De-Icing Your Car and Other Essential Winter Tips

As winter tightens its icy grip, many motorists find themselves faced with the task of de-icing their vehicles. It is essential to note that using boiling water to tackle frost-covered windscreens is strongly discouraged, as the sudden temperature change can lead to the glass cracking, and the water may refreeze on the screen or ground.

Instead, the AA recommends a more effective approach. Begin by starting the car engine, ensuring that the wipers are switched off to prevent any potential damage and directing warm air towards the windscreen. Activate the rear windscreen heater and consider using the air-conditioning system, if available, to prevent window fogging.

The subsequent steps involve the gentle removal of snow with a soft brush, followed by the application of a scraper and liquid de-icer to tackle stubborn ice patches. It’s worth noting that unconventional methods like rubbing half a potato on the windows to prevent steaming up are not advised, as they risk smudging the glass.

In this chilly season, respiratory illnesses like the common cold and flu tend to be more prevalent. Cases of norovirus, often known as the winter vomiting bug, have also seen an increase, alongside the persistent presence of Covid. Spending more time indoors during the cold months can facilitate the transmission of infections, particularly in enclosed spaces with limited ventilation. Practising good hygiene, such as using tissues for coughs and sneezes and proper handwashing, can prove instrumental in preventing the spread of illnesses in these environments.

With the drop in temperatures, many people turn to portable heaters as a cost-effective alternative to central heating. However, it’s crucial to exercise caution when using these devices, as they can pose fire hazards. Placing the heater on a flat, stable surface is paramount, ensuring it remains at least 1 metre away from flammable materials. Avoid allowing curtains, clothes, or other objects to come into contact with the heater, and never use it to dry laundry. Furthermore, it’s advisable not to leave a heater unattended for extended periods or overnight, and refrain from plugging multiple heaters into extension leads to prevent fire risks. If using gas heaters, having a carbon monoxide alarm in the same room is essential to guard against carbon monoxide poisoning.

When it comes to keeping babies and young children warm during the winter, the NHS recommends dressing them in layers and using lightweight blankets at night. Maintaining a room temperature of 16-20C (61-68F) is ideal, as overheating can increase the risk of sudden infant death syndrome. Keeping the baby’s head and hands warm when going outside and minimising thick clothing layers in the car seat are also key safety measures.

As for our furry friends, animals can also suffer from the cold, with the risk of hypothermia looming. Providing extra blankets for pet beds and engaging them in indoor play can help keep them warm and active. For outdoor pets like rabbits and guinea pigs, extra bedding and shelter from the cold are crucial. However, ensure they still have enough indoor space for exercise.

Even in cold weather, dogs still require their daily walks. While their fur provides some insulation, it’s wise to consider winter coats or jumpers for older or short-furred dogs. Don’t forget to check your pet’s paws for any damage from snow and ice, and ensure both you and your dog are visible during dark walks with hi-vis leads, coats, and LED collars.

Drying clothes on radiators is a common practice in winter, but it can lead to heating parts of the home unnecessarily and causing dampness and mould. Using a dehumidifier with laundry settings is an alternative worth considering, as it efficiently removes moisture from the air without the added expense of heating the entire room. Although an initial investment is required, it can prove cost-effective in the long run.

Lastly, a word of caution regarding the TikTok trend of using tealights and terracotta pots as makeshift heaters. Firefighters have raised concerns about the danger posed by these homemade devices, as heat from the tealights can weaken the terracotta plates, leading to collapses and potential fires. It is strongly advised against using such methods for heating in the interest of safety.


www.kaercher.com. (n.d.). De-icing a car: the best tips & tricks | Kärcher International. [online] Available at: https://www.kaercher.com/int/home-garden/know-how/de-ice-a-car.html [Accessed 18 Jan. 2024].

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