Winter Safety Topic 1: Survive The Drive!
Winter provided new challenges to Home Care employees. Be sure you are taking appropriate precautions to keep patients and caregivers safe. Check out our new safety tips each week.
This week’s focus, Winter Driving!
Winter Safety- Everyone’s Responsibility
TOP 10 DRIVING TIPS for Home Care Staff in Snow and Ice
- Conduct visual safety check. Before hitting the road in bad weather make it a point to ensure that your tires are properly inflated. Be sure that wipers and lights work and look under the car for leaks. Check oil and wiper fluids occasionally. When temperatures get cold let your vehicle warm a few minutes upon starting.
- Assess driving conditions. Determine what you’re up against before leaving home or work. Listen to local news or check the weather app on your phonefor driving conditions. Be prepared to drive safely.
- Brake cautiously. It’s important to pump brakes lightly when stopping on slippery roads. If your car has ABS (anti-locking braking system) then hold your footbrake down in a slide. This will prevent the steering wheel from locking up (see vehicle owner’s manual) and enable you to maneuver around objects.
- Accelerate slowly. Punching the gas on slippery roads can cause wheels to spin out of control. Accelerate slowly when coming out of a stop and when passing other vehicles. Pass only if necessary and avoid high speeds. Travel nurse apps for weather come in handy when researching road conditions ahead.
- Watch for hydroplaning. Hydroplaning is a dangerous condition that happens when a layer of water builds up between vehicle tires and wet roads. The slower you drive the less hydroplaning you’ll likely experience in rainy weather. Steer clear of puddles and refrain from driving in heavy rains. Tires with little-to-no tread increase the chance of hydroplaning.
- Watch for black ice, and look ahead. Black ice is a thin layer of transparent ice that makes the road look slick when temperatures drop. Signs include ice forming on mirrors, vehicle antennae or upper corners of the windshield. Black ice is a dangerous road condition that requires driving slowly over it. Look further ahead in traffic than you normally do. Actions by cars and trucks will alert you quicker to problems and give you a split-second extra time to react safely.
- Firmly grasp steering wheel. Driving with both hands on the wheel allows for optimum control in bad weather. This helps keep the wheel steady and enables quick action to avoid accident.
- Use hands free calling. No texting. This is a healthy, safe reminder for everyone, but should go without saying. If you must make a call make it hands free. DON’T TEXT AND DRIVE! IT CAN’T BE DONE SAFELY! Either pull over to the side of the road or wait until you arrive at your destination. Also note that texting and driving in New Hampshire is illegal, as is using mobile devices that are not hands-free when driving.
- Watch for bridges, exit ramps & tunnels. Bridges and elevated overpasses freeze first, so it’s important to note these surfaces may be icy even when roads are not (bridges are known for black ice). Drive slowly over bridges and through tunnels hidden from sunlight. Exit ramps are an even greater challenge during the winter since they may have received less anti-icing material than the main line. Be aware of this when exiting the highway.
- Slow down & keep extra space between you and other vehicles. The posted speed limits are for dry pavement. Some experts say to double the 10-feet per 10 mph rule when driving in bad weather. This means if you’re traveling 40 mph you should maintain a distance of at least 80 feet between you and the vehicle in front of you, remember that trucks are heavier than cars. Trucks take longer to safely respond and come to a complete stop, so avoid cutting quickly in front of them. This will help avoid accident should that care stop quickly. Don’t get overconfident in your 4×4 vehicle with studded tires. Weather affects all vehicles. Remember, arriving at your travel nurse job safely is a priority because patients are counting on you.
Driving in bad weather requires a clear head. If you’re tired, feel sleepy, or just left a long shift you may want to consider waiting until weather lets up before hitting the road. The number one objective in driving anywhere anytime is to arrive at your destination safely.
- Ignition system
- Fuel system
- Fluid levels
- Exhaust system
- Wiper blades and windshield washer fluid
- Snow tires
- Tire tread and pressure
- Proper grade oil
- Cooling system
Always fill the gasoline tank before a long trip or even for a short distance. Stop to fill-up long before the tank begins to run low. Keeping your tank as full as possible will minimize condensation, providing the maximum advantage in case of trouble.
A cellular phone can be very useful to you or another stranded motorist in case of an emergency.
- Clear all windows and lights of frost and snow.
- Drive with your headlights on.
- Stock your car with basic winter driving equipment: A scraper and brush, small shovel, jumper cables, tow chain and a bag of sand or cat litter for tire traction. (See Winter car supplies below.)
- Also include road flares, a blanket, heavy boots, warm clothing, and flashlight with batteries.
- Remember to reverse the batteries in the case to avoid accidental switching, and burnout. Warm the batteries between your legs before using them.
- Keep winter car supplies that can assist you in case of an emergency. You easily can equip your vehicle with essential gear for winter. Here’s what you’ll need:
Keep winter car supplies that can assist you in case of an emergency. You easily can equip your vehicle with essential gear for winter. Here’s what you’ll need:
- Booster cables
- Two or more blankets
- Snow shovel and scraper
- Flashlight and extra batteries
- Extra clothing: cap, mittens, parka and overshoes or boots in case you have to walk for help.
- High calorie, non-perishable food like candy and canned nuts.
- Sand or strips of carpet for traction.
- Extra windshield washer fluid and antifreeze
- Flares or reflectors
- Cloth/paper towels
- Piece of bright cloth
Also, leave room for maintenance vehicles and plows – stay back at least 200 feet and don’t pass on the right. (See additional information below.)
Use Common Sense While Driving Near Plows
Upcoming Winter Safety Topics
- Part 2- Indoor Winter Household Hazards
- Part 3- Hypothermia
- Part 4- Slips, Falls and Outdoor Hazards