CLEVELAND — With a mix of snow, strong winds and dangerously cold temperatures in the forecast headed into the holiday weekend, experts are urging those planning to travel this weekend to consider a few important things now rather than later.
Tiffany Stanley, a spokesperson for AAA East Central, understands that people will choose to commute for the holidays regardless of the weather.
"Most people aren't going to say, 'Hey, there's a snowstorm, there's a few inches on the road. I'm not coming home for Christmas,' right? Most people are still going to travel to see their family and friends this Christmas," Stanley said.
Thousands of Northeast Ohioans are expected to be on the roads this weekend. But before the weather approaches, Stanley recommends doing a few precautionary things now.
The first is simple—make sure your car is in working order.
"The most important thing you can do is get your vehicle inspected before you head out on the road," Stanley said. "Battery calls are our number one service call. And so you want to make sure that your vehicle is in good working condition before you head out on the road."
Places like Best Buy Tire Company in Cleveland offer free vehicle inspections. Doug Novosel, president of the business, advises motorists to first make sure their basics are up to par.
"You should have a good set of windshield wiper blades on there and check your anti freeze. I mean, your basic things," Novosel said. "Something real common is windshield wiper fluid. If you put in fluid in the summertime, most likely it's not good below zero and it freezes up and you get splashed on the roads and you got salt on your windows, you can't clean it off."
Maybe the most important thing to make sure is in good condition before hitting the road in wintery conditions—tires.
"The main thing’s tires. You want to be able to stop, you want to be able to go and it's so easy to spin out or slide. You need good traction," Novosel said.
Best Buy Tire Company has seen around a 50% increase of sales to start the week with people coming in to make sure their vehicles are safe to drive this weekend.
While having a car with parts in working order is essential, there are other important things that you should have in your vehicle before heading out as well.
Stanley suggests all motorists have an emergency kit tailored for winter weather:
- Start with things to keep you warm in case you become stranded. Items like blankets, gloves and hats.
- Then, make sure to have non-perishable food items—granola bars, trail mix, crackers, jerky and of course water.
- Making sure to have items to help if you get stuck, like a shovel, sand or kitty litter, is also important.
- And of course, the typical road care kit—making sure you have jumper cables, a flashlight and a first aid kit.
When drivers are planning to leave, Stanley suggests leaving anywhere from 10 to 30 minutes early, allowing enough time to safely make it to a destination without rushing and speeding.
"Slow down, because speed kills. And so, the number one reason why people skid on the road is because they're speeding," Stanley said. "Give yourself plenty of time to get to your destination. That way, you're not rushing to get to wherever you need to go. Inclement weather is not the time to be speeding and rushing to your destination."
Lastly, for those choosing to drive in the elements, staying alert and vigilant can not be understated.
"A lot of people think, 'Hey, my vehicle is equipped and I'm a good driver in the snow.' And that may be the case, but you don't know how other people around you may drive," Stanley said. "And so it's important to stay alert, put away the distractions, make sure you're keeping a safe distance between you and the other drivers around you, because you just never know how their vehicle may be equipped, or maybe not equipped, to handle these types of conditions."
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