the whole thing — and the windows.
And don’t, as AAA tells us, try to clear your frozen windshield with boiling water. The sudden change in temperature can cause major problems, including cracking or shattering the glass of your windshield.
Drive the Conditions
Driving conditions can change in an instant during a Black Hills winter storm. When you suspect ice, give yourself extra time to arrive at your destination. Don Hendrick, the Police Chief in Rapid City said on the City’s website, “When it comes to winter storm events, the best advice is if you don’t need to travel or be on city or area roads, stay at home and wait out the storm.”
If you do have to brave the storm, remember these three snowy driving tips:
- Drive slowly and smoothly
- Give yourself plenty of room and time to brake.
- If your car begins to skid, try not to panic. It might feel weird, but steer gently into the skid to get out of it. Don’t slam on your brakes.
Prepare a survival kit for your car. Alexa White from Pennington County Emergency Management said on the Rapid City Municipal website, “Your winter storm kit for your car should include: sleeping bag or blankets, matches and candles, winter clothing, food, first-aid kit, pocket knife, flashlight and radio with extra batteries for each, a bag of sand and shovel, tire chains and tools, windshield scraper, battery jumper cables and two coffee cans.”
Why the coffee cans? Alexa explained, “Small supplies can be kept in the coffee cans when stranded, one can be used for personal sanitation needs and the other to burn the candles in for heat. When burning a candle, leave a down-wind window slightly open for air circulation and ventilation. Carbon monoxide poisoning can happen without the victim being aware of it until it’s too late.”
Warming Your Car
If you park your car outside, you can avoid the joy of scraping a windshield in the morning by thinking ahead and preheating your car for a few minutes. Plus, you get to drive in a toasty car. If your car has a remote start, even better!
Just remember, if you keep your car in a garage that’s attached to your house, never preheat your car in the garage with the garage door shut. Running your car with the garage door closed could be deadly — carbon monoxide from the car’s exhaust could make its way into the house. So, just leave the garage door open while you preheat.
This isn’t about your car, but it’s important to remember to make sure you have anything you’ll need prior to a major winter storm. That would include food, diapers (if you have a baby), medication, flashlights (in case the power goes out) and a radio.
Also, Jason Culberson, the Firechief in Rapid City reminded us to “check with elderly or disabled neighbors to see if you can assist them with their snow removal.”
Good tip, Chief. Be kind. Stay warm.