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Tips to get you and your vehicle ready for winter

By Cullen Schultz
Staff Writer

Winter is right around the corner. Are you and your vehicle ready?

Here are some tips to keep you safe and your vehicle running during the upcoming winter season.

Snowfall will be here shortly and can continue throughout May, so it is very important to get your vehicles prepared.

According to John Tackaberry, owner of Star West, the first step is preventive maintenance. If your vehicle is not running normal, get it checked and address the problem.

“To ensure it starts when its 30 below,” Tackaberry said.

Also let your vehicle warm up – don’t start and go. Give your automobile a chance to get all of its systems running normal because it will respond better heated, than if it’s cold.

There are three important factors to keep your car running smoothly: a good battery, good fuel, and good tires.

“Good tires are very important,” commented Steve Jaunich of Jaunich Tire.

In order to maintain good fuel, make sure to always have at least a half tank of gas, especially if your vehicle is not driven on a daily basis. The fuel will not maintain its quality in the cold weather, and the less the fuel in your tank, the lesser the quality. Consider using additives such as SeaFoam or Stable, to help maintain the quality, he said.

Safety equipment should always be stored in your vehicle. According to the Minnesota Department of Transportation (MnDOT), you should have equipment in your vehicle such as booster cables, blankets, boots, gloves, road flairs, stocking hat, windshield scraper, and a survival kit.

Survival kits vary depending on where you live, but generally consist of hand warmers, first aid supplies, candles, matches, change for phone calls, and a metal container used to melt water in for drinking.

Driving safe and responsibly will reduce your chance of having to use safety equipment this winter. Know the weather conditions before you drive, if there is a storm, use common sense and don’t drive a long distance if it isn’t required.

If you have to drive, let someone know you are leaving, and call when you arrive, so someone knows you have arrived safely.

When you are driving, stay off of your cell phone, make sure you lights are on, and do not use your cruise control.

By turning off your cruise control, it will give you better awareness, and could give you that split second needed to avoid a crash or the ditch. According to the MnDOT, pay special attention to black ice, especially around surfaces like entrance and exit ramps, and bridge decks.

If you get caught in a storm, look for a snowplow and follow it, because it will leave you with the safest place to drive.

Be sure to stay a minimum of five car lengths behind the plow, so the snowplow driver can see you.

In a scenario that one would get stranded in a storm, you should dial 911 immediately, with your cell phone or if there is a place extremely close. According to the MnDOT, if these options aren’t available to you, you should keep calm and stay in your vehicle.

The storm will not last forever, and someone will find you. Don’t attempt to walk long distances or try to get out of your vehicle; it will cause you to be exposed to the elements, leading to exposure, and possible death.

Stay warm by running your vehicle for short periods of time, making sure to keep a downwind window cracked, and unblocking your exhaust pipe.

It is very important that you do this, or it is possible to succumb to carbon monoxide fumes.

While your vehicle is turned off, a way to stay warm is by changing your seating position, and losing tight clothing, which will allow your blood to circulate. Put your hands in key positions such as your armpits or between your legs.

Winter is almost here, be prepared, use common sense, and drive safely.

For driving condition information this winter you can call the 24-hour information line at 1-800-542-0220 or visit the web site at www.511mn.org.

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