This storm season, the California Governor’s Office of Emergency Services (Cal OES) encourages all Californians to make sure they’re prepared to stay safe on the road.
With the holidays coming up, many Californians will travel to visit family, friends and loved ones. Before you hit the road, check out these tips for staying safe.
Pack an emergency kit for your car.
In case of unexpected delays or emergencies during winter weather, it’s essential to have an emergency kit packed in your vehicle. Your kit should include items such as a flashlight, extra batteries, a first aid kit, blankets, a portable phone charger and non-perishable snacks.
Make sure your car is well maintained.
Before you travel by car, you should follow these car maintenance tips:
- Check your tires
- Make sure your gas tank is full
- Replace worn windshield wiper blades
- Check your lights
- Inspect your brakes
- Fill up on winter wiper fluid
- Keep your battery in good shape
Be weather wise.
Check the weather as you plan your travel and try to avoid driving in severe rain or snow. Make sure you continue to watch for any updates to the forecast as your travel date gets closer. It’s also a good idea to do most driving during the daylight hours in the winter months, if possible.
Dress for winter weather.
Make sure you’re wearing weather-appropriate clothing to stay warm enough, especially if you get stuck in your vehicle.
Avoid flood waters.
During heavy rain, flooding may occur. You should never drive through flood waters—just 12 inches of rushing water can carry away most cars. When you see flooding, turn around.
Plan your route.
Try to stay on main roads and highways and choose a route with flat roads, if you can. Know possible safe places to stop along the route, if needed. It’s always a good idea to avoid driving alone and let others know the route you plan to take.
It’s important to check official sources when planning your route, such as QuickMap. Don’t rely on third-party apps or navigation tools to find a shortcut.
Know what to do if your car breaks down or you get stuck.
If you must stop, pull to a safe place close enough to the side of the road for others to see you and turn on your hazard lights. If safe to do so, it’s best to stay in your vehicle and out of the cold.
If you’re waiting for help for an extended period of time, you can run your engine for about ten minutes every hour to stay warm. Just make sure to check that your car’s exhaust pipe is clear first, and open a window slightly for ventilation.
If you have to spend the night in your car, turn on the interior overhead light so others, including rescuers and work crews, can see you.
Preparing before you hit the road and following these tips can help make your winter travel safer, so you can enjoy time with your loved ones.