Get Ready for Extreme Winter Weather
Aging Matters

Weather predictions across the Midwest and the Atlantic areas will be above-normal snowfalls and below normal temperatures in regions. The Farmers' Almanac says the 2017-2018 season will be colder and wetter than last year's, especially in the East and Midwest. The most extreme winter weather brings big storms with heavy rain and snow to hit the Atlantic Seaboard on Jan. 20-23; Feb. 4-7 and 16-19; and March 1-3.

However, the Southeast and parts of Texas not so much. They expect milder conditions but in some parts, look for a few storms.

If you happen upon winter roads, follow these driving safety tips (AARP):

  • Check batteries - they weaken in cold weather. If your battery is three years old, it may need replacing. Here's a good way to check it: Turn on the headlights, then start the engine. If the lights brighten when the engine is running, your battery's weak. Also, check windshield washer fluid and engine antifreeze levels.
  • Equip car with proper gear: jumper cables, ice scraper with a brush, cat litter to use under slipping wheels if stuck, small shovel, flashlight and batteries, phone charger, drinking water, and snacks. And keep the gas tank filled. Change to all-season tires for the light snow and tire chains for the heavier kind.
  • Scrub the windshield and rear window. And before driving de-ice all the windows and wipe snow off the head and rear lights.
  • Driving in the snow requires gentle speeds and no abrupt changes. Try not to start too quickly. It can cause the tires to spin.
  • Brake properly - Pump if the car does not have anti-lock brakes, the method of manually pumping can maintain control on slippery roads. Gently apply and release pressure at a moderate rate. Do not apply quick or steady pressure, as this can cause your wheels to lock and your car to skid.
  • Brake properly with ABS - Do not pump the brake pedal in a car with ABS. In a car with ABS the wheels should never lock, so pumping takes the car longer to stop. In an emergency stop in a car with ABS, you should apply the brake pedal firmly and hold it while the ABS does all the work.
  • If the rear end slides sideways on the slippery surface, turn the steering wheel the same direction of the rear end. If it's sliding out to the left, turn the wheel to the left; if right, turn right. Otherwise, the car spins. Anti-skid control helps, but it can't prevent all.
  • Pack with blankets -- small candles in containers can warm the inside if stranded. When lighting the candle, slightly open a window to avoid carbon dioxide. If you keep the engine running to stay warm, also open a couple of windows a bit to allow fresh air in case there's an exhaust-system leak.

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Carol Marak, aging advocate, She's earned a Certificate in the Fundamentals of Gerontology from UC Davis, School of Gerontology.

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