Taking a long drive on a sunny afternoon can be a relaxing adventure. However, driving in extreme conditions, particularly in winter weather, can be stressful and frightening. Understanding some basic principles about how to avoid some of the biggest pitfalls in winter driving can make the difference between a safe trip and an unnecessary tragedy.

Never warm up your car in an enclosed space.

If you’re starting the car in sub-freezing temperatures, it can be tempting to let the car warm up so that you can slide into the driver’s seat and turn on the heat right away. However, if you do this, make sure that the car isn’t inside the garage with the door down or inside another space that lacks ventilation. The carbon monoxide in your car’s emissions can build up into a deadly gas that can fatally poison your system.

Don’t use cruise control when driving on slippery surfaces.

Setting the cruise control can take the pressure off your foot on a long drive. However, you want to maintain constant vigilance as to your speed when you’re driving on wintry roads as you may hit an icy patch. For this reason, keep your foot on or near the gas and brake pedals at all times, and don’t rely on the cruise control.

Keep your tires the same type and monitor the air pressure.

The cold temperatures at night can bring your tire pressure down so that the pressure sensors activate when you start the car in the morning. Resist the temptation to go fill them up right away, as the rising temperature during the day can make the air inside expand and damage the tires. Instead, make sure that the sensors do not go off when you’re driving the car later in the day.

Also, make sure that you do not mix radial tires with different types of tires on your car. That way your car will respond uniformly when you have to stop, start or turn on the ice.

Have cold weather gear in the car.

Hopefully you’ll never get stranded in the cold, but if you do, you’ll be glad that you packed a kit with food, water, hats, gloves and blankets in the trunk. Also, if you are on maintenance medications, you’ll want to pack an extra few doses in that trunk. That way if it takes hours for a wrecker to find you, you will be safe and as warm as possible.

These are some tips to help you be as safe as possible when Jack Frost is driving the weather. Leave the house with confidence even on snowy days with this advice in mind.