AAA Mid-Atlantic is urging area drivers to keep preparation at the top of their minds in anticipation of the first bitter cold stretch of weather this season.

Frigid temperatures will move into the area Tuesday and stay through Thursday, with lows in the low 20’s and highs in the mid-30’s.

“No one ever plans to get stuck but plummeting temperatures can wreak havoc on a vehicle resulting in a need for roadside assistance,” said Ken Grant, manager of Public and Government Affairs for AAA Mid-Atlantic. “Drivers are more likely to experience dead car batteries or tire pressure issues as the temperature drops, which is why our AAA roadside assistance fleet is preparing for the expected surge in call volume in the coming days.”

AAA urges motorists use today to prepare by getting a vehicle check, filling up the gas tank and packing a vehicle emergency kit.

According to AAA, the average car battery lasts 3-5 years. Even at 32 degrees, a battery is 35% weaker. At zero degrees, a car’s battery loses about 60% of its strength, yet the engine needs about twice as much power to start. A battery’s life can be drained faster if devices are plugged into cars — cell phone chargers, upgraded audio and GPS devices.

The AAA Car Care, Insurance and Travel Center, 124 Greentree Drive, Dover, offers free car battery checks. Motorists can see firsthand whether their car battery is strong enough to withstand the cold.

AAA also recommends checking tire pressure frequently because tires lose air when air temperatures are cold. Proper cold weather tire pressure can be found in the vehicle manual or on a sticker inside the driver’s door, not on the tire itself.

Motorists are advised to prepare a winter emergency kit to stow in the trunk of their vehicle to have immediately available should the need arise. More than 40% of motorists do not carry an emergency kit in their vehicle, cautions AAA Mid-Atlantic.

Emergency kit items to include are de-icer, shovel, ice scraper, warning flare or reflector triangle, flashlight with fresh batteries, first aid kit, jumper cables and sand or kitty litter, for traction.

Pack a blanket, extra gloves and heavy but light-colored jacket, scarf or hat, to increase visibility if getting out of the vehicle. If stuck on the road for an extended period of time, drivers will need to stay warm, especially if a vehicle is not running. Brings snacks and beverages for passengers and pets who may be traveling in the vehicle.

Motorists should also have a cell phone with an external charger, and AAA members should travel with their membership card or have their membership number handy when calling for roadside assistance.

AAA offers these tips for vehicle breakdowns: Pull out of the traffic lanes if a car breaks down. If faced with a vehicle emergency, safely steer the car off the roadway. Turn on the emergency flashers to alert other drivers and exit the vehicle on the side facing away from traffic, if possible. Once everyone is in a safe location, request roadside assistance.

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