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In icy weather, here are some driving tips from experts

Take extra precautions before driving on icy roads.
Take extra precautions before driving on icy roads.(wmbf)
Published: Jan. 21, 2022 at 10:13 AM EST
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AUGUSTA, Ga. - Whether it’s checking your tires or checking your windshield wipers, there are many steps you can take to make sure you are ready for the icy roads the CSRA could be seeing Friday night into Saturday.

First and foremost, staying inside is the safest option. But if you do need to be out on the roads, you want to give yourself enough time to get to your destination.

Experts say to drive below the speed limit and to not follow too closely behind the driver in front of you. When the roads have ice on them, it’s much harder to slow down if the person you’re behind comes to an abrupt stop.

Scott Nelson, a service writer at C&G Auto & Truck Service in South Carolina, said there are ways to prepare your car ahead of time if you have to drive during icy weather.

Among those preparations are checking your tire pressure, coolant levels and windshield wipers.

He said your coolant needs to be full, tires need to have the proper amount of air pressure, and windshield wipers need to be sturdy.

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Before driving, also make sure to defrost your windows and scrape off ice. If you do not have an ice scraper, do not use hot water. Nelson says this will ruin your window.

Instead, use a credit card as a makeshift scraper.

“You want your car to be in tip-top shape, so if you’re going to go out in an ice storm or snowstorm you want to know that you have those things under control, so you don’t have to worry about those in case something happens,” said Nelson.

AAA says you should be prepared.

“When we talk about the winter months, typically our calls are going to be for dead batteries, lockouts. We see a lot of flat tires,” said AAA Carolinas spokesperson Tiffany Wright. “That’s why it’s so important to do that checklist right now in your driveway.”

Wright says they’re planning on having plenty of tow truck drivers ready to deploy throughout the winter storm this weekend. However, she says the part they need to gear up for the most is actually after the storm passes through.

“It’s usually the day after that we get the busiest,” said Wright. “That’s when people get over confident. They decide to venture out. They don’t realize there’s patches of ice and snow out there, and then they end up on the side of the road.”

If you have to go out after the storm, her tip is to spend five minutes going through a short checklist that could save you a headache down the road.

“Make sure you’re going out there, you’re checking that tire pressure, you’re checking that tread depth before you leave your home,” said Wright. “Check those windshield wipers, make sure they aren’t cracked, check that washer fluid. If you’re able to add anti-freeze to that, that’ll help you as well.”

Gary Freeman, owner of C&G Auto & Truck Service, also in South Carolina, said if you have to drive, be prepared for icy driving conditions.

Freeman said if you must be on the road, fill your car with a full tank of gas and make sure your phone is fully charged before leaving.

It’s also a good idea to check your car battery.

Freeman said ice makes a car’s response times slower, so drive slowly and avoid slamming on brakes.

If you slide on ice, you should decelerate and steer away from the skid and try to find a place you can pull over.

Freeman said if you get stranded while driving, make sure you call for help. He said having an emergency kit of essentials to keep you warm and hydrated is also key. Some of those items can include snacks, drinks, blankets and flashlights.

“I just wonder why people want to put themselves in that position if they have a choice. Now I realize, some people don’t have a choice, if they’re at work and have to get home I understand, but if you don’t have to leave home, stay home until the storm passes,” said Freeman.

What you can do

The Augusta Fire Department and Emergency Management Agency and South Carolina Emergency Management Division offer this cold-weather advice:

  • Plan on being home and remaining there during any winter storm.
  • If you must go out, give yourself extra time and drive at a safer and slower speed. During winter storm weather, it is best to stay off the roads for unnecessary travel. If you must travel, ensure your vehicle is in good condition. Check the fluids, battery, and tires. Ensure that your phone is charged and you have extra blankets and snacks in case of delays. Call 911 for life-threatening emergencies only.
  • Keep space heaters at least three feet from anything flammable, plug them directly into an outlet or UL-certified power strip, and make sure they have an auto-shutoff if they tip over. Never use your oven to heat your home.
  • Keep alternative heating sources prepared. If you have a fireplace, store a good supply of dry, seasoned wood. Keep fire extinguishers on hand, and make sure your family knows how to use them. Properly vent kerosene heaters to prevent carbon monoxide poisoning. Also, do not burn charcoal indoors. Carbon monoxide poisoning can result from charcoal fumes indoors.
  • Have three days of supplies at home. Make sure you have flashlights, blankets, and any non-perishable foods and water.
  • Be sure not to use candles. These can be a fire hazard.
  • Use caution when around generators. Make sure you are following all the correct precautions when using them.
  • Remember to keep a full charge on your cell phone and mobile devices so they can be used during an emergency.
  • If you lose power, know how to report the outage to your utility company and have alternate, safe means of staying warm.
  • Monitor local media for information about warming shelters opened by local organizations.
  • Freezing temperatures can burst water pipes in homes without heat or proper insulation. Wrap exposed pipes or take other measures to insulate them from the cold.
  • Never operate a portable generator indoors.
  • Keep fresh batteries on hand to use with flashlights and NOAA tone-alert weather radios.
  • Provide some options for outdoor pets and domestic animals to stay warm and to have access to food and water.
  • Check on anyone who may need extra help during winter weather.

“The best thing people can do is to start preparing today for a day of potentially hazardous conditions,” Augusta Fire Chief/EMA Director Antonio Burden said.

From electric utilities

Georgia Power says it’s prepared to respond to outages safely and as quickly as weather conditions allow. The company is continuously monitoring changing weather and storm teams are ready to respond to customer outages caused by the winter weather.

Georgia Power reminds customers to be prepared. It’s important to know the risks associated with winter weather. Resources on GeorgiaPower.com/WinterPrep can help customers stay prepared.

Georgia Power offered these tools customers can use to prepare for winter weather and stay informed:.

  • Outage and storm center: Available at www.georgiapower.com/storm, customers can visit this site to sign up for Outage Alerts, report and check the status of outages, and access useful safety tips and information. Customers can report and check the status of an outage 24 hours a day by contacting Georgia Power at 888-891-0938.
  • Outage alerts: On the site, you can subscribe to the free Georgia Power Outage Alert service to receive personalized notifications and updates via text message.
  • Outage map: Housed within the Outage and Storm Center, Georgia Power’s interactive outage map provides near real-time information, allowing users to see where outages are occurring across the state and track estimated restoration times.
  • Georgia Power mobile app: Download the Georgia Power mobile app for Apple and Android devices to access storm and outage information on the go.
  • @GeorgiaPower on Twitter: Follow @GeorgiaPower on Twitter for storm tips, outage updates, customer service and more.

From reports by WRDW/WAGT and WMBF