(CLEVELAND CLINIC) – No one enjoys a long commute courtesy of old man winter.
But aside from being a wintry inconvenience, according to Tom Waters, M.D., of Cleveland Clinic, traveling in tricky weather conditions can be downright dangerous if you’re driving around without an emergency kit.
“We always hear these stories about people who get stuck in their cars and we think it’s never going to happen to me, but in the winter it’s definitely a good idea to make sure you have some safety gear in your car – blankets, even these disposable hand-warmers that you can tear open, work very well,” he said,
Dr. Waters said it’s important to keep items like blankets, an extra coat, hats, gloves, windshield washer fluid and even snacks handy, in the car, during the winter months at all times.
He said preparedness is key to staying safe because weather can change in an instant and you don’t want to be caught without adequate safety gear.
It’s also important to make sure that you have a cell phone with you while traveling and to make sure that it’s charged before you get into the car.
If you do get into a situation where you have to be out of your car during very cold weather, Dr. Waters said it’s essential to be mindful of the warning signs of frostbite, which include pins and needles pain in extremities, as well as a change in color of the skin.
He said once you experience signs of frostbite, it’s vital to get out of the cold and avoid going back out once you’ve warmed up.
“If you feel like you’re getting frostbite – or if there’s a risk of frostbite – you want to avoid re-freezing that area, said Dr. Waters. “You want to warm up, when you can keep the areas warm, and absolutely do not want to warm something up and then re-expose it, because the damage can be much worse to the tissue if that occurs.”
Dr. Waters said if you know the weather is going to be especially cold, snowy or windy, try to avoid going outside and traveling at all, if possible.