Be sure to weather the winter

After last year’s winter filled with major snows and bone-chilling cold temperatures, this winter has been relatively mild, so it may be difficult to remember how to drive in the snow and ice.

Winter is scheduled to return this weekend so be prepared to deal with snow flying and vehicles sliding off the road. With any luck, the storm that may affect our area, will track south and spare us from any major problems.

But in case we do get hit hard, the patrol is urging motorists to allow extra time to get to their destination, maintain a safe distance between their vehicles and the traffic ahead, pay close attention to bridges and overpasses — as they are often the first to freeze over — and to drive slowly, as everything, including accelerating, turning and braking, take longer on snow-covered roadways.

Everyone dreads waking up to a fresh snowfall, but taking some simple precautions can increase chances of safely getting to your destination. Since this storm is scheduled to arrive on a weekend, if you don’t have to travel anywhere, stay home where it’s warm and safe.

But if you must go, clear away snow from your car’s windows and from the entire vehicle. Wait for your car to warm up and melt ice on the windows. Being able to see is a prime need for driving safely. That’s also why drivers should clear snow from their vehicles. Snow blowing off a moving car can blind other drivers.

Make sure your windshield washer fluid reservoir is filled with fluid that doesn’t freeze easily, and be sure you know where your snow brush and ice scraper are. Buy new ones if the old ones are worn out.

If your destination is some distance away, keep a winter-driving kit in your vehicle.

The highway patrol recommends the kit should include a cell phone with car charger; road flares or reflectors; help or call police signs; a first-aid kit; flashlight; blanket or sleeping bag; a small shovel; bottled water and energy foods; candles and matches; and tow strap or chain.

Many states have phone numbers or websites for up-to-date road conditions. Check ahead to see what you may be facing and change plans accordingly. Also, keep an eye on weather forecasts for that area.

Being prepared is the best way to deal with winter driving. Be patient this winter, and take your time when driving on snow- and ice-covered roads. And, by all means, keep both hands on the steering wheel when roads are treacherous. Make sure your cell phone is charged for use in an emergency, but texting and calling can wait until you safely reach your destination.