• Have your vehicle winterized before the winter storm season. Keeping your vehicle in good condition will decrease your chance of being stranded in cold weather. Have a mechanic check your battery, antifreeze, wipers and windshield washer fluid, ignition system, thermostat, lights, flashing hazard lights, exhaust system, heater, brakes, defroster, and oil level. If necessary, replace existing oil with winter-grade oil. Install good winter tires. Make sure the tires have adequate tread. All-weather radials are usually adequate for most winter conditions. However, some jurisdictions require that vehicles on their roads be equipped with chains or snow tires with studs.
• Check your vehicle emergency supplies kit and replenish it if necessary.
PREPARING FOR THE STORM:
• If you will be driving in wintry conditions, in addition to the usual emergency supplies you keep in your vehicle, be sure to keep enough of the following for each person:
-Blankets or sleeping bags.
-Rain gear, extra sets of dry clothing, mittens, socks, and wool hats.
-Newspapers for insulation.
-Plastic bags for sanitation.
-Canned fruit, nuts, and high energy "munchies." (Include a non-electric can opener if necessary.)
• Keep in your vehicle:
-A windshield scraper and small broom for ice and snow removal.
-A small sack of sand for generating traction under wheels and a set of tire chains or traction mats.
-Matches in a waterproof container.
-Cards, games, and puzzles.
-A brightly colored (preferably red) cloth to tie to the antenna.
• Keep a cell phone or two-way radio with you when traveling in winter. Make sure
the battery is fully charged.
DURING THE STORM:
• AVOID TRAVEL... If you must be on the road during a winter storm, bring warm broth in a thermos and several bottles of water for each person.
• Keep your vehicle's gas tank full so you will be ready in case of emergency and to prevent the fuel line from freezing.
• Plan to travel during daylight and, if possible, take at least one other person with you.
• Let someone know your destination, your route, and when you expect to arrive. If your vehicle gets stuck along the way, help can be sent along your predetermined route.
• Before leaving, listen to weather reports for your area and the areas you will be passing through, or call the state highway patrol for the latest road conditions.
• Be on the lookout for sleet, freezing rain, freezing drizzle, and dense fog, which can make driving very hazardous.
• If you do become stranded, it is better to stay in the vehicle and wait for help. Do not leave the vehicle to search for assistance unless help is visible within 100 yards. You can quickly become disoriented and confused in blowing snow.
• If you are stuck in a vehicle:
-Display a trouble sign to indicate you need help. Hang a brightly colored cloth (preferably red) on the radio antenna and raise the hood after snow stops falling.
-Run the engine occasionally to keep warm. Carbon monoxide can build up inside a standing vehicle while the engine is running, even if the exhaust pipe is clear. Running the heater for 10 minutes every hour generally is enough to keep the occupants warm. Running the engine for only short periods reduces the risk of carbon monoxide poisoning and conserves fuel. Turn on the engine for about 10 minutes each hour (or five minutes every half hour). Use the heater while the engine is running. Keep the exhaust pipe clear of snow, and slightly open a downwind window for ventilation.
-Leave the overhead light on when the engine is running so that you can be seen.
-Do light exercises to keep up circulation. Clap your hands and move your arms and legs occasionally. Try not to stay in one position for too long.
-If more than one person is in the vehicle, take turns sleeping. One of the first signs of hypothermia is sleepiness. If you are not awakened periodically to increase body temperature and circulation, you can freeze to death.
-Huddle together for warmth. Use newspapers, maps, and even the removable floor mats for added insulation. Layering items will help trap more body heat.
-Watch for signs of frostbite and hypothermia. Severe cold can cause numbness, making you unaware of possible danger. Keep fingers and toes moving for circulation, and drink warm broth to reduce the risk of further injury.
-Drink fluids to avoid dehydration. Bulky winter clothing can cause you to sweat, but cold dry air will help the sweat evaporate, making you unaware of possible dehydration. When people are dehydrated, they are more susceptible to the ill effects of cold and to heart attacks.
-Avoid overexertion. Cold weather puts an added strain on the heart. Unaccustomed exercise, such as shoveling snow or pushing a vehicle, can bring on a heart attack or make other medical conditions worse.