Before you hit the roads, go through this winter safety checklist

Winter Weather Safety

KENNEWICK, Wash. — Wintertime is beautiful in Washington, but it can also be dangerous and sometimes deadly if you get stuck without the proper supplies or gear. If you are planning a trip and have to drive through winter weather, here’s a checklist to follow to ensure you and your family are safe.

AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety research found “that about 46% of crashes involving bad weather occur in the winter.”

CHECKLIST: BEFORE YOU GO (Tips from Les Schwab)

  • Car Checkup
    • Check the working condition of your defroster, wiper blades, lights, signals, heater, air filter, battery, engine oil, seat belts, floor mats, brakes and car seats/boosters.
    • You can also get your car serviced by a professional mechanic making sure they check for leaks, damage and tears.
    • Check for critical safety issues or recalls for your car:
  • Winterize Your Vehicle (options)
    • Fill the windshield washer fluid reservoir with a winter cleaning solution that has antifreeze components to prevent it from freezing. (AAA)
    • You can also use water repellant on the outside of your windshields and headlights.
    • Use antifogging on the inside of your windshields.
  • Get Traction Ready
    • According to Washington State Patrol, from November 1st to April 1st, vehicles must carry chains when driving through passes here in Washington. To see if your vehicle needs to have chains on now, check out the State Law: WAC 204-24-050.
    • Check tire pressure and your tread.  Replace any tire that has less than 3/32-inches of tread. (AAA)
    • Check out for tire ratings and look for the snowflake symbol on appropriate winter tires.

RELATED: WSDOT braces for another understaffed pandemic winter

  • Stay Informed
    • Before leaving for your trip, check the weather, road conditions, travel cameras, and for any weather watches or warnings.
    • Another great resource is the WA State Dept. of Transportation: Real-time travel data
    • Review your travel route, so you have a good idea of what to expect.
  • Charge Your Devices
    • Make sure before you leave that your mobile phone is fully charged and all the extra apps if using an iPhone are closed to save your battery.
    • Make sure emergency and family numbers are saved on your phone.
  • Connect with Family
    • Make sure a friend or family member knows your travel plans and roughly when you may arrive, so if there are any concerns, they know your travel path.
  • Start with a Full Tank of Gas
    • It’s best to keep your gas tank as full as you can throughout your trip just in case you have to change routes or you get lost.
    • Another good idea is to map out where the following gas stations are along your route.
  • Pack your Winter Emergency Kit; AAA recommends these essential items:
    • Important Medications
    • Mobile phone pre-programmed with rescue apps and important phone numbers, including family and emergency services
    • Car phone charger 
    • Drinking water 
    • First-aid kit 
    • Non-perishable snacks for both human and pet passengers 
    • Bag of abrasive material (sand, salt, cat litter) or traction mats 
    • Snow shovel 
    • Blankets 
    • Extra warm clothing (gloves, hats, scarves) 
    • Flashlight with extra batteries 
    • Window washer solvent 
    • Ice scraper with brush 
    • Cloth or roll of paper towels 
    • Jumper cables 
    • Warning devices (flares or triangles) 
    • Basic toolkit (screwdrivers, pliers, adjustable wrench)