Before your carved pumpkin could even reach its eternal resting place atop the landfill graveyard, Frosty the Snowman was already making early appearances in some parts of the country. Dipping temperatures mean drivers are beginning to face one of Mother Nature’s most dangerous seasonal weather conditions: snow and ice.

Driving in snow, sleet and ice can lead to slower traffic, hazardous road conditions, hot tempers and unforeseen dangers, according to the National Safety Council. To keep you and your family safe, it’s wise to have your car serviced before the first snowflakes fall. Follow these 6 Tips to Make Your Car Snow-Ready:

1.    Schedule a Tune-Up: Book an appointment with your dealership or local mechanic to confirm your battery, brakes, heater and defroster are performing optimally. Also, don’t forget to double-check your car’s fluids, antifreeze level and tire pressure before hitting the road.

2.    Switch Your Blades: When was the last time you changed your wiper blades? It’s easy to forget how important wiper blades are to driving safety, but they could mean the difference between life and death in severe weather. Winter wiper blades are specifically designed for ice, making them particularly useful in freezing conditions.

3.    Check Your Tread: If your treads are heavily worn, it’s time to replace your tires. If you live in an area expected to receive significant snowfall, you might want to consider purchasing tires specifically designed for winter conditions, like these Blizzak Tires from Bridgestone.

4.    Inspect your Lights: While we wish we could utilize Rudolph’s red nose instead, we’ll have to settle for traditional headlights. Are your taillights, brake lights and turn signals working properly? Is your license place well lit? In a many states, it is illegal to drive through rain, sleet or snow without headlights.

5.    Protect the Interior: Melting snow and dirty boots are the perfect ingredients for a muddy mess on your floorboard. If you know that you will be spending quite a bit of time in your car, consider purchasing all-weather floor mats. Designed for easy cleaning, they’re perfect for the winter elements.

6.  Prep your Emergency Kit: It’s always wise to prepare for a worst-case scenario. In addition to the contents of your traditional automotive first-aid kit, your winter emergency kit should include a blanket, folding shovel, ice scraper, matches and hand warmers.

Ensuring your car is snow-ready is an important measure for both the safety of your passengers as well the longevity of your vehicle. In severe winter weather, experts agree that it is safest for drivers to stay off the road entirely. If it’s not possible to avoid snowy conditions, be sure to follow all safety precautions while driving. Better yet, take the sleigh.

photo credit: Anton Watts