RICHMOND, VA (Wednesday, February 17,2021) – Even as many are still cleaning up from last weekend’s ice storm and the damage it did to trees and power lines across the state, it’s time to prepare for the next round of wintry weather while keeping COVID-19 protections in mind. Forecasts are calling for more wintry weather and freezing rain across Virginia on Thursday. Unlike the last storm that hit Virginia on Saturday, this one will come in overnight Wednesday into Thursday with the potential to have a significant impact on the Thursday morning commute.
On Saturday, the freezing rain froze on contact, creating ice that caused major problems across the state. Dominion Energy reported nearly 300,000 customers were without power and heat at the height of the storm. Virginia State Police responded to more than 360 crashes and nearly 200 disabled vehicles across the state between midnight and 9 p.m. on Saturday.
“AAA reminds drivers not to get complacent and think just because some roads remained slushy last week that those same roads will not be a sheet of ice this time. Prepare now for the winter weather that is expected tomorrow.” said Morgan Dean, a Senior Specialist in Public and Government Affairs for AAA. “So many of us run out for groceries ahead of a storm, but don’t forget to fill your gas tank and prepare your car in case it becomes encased in ice during the storm.”
Tips for Preparing You Vehicle for Freezing Rain and Ice:
- If you don’t have a garage, park your car in a carport. It will give a vehicle some protection from the elements. If you have no choice but to park outside; avoid parking under power lines, trees, and anything that might fall or drop ice and damage the vehicle.
- Park your car facing the east. The morning sun, even if it’s cold outside, might help melt the ice off of your car. Every little bit helps when it comes to thawing out a vehicle.
- Consider using de-icing spray on your windshield or covering it with a snow shield so that the snow and ice can’t bond to the window. Never pour hot liquids onto a windshield as the extreme temperature difference could cause it to crack and break.
- Cars only need about 30 seconds to warm up the engine components, but if your vehicle is frozen over, let it run longer to help loosen the ice. Never start or run a vehicle in a garage without proper ventilation. Make sure to clear all of the snow and ice off of a vehicle before setting out.
- Turn off your windshield wipers when you get out of the car. If they become frozen to the vehicle while in the on position, you can cause damage to the wipers when you start the vehicle.
- Consider covering the wipers with plastic bags or propping them away from the window so they don’t freeze to the glass.
- Wipe down doorjamb gaskets with silicon spray before the storm hits. It could keep the ice from bonding to the gasket rubber. Note: Check your vehicle owner’s manual and the product label to make sure it doesn’t pose a risk of causing damage to your vehicle.
- If the door lock is frozen, heating the tip of the key might help melt it enough to get the keep into the slot. Forcing it in can cause damage to the lock. A few squirts of de-icing spray will also melt the ice out of the lock. Make sure to keep your de-icing spray with you or inside your home, not in the car, or you won’t have access to it if the vehicle is frozen solid.
Virginians learned the importance of being prepared as the ice storm knocked out power to many homes and businesses over the weekend. Thanks to the flashlight, food, water, shovel and blankets, the Emergency Roadside Kit you put together for your car, is also a good go-to resource if you’re without power and heat at home.
“No one ever wants to get stranded on the side of the road or at home without power,” said Dean. “Being prepared is essential ahead of a storm”
Assemble or replenish a COVID-ready emergency roadside kit BEFORE you need it:
Emergency kit items to include – deicer, shovel, ice scraper, sand or kitty litter (for traction) and extra masks, gloves, hand sanitizer and sanitizing wipes to protect you from COVID-19. During the last storm, many families had to seek shelter at area libraries and community centers to stay warm. Masks, wipes and sanitizing products are necessary to help you stay safe if you do seek help in a public place and come into contact with others.
- Pack a blanket, extra gloves and hat, heavy coat – if you’re stuck on the road for an extended period of time you’ll need to stay warm, especially if your vehicle is not running
- Pack snacks, beverages, etc. – have them packed by the door to take in the morning (so they don’t freeze in the car overnight)
- Charge your cell phone – have a backup power source for the car in case you’re stuck for a while
- Make sure your windshield wipers and lights (headlights, taillights, turn signals) are working properly – make sure you can see and can be seen
- Keep a FULL tank of gas
Safety on the Road:
Whether you have a long commute to work or just need to drive a short distance to the store, preparation is key to making the trip safely. For more information on ways to prepare your vehicle for the winter weather visit 5 Ways to Prepare Your Vehicle for Winter Weather Travels.
Check your wallet to make sure your AAA membership is active and that the coverage level meets your current needs. AAA offers multiple levels of coverage and also special savings on memberships for first responders and teachers. Visit AAA.com to learn more.
AAA Car Care, Insurance and Travel Centers in the area offer FREE car battery checks. Drivers can see firsthand whether their car battery is strong enough to withstand the bitter cold. Pandemic shutdowns in 2020 left many cars idle for weeks or months at a time and that may accelerate battery failures when they’re being challenged by cold and wintry weather.
VA Mailing Address:
9210 Arboretum Pkwy, Ste 290
Richmond, VA 23236
AAA provides automotive, travel and insurance services to 61 million members nationwide and more than one million members in Virginia. AAA advocates for the safety and mobility of its members and has been committed to outstanding road service for more than 100 years. The not-for-profit, fully tax-paying member organization works on behalf of motorists, who can now map a route, find local gas prices, discover discounts, book a hotel and track their roadside assistance service with the AAA Mobile app for iPhone, iPad and Android.
For more information, visit www.AAA.com.