By Heather Hogeland & Kim Grimm
The temperatures are tumbling and, even though a lot of us dread the thought that snow will be falling soon, we realize that the time is NOW to prepare ourselves and our trucks for the freezing temperatures. The heat and humidity of summer is one thing but the below zero temperatures and wind chills of winter can turn deadly in a hurry if you are caught unprepared.
Even for the old pros, it’s a good idea to make a list and get the proper equipment back in your truck before you might need it. Starting with winter gear for yourself. If you have a furry companion, they should have a warm coat along too in case you happen to have a break down and the warm truck turns frigid inside.
Start with the basics: winter coats, winter boots, gloves or mittens, scarves or face masks, thermal underclothes, stocking hats, caps, insulated coveralls and warm clothes such as sweatshirts and insulated jeans, (snow pants are warm and are more water resistant.) Dress in layers, it will help keep you warmer longer and as it warms up you can start peeling off layers. Don’t forget the extra blankets or comforters for your sleeper as well, an extra throw or two wouldn’t hurt!
If you run west many states now require snow chains by September 1, snow can fall in the mountains early in the fall and last late into the spring. If you run these states ignorance is no excuse and the fines can be severe for not having enough chains on board. Check the minimum requirements for the states you are going to be running through and make sure you have enough.
The first freeze of the season is a learning experience for every driver after the reprieve of summer. Getting the feel of how your rig is going to handle is best done by slowing down when the snow starts coming down and the temperature drops. Last year there were way too many wrecks involving trucks that were going too fast and following too close for conditions. We really don’t want to see a repeat of that this year! We want to urge everyone to PLEASE, take it easy, keep a safe following distance and take your time. We want all of you to arrive safely at your destination.
Be sure you have plenty of food. Every year it seems there are pictures on the news of drivers sharing food with other stranded motorists somewhere in the country. Also make sure you have plenty of water or some way to melt clean snow to drink. Some staples like peanut butter and crackers, tuna fish packets and granola bars can all provide nourishment and help you keep warm even if you were to lose power for a time.
You need to be sure to have plenty of fresh batteries for a flashlight that might one day be needed to signal for help along with some rock salt that could be used to help you get unstuck if you were to find yourself suddenly frozen to the asphalt.
Use a checklist, one you’ve developed over the years. Based on where you drive, you know what you do and don’t need in the truck. Personally, we choose to live by the mantra that we’d rather have it and not need it than need it and not have it, so we tend to pack much more in the winter than in the summer. Believe it or not we have both had those times throughout the years where we have needed almost every single item we have listed. So pack it up and keep warm this winter.
Stay Safe Out There And Keep It Shiny!
Heather Hogeland and Kim Grimm are CDL holders and longtime friends with a combined 75 years and 7 million miles of driving experience. Both are writers and have a love for everything trucking, as well as, furry, four-legged friends. Kim is currently a full-time owner-operator and part-time writer. Heather writes for various trucking publications and enjoys traveling with her husband Roger.