We live in a commuter culture, and we often take safety for granted when traveling the highways and roads during inclement weather. Focus on the following tips when planning winter travel to help you arrive safely, whether it’s a vacation destination or part of your workday.
Practice proper vehicle maintenance
As the adage goes, “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.” Cars need checkups just like their owners do. Have your mechanic check your vehicle’s battery, antifreeze, wipers and windshield washer fluid, ignition system, thermostat, belts and hoses, lights, flashing hazard lights, exhaust system, heater, brakes, defroster, tire tread and oil level. During winter weather, it’s a good idea to carry a windshield scraper for ice and snow removal, as well as extra gloves and a hat.
Have an emergency kit
Part of being prepared for travel – whether it’s a day trip for work or the beginning of a vacation – is having an emergency kit in your vehicle. Be sure your car has plenty of gas before setting out on a trip…don’t let a weather delay, a traffic jam, or an unexpected detour cause you to run low on fuel. Pack an emergency kit that includes blankets, a flashlight, cell phone with charger and extra batteries, a small shovel, a first aid kit, non-perishable food, a change of clothes and a water container. That way, if you wind up stuck alongside the highway in the snow, you’ll be more comfortable and prepared to spend time waiting for assistance.
Prepare for the unexpected
The American Red Cross asks that you prepare for the unexpected. Here are a few additional tips to make your trip safer:
- Let someone know your destination, your route, and when you expect to arrive. If your car gets stuck along the way, help can be sent along your predetermined route.
- Research what type of disasters could potentially occur in the place where you are traveling, especially if they are disasters you have never experienced before. Find out how you would get information in the event of a disaster (e.g. local radio systems, emergency alert systems).
- Pay attention to the weather forecast for your travel route and destination. Travel and weather websites can help you avoid storms and other regional challenges that could impact your safety.
- Don’t let your vehicle’s gas tank get too low.
Travel safely with animals
If you are traveling with a pet, here are two things you should know to make their trip – and yours – more enjoyable.
- Always attach a leash to your pet’s collar or harness (or make sure the pet is secured in a crate) before opening the car door to get out of your vehicle. An anxious animal my be ready to get out of the car as well, and leap into harm’s way.
- Never place your pet in the front seat of the car while driving, or on your lap. Not only can this pose a distraction for you as the driver, it isn’t safe for the pet in the event of an accident or emergency maneuver.
If you or your team travels for work, a Professional Employer Organization (PEO) can offer risk management and safety training, as well as assisting with OSHA compliance and workers’ compensation claims. Having access to a team of experts during every season ensures that your workplace is safer and your team members have a great resource at their disposal.
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