When did Mother Nature become so menacing and so expensive? Floods, drought, wildfires, and record-breaking heat were just the start. Now that Old Man Winter has arrived, Americans can even expect more extreme weather in the form of ice and snow. The year 2011 has already brought a record number of $1-billion weather disasters. That’s more big-dollar bad weather than during the entire 1980s.
Speaking of dollars, a minor fender-bender can set you back thousands. So, are you and your vehicle ready for that slippery road ahead? If you live in some parts of the Northern or Western U.S., you may need to pack tire chains or have studded tires to make it through mountain passes. But, what if you don’t live in a part of the country where the snow runs so deep? What if you don’t live in the Snow Belt at all?
The late-November snow that fell in parts of the South proved that it pays to be prepared whenever you get behind the wheel; just ask some drivers who’ve been stranded. Always carry a cell phone and other items for winter driving and snow emergencies: ice scraper; folding snow shovel for digging; de-icer washer fluid and de-icer lock fluid; winter windshield wipers (carry spares); sand bags or salt in trunk; and jumper cables. Even if you own a compact car, there’s room for extra blankets, flashlights, candles, matches, food, water, and flares. Be prepared: if your car skids off the road, you’ll want to stay warm, safe, and comfortable while waiting for a tow truck to arrive—or spending the night in your vehicle. Take the time to prepare an emergency first aid kit and check your tires for wear and the proper inflation. Then, head to the experts.