Prepare for WINTER WONDERLAND with Nick Nicholson


People tend to look back in awe at their childhood when we see those words. Magical days off from school, high snow drifts and angels in the snow. Mind you, we were shorter, everything was bigger. Somebody was there to warm you up when you came in and it was a cozy and carefree world. Today, we tend to “wonder” if we can make it through another “winter”!

Preparation is key to safely driving through winter. Time to get winter scenespecial equipment on board. Starting with you, pack winter gear to protect yourself because, no matter what you think, you cannot predict what elements are going to confront us out there. Whether you wear them or take them with you make sure you have warm winter socks and boots, gloves and a winter coat. Preferably a reflective coat or safety vest, and a small powerful flashlight. A small safety kit is a good idea too.

Think of your vital medications. Everybody seems to be prescribed something these days. Do you carry extras in case you can’t make it home when you think you will?

There was a famous tanker explosion near Cobourg back in 2007 where drivers were stranded in their vehicles for over 24 hours on a stretch of the 401 without food, water or toilet facilities. There was quite a hue and cry about that because supplies were brought to the emergency personal but not to stranded drivers along the exact same route. Are you prepared for that?

So, consider adding to your personal winter supplies, some sort of non-perishable food (energy bars, etc.), (canned) heat and container to melt snow or thaw water bottles, something to catch the human body’s waste products and a roll or two of toilet paper. A source of heat should be included in case you run out of fuel or lose electrical power in your vehicle.(“canned heat” with cigarette lighter is good.)

It wasn’t funny but, years ago, newspaper readers were amused at a photograph of a police officer desperately trying to make radio contact using the cruiser’s two-way when the entire front of the vehicle had been sheered off.

Look at your lifestyle to see what other things you might need and pack it all in a carry-on type case that you can bring inside to keep from freezing.

So, before you hit the road, is your vehicle ready for winter. Antifreeze, oil density, and winter tires are things to consider during the fall each year. Air brake freeze up and bleeder valves have to be a consideration. With foul-weather, certain things are going to change.

An excess of windshield-washer fluid is likely to be needed. A good ice scraper and snow brush will be necessary as well as lock-de-icer/anti-fog and probably a shovel. What do you have to assist the drive wheels in snow and ice conditions? Cat litter? Can you get the store clerks wagering on how many cats you own? How about the accumulation of snow and ice up-on-top of your vehicle. Will that have to be cleared, either for your own safety, as a courtesy to others or by law in certain jurisdictions? Then, of course, there’s always the weight of snow and ice accumulation on your vehicle.  Will that matter to you?

We don’t see chains as much as we used to but, some areas still require them. Do you really know where you are going to be before you get home again?

Winter trips take longer with the foul weather. Have you considered where you might be when you run out of hours or need to pull off for fatigue? The strain of winter driving can take much longer and exhaust you much quicker than a nice leisurely drive in the summer.

In bussing, are there special considerations you have to make for your passengers during winter as opposed to summer. “Ladies to the right” and “Gents to the left” doesn’t work well in snow banks and you just know they have to go more often. Seriously, though, you know somebody is going to carry something in the baggage area that will freeze. You also know that tourists leave their brain at home. Do they have something to wear besides those shorts they have on?

How about the load you’re carrying?  We know hard liquor doesn’t freeze but we are not so sure about the other liquids you might be lucky enough to be carrying. There’s a lot at stake.

There IS a solution to all of this you know. A driver from Mexico once told me to never drive North of Interstate 40 in the winter time. I didn’t say it was practical!
Keep your people safe.

The beauty of life is in your hands.

About the Author

Nick Nicholson, is a retired safety practitioner who spent many years researching the human behaviour factors of driver and pedestrian actions. Specifically, he spent 25 of those years devoted to highway crash investigations, regulatory compliance, the design, implementation and presentation of safety programs. Nick enjoyed many hours presenting professional driver enhancement training to adult participants.

As a long time Fleet Safety Council Member (1988) and the Founding Chair (1992-1995) of Council’s Hamilton-Niagara Chapter, he presents his opinions in hopes of improving the safety knowledge of readers. Nick is a firm believer in human advancement through positive attitudes, solution thinking and the understanding that the beauty of life is always in your hands.

Old Uncle Nicky’s Opinions are his own and in no way reflect the opinions of Fleet Safety Council

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