Winter is nearly here again for those of us in Michigan and Indiana. When it arrives, ice, snow, and frigid temperatures can be tough on a vehicle. Yet, winterizing the car is sometimes overlooked.
Even if your senior loved one doesn’t drive much anymore, it’s still important to check their vehicle for winter readiness. This list is a great resource to help you learn how to winterize their car.
Winter Safety Checklist for a Loved One’s Car
- Have a mechanic check the brakes and exhaust: Snowy streets and parking lots can cause drivers to use their brakes more often than in good weather. It’s important to make sure they are in good condition before the snow flies. Ask your mechanic to check them out. While you are there, also have them check the exhaust system for carbon monoxide leaks. This is especially essential during the winter months when car windows are mostly kept closed.
- Test the heater, defroster, headlights, and taillights: Drivers count on each of these car features on cold winter days. Since there are fewer daylight hours during winter, making sure no lights are burned out is vital. The heater and defroster are equally essential to safe driving, so make sure to try those out as well.
- Check the tires: Tire tread depth and tire pressure are two additional items that need to be inspected on a senior loved one’s vehicle. The penny test is an easy way to determine the status of the tire treads. Refer to the vehicle owner’s manual for the recommended tire pressure. It’s best to replace aging tires before the snow falls and roads become hazardous.
- Replace or refill fluids: Coolant, wiper fluid, and oil all need to be refilled or replaced on a regular basis. This is another task the vehicle owner’s manual will provide guidelines on. Unless you have experience maintaining cars, you’ll probably want to leave the oil change to a professional.
- Invest in a senior-friendly ice scraper: Most people who live in colder climates will be scraping ice and snow off their car windows during the winter. That’s why it’s important to have a sturdy scraper. One that also has a brush to dust off snow is best. These reviews might be helpful in finding a long-handle or extendable ice scraper for your senior family member.
- Keep a winter safety kit in the car: Put together and stash a winter safety kit in the backseat of the vehicle. Stock it with essentials the senior might need in case of an emergency. While no one likes to think the worst will happen, it’s best to be prepared. A flashlight, cell phone power bank charger, blankets, flares, candles, matches, protein bars, and bottled water should all be in the bag. Also consider adding a change of clothing, boots, and essential medications.
More Winter Safety Reminders for Older Adults
While you are preparing a senior for winter weather, here are a few additional tips drivers should keep in mind:
- Watch the tank: Keep your gas tank at least half full during the winter. Should you need to pull off to the side of the road, having enough gas will allow you to turn your car on every 30 minutes to stay warm.
- Monitor the weather: Even a quick trip to the grocery store can become dangerous when an unexpected winter storm blows through. If you don’t already, consider adding a weather app to your smart phone. You’ll be able to receive alerts when hazardous weather is on the horizon.
- Keep cupboards stocked: No one wants to be forced to drive on a cold, snowy day or stand in long lines at the grocery store as a storm approaches. That’s why it’s important to keep an adequate supply of food and medication on hand all winter long. Don’t forget to do the same for your pets, too.
- Explore alternative transportation: Ride sharing services or local Dial-A-Ride programs can help older adults avoid driving during the winter. If you aren’t familiar with those in your loved one’s area, call their local agency on aging. They’ll likely have a list of transportation options they can share with you.
If you need some ideas on how to get your loved one’s house ready for winter too, this information might be useful.
Let Heritage Do the Driving
Transportation is one of the most popular resident services at Heritage Senior Communities. From physician appointments to trips to the local shopping mall and other popular attractions, call a nearby Heritage community to learn how our transportation services work!