Whether you’re taking a ski trip to the mountains, going to an out-of-town tournament, or taking a trip to visit the grandparents, winter can be full of fun trips. As the season sneaks up, we want to help you keep those great trips safe and have some tips you can follow so you’re more confident next time your family hits the road.
Before your trip:
- Winterize your car. Even if you’re not planning a road trip, check your tires (including the spare), battery, belts, hoses, anti-freeze, brakes, heater, defroster and windshield wipers.
- Pack an emergency road kit. With a few exceptions to the items listed here, AMA has convenient ready-to-take-home emergency road kits available at any of our centres.
- Make sure that everyone’s cell phones are fully charged.
- Check the road conditions. Visit amaroadreports.ca or download the AMA Road Reporter App for up-to-date information as you travel.
What to include in your emergency road kit:
- First aid kit
- Fire extinguisher
- Road map and compass
- Extra clothes and footwear
- Paper towels or rags
- Sand, road salt or non-clumpy kitty litter
- Ice scraper and snowbrush
- Candle in a deep tin
- Waterproof matches
- Booster cables
- Flashlight with spare batteries
- Water and snack food
During your trip:
- Top up your tank. Keeping your gas tank more than half full adds weight to your vehicle and prevents gas line freezing. And you’ll want the extra fuel if you ever become stranded.
- Drive for the conditions. Speed limits are posted for ideal conditions, not when the road is icy or snow-covered.
- Never use cruise control in less than ideal winter conditions. It’s easier to feel the road and gauge its conditions with your foot on the pedal.
- Pay attention to posted wildlife signs. Signs are placed in areas where wildlife is known to cross the highway.
- If you spot wildlife beside the road, slow down and pass them carefully. Animals are unpredictable and often travel in groups, so if you see one, there are likely others in the area.
- We know it’s easier said than done when you’re in the moment, but if you can’t avoid hitting an animal, try not to swerve suddenly. This can cause you to go out of control or hit another vehicle, causing a more severe crash. Try to reduce the impact by braking firmly and hitting the animal at an angle.
- Avoid driving at night, since most animal migration happens around dusk and the early morning.
If you’re stranded:
- Stay put. It’s easy to become disoriented in a snowstorm, so your vehicle is the safest place to be. Don’t leave your vehicle unless you know there’s shelter nearby.
- Remove snow from the exhaust pipe as a clogged exhaust can be fatal if the carbon monoxide moves into the passenger cabin.
- Dress in several layers of clothing and make sure that everyone’s heads are covered. Move your arms and legs often and try to stay awake as long as possible.
- To conserve fuel, only run the engine and heater for 10 minutes each hour.
- Make yourself visible by turning on the interior lights when the vehicle is running or tying a red cloth or safety ribbon to your antenna. We conveniently include a reflective triangle and S.O.S. banner in our emergency road kits. You can pick one up at any of our centres.