Over the River and Through the Woods

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Safety tips for winter car trips.
When it comes to road trips, it’s important to be prepared for an emergency any time of year. But it’s especially critical when hitting the road for a long drive during winter months. Sleet, ice, snow, strong winds, and frigid temperatures increase the risk of potential driving hazards, so it’s a good idea to think about ways to ensure you’ll travel—and arrive—safely.

Consider the following when preparing for your winter road trip:

Invest in an emergency kit for your vehicle. Available at most major retailers, these kits are relatively inexpensive and contain items like flares, booster cables, flashlights, ponchos, and first aid supplies for minor injuries.

Develop a contingency plan. Create a strategy for dealing with a flat tire, vehicle accident, dead battery, or other potential travel delays. Keep a hard-copy list of people or businesses to contact for help should you need it.

Stay in touch. Check in with a designated contact during your journey with updates on your location, delays encountered, or unexpected situations that require longer travel time. When driving, always remember to pull off the road before using your cell phone.

Check the local weather report before heading out. Winter weather can be tricky, and forecasts aren’t always accurate. You can double-check your destination’s weather history on a variety of websites to determine typical conditions to expect in that area during your travels.

Store warm clothes and blankets in your vehicle. Be prepared to stay warm if you’re stuck for extended periods by keeping a blanket or two in your car. Also, pack a small travel case with snow boots, socks, gloves, a scarf, hat, and heavy sweater in case you need to leave your vehicle.

Review your travel route without GPS. Read through detailed driving directions, including alternate routes, so you know your options. Also consider keeping a map handy in case your navigation system is compromised during your trip.

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