Whether you are an agent for one of the many auto repossession companies, a contract repossession towing company or even one of the aircraft repossession companies in Massachusetts, you know that weather conditions can make for a hairy winter shift. Here are ten safety checks to make before starting:
CHECK 1: CHECK THE WEATHER & PLAN YOUR ROUTES. Massachusetts’s natives are no strangers to below freezing temperatures between November and April. And a good repossession agent there always checks weather conditions and knows his route before he walks out the door. He also plans alternatives in case conditions en route take a turn for the worse.
CHECK 2: SHARE YOUR PLAN. Once routes are planned, at minimum, you must let someone else know where you plan to be, and about how long you expect to be gone. When possible, a professional does not travel alone during a harsh winter shift. Asking someone to ride along is good. Getting a co-worker to plan on following you in case you get into unexpected trouble is not always possible, but better.
CHECK 3: DON’T GET CAUGHT OUT IN THE COLD. Given temperatures dipping in the teens and visibility sometimes nil in a winter storm, it is important to keep body temperatures normal in the elements. There are a variety of winter safety apparel options out there including a myriad winter weather reflective wear including: parkas, cold weather coveralls, heavy duty jacket-and-pants combos, and even multi-pocket reflective work jeans. Also, repo work is a contact sport. Don’t forget to protect your hands. There are dozens of different reflective work gloves with slip proof, waterproof and insulation features available. When dealing with precipitation, it is especially important to have a sturdy pair of lightweight, wide-leg work boots with rubber outsoles. If you can find some made with Thermal PU compound, get them. If you can’t find ones with cleat-like traction aids included, you’ll thank yourself for buying a pair of detachable ones when you’re walking on ice.
CHECK 4: FIND YOUR INNER SURVIVALIST. Prepare for the worst. Call it your Personal Emergency Road Kit. Only a rookie gets stranded without the following survival essentials: a flashlight, a fully charged cellphone, an extra change of winter clothing, blankets (not sheets, and not just one), water – a gallon at least, and a high-calorie non-perishable food stash (all the stuff you love – chips, crackers, nuts, peanut butter, granola bars, beef jerky), and a personal camping heater – the one with the small green propane bottle. Bonus: do yourself a favor; drop an extra key to your vehicle into a pocket on your person. Keep it with you at all times. You’ll thank us when you happen to be the repo man that accidentally locked his keys in the truck.
CHECK 5: NOW FIND YOUR INNER WINTER PRO REPO MAN. These are the professional additions to your Emergency Road Kit. Previous rookie statement applies. Make sure your ice scraper has a brush to clear snow off vehicle tops and hoods. Why? Because any heat will turn that pile of snow into an ice ball. You hit the brakes, the ice ball hurls forward, disaster happens. The Inner Winter Pro will always check one more time for those extra flashlight batteries. Bring flares/ground reflectors. You may need them. Keep a bag of sand or cat litter or strips of carpet for traction in tricky winter vehicle recovery situations.
CHECK 6: THE INNER PRO REPO MAN CONTINUED. Remember, the vehicles a repossession agent is towing are almost always unattended. Nine times out of ten, you arrive to a locked car and/or locked wheels. Additional tools to make the registered repo man’s life a lot easier: a slim jim and wheel dollies.
CHECK 7: CHECK YOUR TOW TRUCK. Clear the ice and snow from your windows, mirrors, hood and roof (reference ice ball hurling forward; apply scenario to your own truck, and include possible elimination of all visibility and/or ripping off your windshield wipers). Check wipers, and all fluid levels. Check your tire air pressure, and make sure you have the right chains on your towing vehicle. Remember the speed limit with chains is 25mph to keep it safe. Make sure your tank is full.
CHECK 8: DON’T GEL YOUR FUEL TANK. When temperatures dip into the teens and below, the professional diesel truck driver knows Diesel 2 fuel turns to jelly. If you’re running on Diesel 2, heed the warning and add fuel conditioner to your tank or plan on pulling out your Personal Emergency Road Kit because it will be awhile before that jelly turns back to fuel. Otherwise, skip the extra steps and fill your tank with Diesel 1.
CHECK 9: TEST YOUR EQUIPMENT. The professional repossession agent won’t be caught with a single faulty ratchet strap. A quick run through of all your moving parts from headlight to hitch could save you hours out in the cold.
CHECK 10: USE THIS CHECKLIST. Print it out, make copies, and keep one in the house, one in the office, and one in the truck. Be sure to run down and check off your steps and supplies for a safer drive.
These ten safety checks before starting a winter repossession shift will make any repo agent’s life easier. Don’t get caught providing auto repossession services in MA in the winter without running down this list first. Good luck out there!