More snow on the way: AAA offers tips for how to prepare
Forecasts are calling for more wintry weather and freezing rain across Virginia overnight Wednesday into Thursday with the potential to have a significant impact on the Thursday morning commute.
On Saturday, the freezing rain froze on contact, creating ice that caused major problems across the state. Dominion Energy reported nearly 300,000 customers were without power and heat at the height of the storm. Virginia State Police responded to more than 360 crashes and nearly 200 disabled vehicles across the state between midnight and 9 p.m. on Saturday.
“AAA reminds drivers not to get complacent and think just because some roads remained slushy last week that those same roads will not be a sheet of ice this time. Prepare now for the winter weather that is expected tomorrow.” said Morgan Dean, a senior specialist in public and government affairs for AAA. “So many of us run out for groceries ahead of a storm, but don’t forget to fill your gas tank and prepare your car in case it becomes encased in ice during the storm.”
Tips for preparing your vehicle for freezing rain and ice
- If you don’t have a garage, park your car in a carport. It will give a vehicle some protection from the elements. If you have no choice but to park outside; avoid parking under power lines, trees, and anything that might fall or drop ice and damage the vehicle.
- Park your car facing the east. The morning sun, even if it’s cold outside, might help melt the ice off of your car. Every little bit helps when it comes to thawing out a vehicle.
- Consider using de-icing spray on your windshield or covering it with a snow shield so that the snow and ice can’t bond to the window. Never pour hot liquids onto a windshield as the extreme temperature difference could cause it to crack and break.
- Cars only need about 30 seconds to warm up the engine components, but if your vehicle is frozen over, let it run longer to help loosen the ice. Never start or run a vehicle in a garage without proper ventilation. Make sure to clear all of the snow and ice off of a vehicle before setting out.
- Turn off your windshield wipers when you get out of the car.If they become frozen to the vehicle while in the on position, you can cause damage to the wipers when you start the vehicle.
- Consider covering the wipers with plastic bags or propping them away from the window so they don’t freeze to the glass.
- Wipe down doorjamb gaskets with silicon spray before the storm hits.It could keep the ice from bonding to the gasket rubber. Note: Check your vehicle owner’s manual and the product label to make sure it doesn’t pose a risk of causing damage to your vehicle.
- If the door lock is frozen, heating the tip of the key might help melt it enough to get the keep into the slot. Forcing it in can cause damage to the lock. A few squirts of de-icing spray will also melt the ice out of the lock. Make sure to keep your de-icing spray with you or inside your home, not in the car, or you won’t have access to it if the vehicle is frozen solid.
Assemble or replenish a COVID-ready emergency roadside kit before you need it
- Emergency kit items to include: deicer, shovel, ice scraper, sand or kitty litter (for traction) and extra masks, gloves, hand sanitizer and sanitizing wipes to protect you from COVID-19. During the last storm, many families had to seek shelter at area libraries and community centers to stay warm. Masks, wipes and sanitizing products are necessary to help you stay safe if you do seek help in a public place and come into contact with others.
- Pack a blanket, extra gloves and hat, heavy coat: if you’re stuck on the road for an extended period of time you’ll need to stay warm, especially if your vehicle is not running
- Pack snacks, beverages: have them packed by the door to take in the morning (so they don’t freeze in the car overnight)
- Charge your cell phone: have a backup power source for the car in case you’re stuck for a while
- Make sure your windshield wipers and lights (headlights, taillights, turn signals) are working properly: make sure you can see and can be seen
- Keep a full tank of gas