For many of us, a new dusting of snow heralds the beginning of the holiday season, but when snow and ice blanket our roads, winter driving challenges also begin. While people put in fewer miles on the road during the winter, crashes can be severe and emergency response may be hampered by bad weather and poor roadway conditions.

Preparing your car (and yourself) is the key to staying safe on winter roads.

1. Get a head start

Before the first flakes hit the ground, you can start preparing your vehicle for winter weather. Check the battery and top off all fluids to the proper level. When the temperature drops, you may notice (or your car’s sensors may warn you) that your tire pressure is low. Check your manufacturer’s tire pressure recommendation, which you can usually find on a sticker inside the driver’s door jamb or in the manual.

Lastly, be prepared in case your car breaks down. Keep an emergency kit in the car with basics including a flashlight, jumper cables, bottled water, food and first aid supplies. In the winter months, add a warm blanket, hat, gloves, scarf, an extra winter coat, an ice scraper and a shovel.

2. Check your exhaust

The Centers for Disease Control reports a rise in carbon monoxide poisonings during the fall and winter months. The deadly gas can fill your car quickly, so check the exhaust system for holes, rust or other damage as part of your winter prep.

When warming up your car, pull out of the garage before starting the engine. Many newer vehicles have remote or push button ignitions that may run very quietly, making it less obvious that they are emitting poisonous exhaust. When starting your car outside, make sure your tail pipe is clear of snow and obstructions.

3. Adjust your speed and add extra time

Adjust your driving for the weather and traffic. When roads are slick and visibility is poor, driving at the posted speed limit may be too fast for conditions. Slow down and make sure you’re traveling at a speed that gives you enough time and space to stop.

Whether you’re headed off to holiday festivities or just into the office, take these few extra precautions to make sure you and your family arrive safely this winter season.