Get your vehicle ready before winter storms

Trisha Gedon OSU communications specialist
Consider putting together a winter emergency kit for your vehicle. The kit would include an ice scraper, first aid kit, flashlight and nonperishable food items. Oklahoma State University

STILLWATER — When the weather forecast starts with “baby, it’s cold outside,” Oklahomans need to get prepared for winter weather.

Preparing is more than going to the grocery store for bread, milk and eggs. Drivers across Oklahoma need to make sure their vehicle is in good condition, and it is a good idea to prepare an emergency kit for your vehicle, too, said Gina Peek, Oklahoma State University Cooperative Extension housing and consumer specialist.

“If you’ve lived in Oklahoma for even a short amount of time, you know the weather can change quickly. Being organized and prepared ahead of a storm is a much better plan than waiting until there’s half an inch of ice covering every outdoor surface,” Peek said. “Making sure your car or truck is in tiptop shape will help ensure you’re able to make it from point A to point B as easily as possible.”

Consider putting together a winter emergency kit in your vehicle. Some items to include are a windshield scraper, first aid kit, flashlight, water, some nonperishable snack foods, blankets and jumper cables. You also may want to keep a small bag in the car containing an extra hat, socks and gloves or mittens.

Most of these items can fit into a small plastic container that will keep them organized and handy in the event they are needed.

If you get to your car and it’s covered with snow and ice, take action.

“Be sure to clear off your entire windshield, side windows and back windshield. Scraping a spot the size of a salad plate to see through isn’t safe for you or others on the road,” she said. “Having a clear view through the windshield is imperative.”

When the weather is cold and your windshield is covered with frost, snow or ice is not the time to discover your windshield wiper equipment does not work. Replace the windshield wipers if necessary. They are not terribly expensive and can make a big difference when you are on the road. Check your windshield wiper fluid as well. If it needs topped off, use a windshield wiper fluid that contains deicer.

Also, check the coolant fluid levels in your vehicle. Coolant is commonly called antifreeze. It will help your car operate in colder temperatures.

Consider a tune up, if needed. A professional will check the car over for safety.

Peek said tire traction is essential at all times, but especially on slick winter roads, so make sure your tires have adequate tread.

“Typically, Oklahoma winters are somewhat mild in comparison to other parts of the country, but we all know how quickly storms can move in and make travel dangerous,” Peek said. “Being prepared ahead of time can certainly make things easier in the event of a big storm.”