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Winter Safety: Commuting in the Winter

Monday, November 26, 2018 7:39 AM

It’s no surprise that winters can get pretty rough in the Chicagoland area. With many of us commuting on foot, by car, train, and/or bus it’s important to be prepared for what Mother Nature may bring. From rain to snow to freezing temperatures, winter in Chicago is unpredictable.


Joanna Davidson, MD, Emergency Medicine at NorthShore, shares tips to help prepare you for a warm commute:

  • Check the weather report when you wake up so you can prepare your day accordingly.
  • Warm up your vehicle in an open area – never in an enclosed area.
  • Keep your gas tank at least half-full all winter long to avoid a gas-line freeze.
  • Give yourself extra time to travel as rain or snow usually slow commutes down.
  • Make sure your winter boots are waterproof and fit properly.
  • If you have to brush snow off your car, make sure you have waterproof gloves.
  • Wear multiple, thin layers as layers provide better insulation.
  • Wear one more layer than you think you need. It’s easier to remove layers rather than trying to add while commuting.
  • If you walk in the elements, consider purchasing waterproof pants to wear over your clothes to keep you dry and warm.
  • Pack an extra blanket or two in your car in case your car breaks down or you lose heat.
  • Wear neck warmers, hat, gloves and scarf to prevent frostbite.
  • Bring extra socks just in case yours get wet.
  • Pack dry nonperishable foods in your bag or in your car in case you get stranded.
  • Carry a battery pack or extra charger for your cell phone.
  • If traveling with children in car seats it is safest to remove bulky coats before buckling them in.
  • As always, wear your seatbelt.  
  • Extremes of age, use of alcohol or illicit drugs, psychiatric emergency and major trauma all are associated with an increased risk of hypothermia.

 If the weather is really bad, consider staying home if you can.