Fall On the Road

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How to dig out your car after a storm

The arrival of cooler, shorter days is often a precursor to winter storms dominated by snowfall. A snow-covered landscape can make for an appealing image. But heavy snowfall also makes for extra work, especially for drivers who must dig their vehicles out of the snow after each storm.

Some people live in suburban areas where they can park their cars in driveways or garages, while others live in cities and have to park on the street, where snow plows can do a wonderful job of burying vehicles underneath mounds of snow. Rescuing a car or truck from a pile of snow can be tricky and time-consuming, but there is a process that can make the job easier.

• Begin by clearing out the tail pipe of the car. This is a vital first step because failure to do so can back harmful carbon monoxide gas and other fumes into the car. Take the time to clear out the rear of the car, including the taillights, so you will have improved visibility.

• When the exhaust pipe is clear, turn on the car. Some people prefer to put the defroster on right away. Others wait until the vehicle warms up before doing so. Having a warm car will melt some of the accumulated ice and snow and make it easier for you to clear the car.

• The right tools make faster work of the task at hand. A shovel is a necessity, and a telescoping snow broom/ice scraper can be helpful. This allows you to safely push the snow off the roof of the car. Some regions fine drivers who do not remove snow from the roofs or hoods of their cars, so take the time to clean such snow before driving.

• Work from the top of the vehicle down. Otherwise, you will end up negating all of your work by throwing fresh snow on the areas you already cleared.

• By now the defrosters should have kicked in sufficiently enough to make it simple to clear snow from the windshield and rear window. Use some  deicing windshield fluid to dislodge wiper blades if they have frozen to the windshield. Some drivers leave their wiper blades standing on end and away from the windshield prior to a big storm to prevent them from freezing to the windshield. Consider this trick if you're especially worried about the blades freezing to the glass.

• Use your shovel to carefully remove as much snow as possible from around the tires. Be careful not to puncture the tire with a metal shovel. Try to create a tire path in the direction you plan to move the vehicle. So if you will be backing out of the driveway, clear the way behind the car. If traction is a problem, use a bit of rock salt or cat litter behind the tires to give them more grip. Slipping a car mat under the tires also can provide much-needed traction.

• Exercise caution if you are digging out a car on a busy roadway. Make yourself visible to other motorists and use traffic cones, if you have them, to keep drivers away from your vehicle. Do not shovel the snow in the path of oncoming vehicles.

Shoveling out after a snowstorm is a task few people enjoy. However, it is a necessity of the season and one that can be done safely and efficiently.