Information Sheet - National Weather Service

The leading cause of death during winter storms is transportation accidents.

Preparing your vehicle for the winter season and knowing how to react if

stranded or lost on the road are the keys to safe winter driving.

Have a mechanic check the following items on your car.



         Wipers and windshield washer fluid

         Ignition system



         Flashing hazard lights

         Exhaust system




         Oil level (if necessary, replace existing oil with a winter grade
oil or the SAE 10w/30 weight variety)

Install good winter tires. Make sure the tires have adequate tread. All-weather radials are usually adequate for most winter conditions. However, some jurisdictions require that to drive on their roads, vehicles must be equipped with chains or snow tires with studs.

Keep a windshield scraper and small broom for ice and snow removal.

Maintain at least a half tank of gas during the winter season.

Plan long trips carefully. Listen to the radio or call the state highway patrol for the latest road conditions. Always travel during daylight and, if possible, take at least one other person.

Dress warmly. Wear layers of loose-fitting, layered, lightweight clothing.

Carry food and water. Store a supply of high energy "munchies" and several bottles of water.

Keep these items in your car:

         Flashlights with extra batteries

         First aid kit with pocket knife

         Necessary medications

         Several blankets

         Sleeping bags

         Extra newspapers for insulation

         Plastic bags (for sanitation)


         Extra set of mittens, socks, and a wool cap

         Rain gear and extra clothes

         Small shovel

         Small sack of sand for generating traction under wheels

         Small tools (pliers, wrench, screwdriver)

         Booster cables

         Set of tire chains or traction mats

         Cards, games, and puzzles

         Brightly colored cloth for a flag

         Canned fruit and nuts

         Non-electric can opener

         Bottled water


Stay in the car. Do not leave the car to search for assistance unless help is visible within 100 yards. You may become disoriented and lost in blowing and drifting snow.

Display a trouble sign. Hang a brightly colored cloth on the radio antenna and raise the car hood.

Occasionally run engine to keep warm. Turn on the car's engine for about 10 minutes each hour. Run the heater when the car is running. Also, turn on the car's dome light when the car is running. Beware of carbon monoxide poisoning. Keep the exhaust pipe clear of snow and open a downwind window slightly for ventilation.

Watch for signs of frostbite and hypothermia.

Do minor exercises to keep up circulation. Clap hands and move arms and legs occasionally. Try not to stay in one position for too long.

If more than one person is in the car, take turns sleeping.

For warmth, huddle together.  Use newspapers, maps, and even the removable car mats for added insulation.

Avoid overexertion. Cold weather puts an added strain on the heart. Unaccustomed exercise such as shoveling snow or pushing a car can bring on a heart attack or make other medical conditions worse. Be aware of symptoms of dehydration.

Contact your local Emergency Management Office or National Weather Service Office for more information on winter driving.

For information on winter weather terms….Click Here

Page Created by Steven Kisner, WCM

National Weather Service Hastings, NE

Last modified October 27, 2004 is the U.S. government's official web portal to all federal, state and local government web resources and services.