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Driving tips for our Northwest winter getaways
When it snows in the Pacific Northwest,  1it creates a wonderland of beautiful scenery. And there are lots of winter activities. But understandably some folks would prefer to stay home and not be driving in these winter conditions.

But there is no reason to stay home during the winter season -- especially if you follow these tips offered by the Triple A.

One thing they say is to be sure you're not driving when you're fatigued -- you really need to get the proper amount of rest before you tackle our winter roadways. And, Triple A says, If you're going to warm up your vehicle, be sure and do that outside and not in a garage or enclosed area.

Always make sure your tires are always properly inflated, and don't combine radial tires with any other types of tires.

They also say to always keep your gas tank at least half full, which will help you avoid a gas line freeze-up. You should avoid using your parking brake in cold, rainy or snowy weather. And don't use your cruise control when you have any sort of snowy or slippery surface.

Now if you're going any distance, be sure and closely watch the weather reports prior to leaving on your drive. Conditions can change quickly. We've all heard the stories of travelers getting lost in snowy mountains on their way to a winter destination -- be sure and let someone know where you are going, when you expect to arrive and the route you'll be taking.

The Triple A says it's always a good idea to have your car inspected by an auto repair facility to make sure everything is in peak operating condition. There's nothing worse than having a breakdown during cold winter weather.

Before you head off down the road, pack your car with a cell phone, blankets, gloves, hats, food, water and any medication you might need if you become stranded. If you do become snow-bound, Triple A says you need to stay with your vehicle. It provides temporary shelter and makes it easier for rescuers to locate you. Don't try to walk out in a severe storm -- it's easy to lose sight of your vehicle in blowing snow and become lost.

The Triple A says that, if you get stuck, don't over-exert yourself trying to dig your vehicle out of the snow. You should tie a brightly colored cloth to the antenna or place a cloth at the top of a rolled up window to signal distress. If it's night time, keep the dome light on if possible -- it only uses a small amount of electricity and will make it easier for rescuers to find you.

You should also make sure that the exhaust pipe isn't clogged with snow, ice or mud. A blocked exhaust could cause deadly carbon monoxide gas to leak into the passenger compartment with your engine running. Hopefully you've brought blankets and extra clothing but you can add more insulation to your body by using things that might be available like floor mats, newspapers and paper maps.

When driving in the snow, always accelerate and decelerate slowly. Don't try to get moving to quickly, and take your time slowing down for a stop light. Also, increase your following distance in snow -- the normal safe distance of three to four seconds should be increased to eight to 10 seconds to allow you an extra margin of safety. When braking, keep the heel of your foot on the floor and use the ball of your foot to apply firm, steady pressure on the brake pedal. And don't stop when you're going up a hill. There's nothing worse than trying to get moving up a hill on an icy road.
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