Winter is coming, but in some parts of the country, it feels like it’s already arrived. Social media is already sprinkled with photos of falling snow and thermometers dipping below freezing. If you haven’t prepared yourself and your work vehicle for harsh winter weather yet, now is a good time.
People who work in the field understand the importance of dressing for the weather, both hot and cold. During the summer, you drink plenty of water and shade yourself from the sun. When winter comes, you shovel out your truck from the snow before dawn to pick up your crew for a long, chilly day, and you bundle up as much as you can without losing the ability to use your tools. In spring, you get a treat: you get to enjoy working outside on beautiful, sunny days while other workers are stuck in their offices.
To prepare yourself and your truck for winter, consider three areas of concern: truck maintenance, truck preparation and emergency preparation. When you’ve made preparations in these three key areas, you’ll be ready to face the cold.
Extreme cold weather is harsh on machines, so be sure your truck is current on regular maintenance items, including oil changes, fluid levels and brake service. Freezing temperatures in particular can damage vehicles that are not properly maintained. For example, make sure that you’re using the correct mix of antifreeze and water in your radiator, and check that your windshield washer fluid is rated for low temperatures.
Your vehicle’s battery is another important component that should be checked before the weather becomes dangerously cold. Batteries are not as effective in low temperatures, so it’s wise to replace a weak battery before the winter months arrive.
Unfortunately, you can’t just park your commercial vehicle for the winter. Your customers need you, so you deliver in even in the harshest conditions. When snow and ice blanket the roadways, you’ll face dangers such as losing control while driving or getting stuck in the snow. Preparing your truck can help you to avoid these dangers or overcome them if they occur.
Snow tires are one way to improve traction in the snow and reduce your chances of losing control. These special tires are designed to dig into snow, improving traction both while you’re driving and when braking. Plus, special tread designs prevent snow from packing into the tire’s grooves. Snow chains are another good idea for occasional snowy or icy weather, but because they cannot be used on dry pavement, they may not be as convenient as snow tires.
Fitting a winch to your truck can be a huge help if your truck gets stuck on snow or ice. A more affordable alternative is a tow strap, although you’ll need a second vehicle to do the pulling.
Once your truck is ready for the winter, assemble a kit of emergency items to keep in it. Include some snacks and bottles of water, a blanket or sleeping bag, an extra phone charger, jumper cables or a jump box, a first-aid kit, a flashlight, a multi-tool or pocket knife and a snow shovel. If you have a spare hat and pair of gloves, throw those in your kit, too. Find a spot for your kit, and leave it in your vehicle all winter.
Weather is mysterious and unpredictable. Early freezes around the U.S. reveal that winter is coming, but it may turn out to be a mild one. Still, it’s better to make your preparations and not need them than to find yourself stuck in the snow. Wise preparation also makes it easier to help out others in need — and when emergency situations arise, nothing is more welcome than a helping hand.