AAA provides tips when trapped inside a vehicle during severe weather

OKLAHOMA CITY (KFOR)AAA is urging Oklahomans to prep with defense tactics in case your caught riding out a storm inside a vehicle.

“A vehicle is a very dangerous place to ride out a storm,” said Leslie Gamble, AAA Oklahoma spokesperson. “Think through your driving routes, listen for the latest weather alerts and plan contingencies before heading out on high-risk days so you can react to whatever Mother Nature sends your way. Talk with your loved ones to make sure they have done the same.”

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Here are some tips according to AAA:

  • AAA pre-severe storm vehicle prep:

  • Park vehicles in covered spots whenever possible. Hail of most any size can dent your car, and larger stones can smash windows.

  • Test your windshield wipers. Replace them, if necessary, to maximize visibility.

  • Pack an umbrella, blanket, towel, rain coat, and extra pair of shoes in the car for protection should you have to take cover in or outside the vehicle.

  • Charge your cell phone and take your charger.

AAA severe storm driving emergency action:

  • Keep headlights on to see and be seen by other drivers.

  • Slow down dramatically to prevent hydroplaning and loss of vehicle control.

  • If visibility is severely limited during heavy rain, reduce your speed to the point you can see what’s ahead. If you can safely do so, pull off the road out of traffic lanes, turn on flashing hazard lights, and wait until the rain lightens.

  • Avoid roads prone to flooding or visibly covered by water. Flooding causes more deaths than any other storm-related event, and many of those deaths occur in vehicles. As little as 12 inches of moving water can sweep most vehicles off the road. ‘Turn around; don’t drown.’

  • If a hailstorm begins, drive to the nearest covered area such as a gas station, bank awning, drive-in restaurant. If no shelter is available and hail becomes large enough to cause damage, stop driving and pull off the road completely. Move away from car windows and cover your head with a jacket, blanket or impenetrable object. Use your arms and hands to protect yourself from any breaking glass.

  • If a tornado warning has been issued, seek shelter in a sturdy structure and abandon the vehicle. If no structure is nearby and indications are that a tornado is close, seek shelter in the nearest ditch. Lie flat, face-down on the ground, and protect the back of your head with your arms. Stay away from trees and cars.

According to AAA officials, “Rule one is to make every attempt to avoid driving in heavy rain, hail or tornados,” Gamble said. “But even with the best plans, storms can strike quickly and fiercely with little warning for motorists in ‘tornado alley’. Those with vehicle damage from hail or high winds are typically covered under their comprehensive auto insurance policy. Your life, however, may depend upon having plans in mind and taking quick action should you encounter unexpected storm danger while on the road.”

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