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September 15, 2003
How To Weather A Winter Storm


Jim Rink (313) 336-1513

Severe weather can be both frightening and dangerous for automobile travel. Motorists should know the safety rules for dealing with winter road emergencies, AAA Michigan said.

“During AAA Winter Car Care Month in October, AAA is educating motorists on what to do if they become stranded in their vehicle during a snow or ice storm,” said Automotive Services Director Robert Kaczor.

“If your vehicle becomes stuck and you are stranded, don’t panic,” Kaczor said. “By remaining calm, a stranded motorist can think more clearly about how to respond to the situation.” AAA recommends the following safety tips for long-distance winter trips:

  • Watch weather reports prior to any long-distance drive or before driving in isolated areas. Delay trips when especially bad weather is expected. If you must leave, let others know your route, destination and estimated time of arrival.
  • Always make sure your vehicle is in peak operating condition by having it inspected by a AAA Approved Auto Repair facility (free during Winter Car Care month). There are more than 90 AAA approved shops in Michigan and you can find them on the Internet, or by calling your local AAA club.
  • Keep at least half a tank of gasoline in your vehicle at all times.
  • Pack a cellular telephone with the telephone number of your motor club, plus blankets, gloves, boots, hats, food, water and any needed medication in your vehicle.
  • If you become snowbound, stay with your vehicle. It provides excellent temporary shelter and makes it easier for rescuers to locate you. Don’t try to walk in a severe storm. It is easy to loose sight of your vehicle in blowing snow and become lost.
  • Don’t overexert yourself if you try to push or dig your vehicle out of the snow.
  • Tie a brightly colored cloth to the antenna or place a cloth at the top of a rolled up window to signal distress. At night, keep the dome light on if possible. It only uses a small amount of electricity and will make it easier for rescuers to find you.
  • Make sure the exhaust pipe is not clogged with snow, ice or mud. A blocked exhaust could cause deadly carbon monoxide gas to leak into the passenger compartment with the engine running. For fresh air, open a window slightly on the side away from the wind and be sure snow or frost does not block ventilation.
  • Use whatever is available to insulate your body from the cold. This could include placing floor mats, newspapers or paper maps between yourself and your clothing.
  • If possible run the engine and heater just long enough to remove the chill and to conserve gasoline.

As North America's largest motoring and leisure travel organization, AAA provides more than 46 million members with travel, insurance, financial and automotive-related services. Since its founding in 1902, the not-for-profit, fully tax-paying AAA has been a leader and advocate for the safety and security of all travelers.

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