5 Winter Preparedness Tips For Your Car

Imagine the difference between an earthquake striking in the depths of winter vs. on a summer day. If it happens in winter, you may need to make your way home (by foot!) during a rainstorm or snow flurry. Would you have what you need? With winter upon us, take these 5 steps to prepare your car for a winter earthquake or other emergency. After all, the last Cascadia Subduction Zone earthquake happened during January. Brrrr!

5 Winter tips for your car:

1   Add a warm hat, gloves, and a coat to your car for each family member.

Having extra layers for warmth will pay off in spades during a winter emergency. If you’re one of those folks who’s prone to drive around in your slippers, throw in a pair of sturdy shoes as well! If you have to walk any distance in frigid temperatures or need to shelter in your car you’ll be safer with extra layers. (Do you recall the thousands of people who were stuck in their cars on I-84 near Hood River last winter for 17 hours because of icy conditions?)

2   Keep your gas tank at least half-full.

Don’t let your gas tank ride down to “E.” The gas that’s in your car when an earthquake strikes is likely all you’ll have for weeks. 90% of Oregon’s fuel comes through the NW Portland tank farms, which are in a liquefaction zone and will be destroyed during an earthquake. Therefore, there will be no fuel (not to mention the hideous environmental disaster). So, always keep your tank at least half full. Plus, in a winter car emergency (again, think of those stranded I-84 folks) being able to run your engine for heat may be a lifesaver. 

3  Always have a 3-Day Emergency Pack in your car. This is for any type of emergency, being stuck on a snowy road, etc.

Imagine an earthquake striking in winter when you’re across town at the grocery store or miles away at work. Have an emergency pack to get you through 3 days. Post-earthquake, depending on conditions, you may need to shelter in place where you are, or embark on the journey of walking home. Core critical supplies include: water, nutrition, an emergency sleeping bag, an emergency blanket and rain poncho. It's important to have supplies that help retain your core body temperature and shield you from the elements. Most bridges and overpasses will be down, so travel routes will be impassable by car. Getting home could be a multi-day process requiring sleeping outside on the way. Have a 3-day Get-Home Pack in your car to take care of yourself during these critical 72 hours. 

4   Check your antifreeze, battery and wipers.

This is about prevention. Make sure that your car is ready for winter. Checking these critical safety systems takes only a few minutes but can make a huge difference in terms of road safely in winter.

Add a snow scraper and traction devices.

We all know that when snow hits around here it is mayhem, with cars slipping and sliding. Keep traction devices in your car and know how to install them. Even if you don’t know how to use them, a kind bystander is likely to give you a hand!


Spread the preparedness word!